Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, infamous among conservatives for his nanny state and gun control advocacy, has actually been quite strong in resisting the prevailing culture of hyper-sensitivity on college campuses. In his commencement address at Harvard several years ago, he cautioned his audience against the embarrassing lack of intellectual diversity at elite American institutions, where conservatives are glaringly underrepresented. A taste of his remarks, which Mary Katharine Ham and I highlighted in our book, End of Discussion:
There is an idea floating around college campuses – including here at Harvard – that scholars should be funded only if their work conforms to a particular view of justice. There’s a word for that idea: censorship. And it is just a modern-day form of McCarthyism. Think about the irony: In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left wing ideas. Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas, even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species. And perhaps nowhere is that more true than here in the Ivy League. In the 2012 presidential race, according to Federal Election Commission data, 96 percent of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama. Ninety-six percent. There was more disagreement among the old Soviet Politburo than there is among Ivy League donors. That statistic should give us pause – and I say that as someone who endorsed President Obama for reelection – because let me tell you, neither party has a monopoly on truth or God on its side. When 96 percent of Ivy League donors prefer one candidate to another, you have to wonder whether students are being exposed to the diversity of views that a great university should offer. Diversity of gender, ethnicity, and orientation is important. But a university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous.
That critique was met with applause in Cambridge, as faulty members and administrators squirmed in their seats. Bloomberg took his message a step further in his speech to new graduates of the University of Michigan over the weekend, scolding students for the stifling atmosphere of habitual offense-taking, censorship, and ideological enforcement that has poisoned campuses from coast to coast -- including in Ann Arbor. For his plea in favor of tolerance and open-minded debate, Bloomberg was booed. Via The Hill:
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was booed during a commencement address when he criticized college "safe spaces." Bloomberg said during the commencement address at the University of Michigan on Saturday that "keeping an open mind to new ideas is essential to your professional success — just as it's crucial to our collective future as a Democratic society." "The fact that some university boards and administrations now bow to pressure and shield students from these ideas through safe spaces, code words and trigger warnings is, in my view, a terrible mistake," he said. "The whole purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations — not run away from them. A microaggression is exactly that: micro. And one of the most dangerous places on a college campus is a safe space, because it creates the false impression that we can insulate ourselves from those who hold different views."
Bravo to Bloomberg, and shame on the sniveling, self-absorbed, intolerant children who booed him. That this sentiment would be greeted with negative jeering anywhere in a supposedly free society is depressing unto itself. That the boos rose up from college students -- overtly rejecting the concepts of pluralism, free thought and adult comportment -- tells you everything you need to know about why the anti-PC backlash is so ferocious. Meanwhile, there's an update to an outrageous story we also featured in End of Discussion. The Washington Post reports:
A tenured professor and a legal institute are suing Marquette University, claiming a breach of contract for the suspension imposed after he publicly criticized an instructor for stifling debate in class. The conflict began in 2014: After a student complained after a philosophy class that he was disappointed that he and others who question gay marriage had not been allowed to express their views during the classroom discussion, the graduate-student instructor told him that opposition to gay marriage was homophobic and offensive and would not be tolerated in her theory of ethics class. John McAdams, an associate professor of political science at Marquette, blogged about it, writing that the instructor “was just using a tactic typical among liberals now. Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.” ...McAdams was suspended without pay the following month and banned from campus, and in March of this year he was told by university president Michael Lovell he could not return to teaching unless he wrote a letter acknowledging that his behavior had been reckless and incompatible with Marquette values and that he feels deep regret for the harm he did to the instructor. On Monday, McAdams and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, claiming breach of contract.
This tenured professor was fired (!) for publicly calling out another instructor at his nominally Catholic university for explicitly shutting down a debate about same-sex marriage in her ethics (!!) class. She upbraided a student for "homophobia" because he dared to adhere to the Catholic Church's stance on the issue. Supporters of the robust exchange of ideas in academic settings, and opponents of the punishment of alternative viewpoints, should hope Prof. McAdams wins his suit and takes a giant bite out of Marquette's wallet. What a disgraceful episode. I'll leave you with this:
As a Yankees fan, I don't much care for Curt Schilling. The "bloody sock" game was a deeply unfortunate blemish in Yankees history. And I would not have shared the provocative -- and certainly offensive to some -- transgender bathroom-related meme that got Schilling fired from ESPN (the whole thesis of End of Discussion is that the Left's new weaponized form of political correctness seeks to actively punish 'thought transgressions'). But even if you're willing to defend the network's decision to pull Schilling off the air, if they're also censoring sports history as a means of exacting additional retribution against the former pitcher for his "transphobia," that is frighteningly Orwellian. ESPN's pro forma "editing for time" excuse is lame garbage; it also makes zero sense, given the context of the series their film documents. 'Your subversive thoughts will not be tolerated, Mr. Schilling. You're fired, and we'll see to it that your historical contributions to the world of sports are systematically erased to the greatest extent possible.' Beyond creepy. End of Discussion.