Thursday, December 18, 2014

Leiter links to IHE
...After the class, another student approached Abbate to tell her that he was “very disappointed” and “personally offended” that she hadn’t considered his classmate's example about gay marriage more thoroughly, according to the student’s recording of the conversation, which was obtained by Inside Higher Ed. The student said he had seen data suggesting that children of gay parents “do a lot worse in life,” and that the topic merited more conversation. 
Abbate told the student that gay marriage and parenting were separate topics, since single people can have and adopt children. She also said she would “really question” data showing poor outcomes for children of gay parents, since peer-reviewed studies show the opposite (indeed, the major study showing negative outcomes for children of gay parents, by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, has been widely discredited). 
Regardless, the student said, “it’s still wrong for the teacher of a class to completely discredit one person’s opinion when they may have different opinions.” Abbate responded: “There are opinions that are not appropriate, that are harmful, such as racist opinions, sexist opinions, and quite honestly, do you know if someone in the class is homosexual? And do you not think it would be offensive to them, if you were to raise your hand and challenge this?”
my comment
The only appropriate response to the student's question would be to say loaded topics would derail the discussion of Rawls, and that while those issues are the most important issues that face us, in fact because they are so important, they should be discussed elsewhere outside the classroom. 
Academics now take the academy as arbiter of everything. Call it the authoritarian liberalism of good intentions. The purpose of the humanist academy to give us the tools to govern ourselves. The purpose of the neoliberal academy is to give us a new set of enlightened rulers. The conservatives in this case are right, just as liberals would have been right to make the same argument 30 years ago when the roles would have been reversed, about gay rights, or a few years ago, about Zionism. 
Q:" Zionism is racism"
A: “There are opinions that are not appropriate, that are harmful" 
And of course the right answer to the student's question wouldn't have caused a backlash.
How many times: Academic freedom does not exist. Academic independence is granted through a political process.

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