Jewish World Review Dec. 20, 2001/ 5 Teves, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Consumer Reports

Free Speech and the political spectrum -- I THINK the world of Dr. Brian Foster, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico, but his disciplinary action against Prof. Richard Berthold, who told his classes after the September 11 attacks, "Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote," is wrong.

The CUNY board resolution condemning a faculty panel in which one egghead referred to the terrorist attacks as "an understandable Islamic response to Western imperialism" is also wrong.

Professor Berthold and the panel are unprofessional and insensitive, but their remarks should be protected under the umbrella of academic freedom. As these faculty cry oppression, I offer the words of Bob Dylan, "How does it feel?"

The temptation to foist upon my pacifist comrades the hate speech codes they put in place and have used to silence conservatives is nearly overpowering. But, they deserve the response an administrator gave to those who have called for my termination and/or revocation of my degrees, "Her views, offensive though they may be, are protected."

Academic institutions' decisions on these ill-tempered and ill-mannered colleagues will seal the fates of us conservatives who will inevitably return to minority status. Handled correctly, these cases could remold campuses from monolithic towers of censorship dedicated to the indoctrination of the young minds to havens of thoughtful and civil discourse and research.

Those who have reigned over both thought and processes on campuses for so long did not achieve such power through scholarly superiority or triumph through fact and truth. The era of PC was achieved through bad manners and censorship.

There has been no meaningful debate on campuses since the Vietnam War. Jeane Kirkpatrick was shouted down at Berkeley. Charlton Heston, Clarence Thomas, Barbara Bush, John Leo and others have all been served with revocations of invitations to speak. David Horowitz was not only shouted down during his slavery reparations speech at Arizona State last spring, the academics with an interest in the issue scheduled a conflicting forum to ensure closed minds.

Just last week, Professor Christina Hoff Sommers experienced ugly wrath for challenging the "scholarship" of gender. An invited panelist at a Health and Human Services Conference entitled, "What is being done for boys?", Professor Sommers cautioned academics and HHS employees about expanding HHS's "Girl Power" program because evidence does not show the superiority of gender-specific drug and alcohol programs over gender-neutral ones.

Professor Sommers was interrupted during her presentation by Linda Bass, Acting Branch Chief in the Public Education Branch for Substance Abuse and Prevention (so there) and told to stay away from "Girl Power." When Professor Sommers continued, Ms. Bass demanded a break and caucused with officials for 15 minutes.

When they returned, Professor Sommers finished defiantly with data. One participant yelled, "You can prove anything with statistics," which got an approving roar from the HHS crowd. She then defended her methodology which caused Professor Jay Wade of the Department of Psychology at Fordham University to delight the crowd with, "Shut the f *** up b****." An HHS official then halted the conference. A tape of this circus has apologies flying.

The dissent of leftist academics is striking. There were no specific challenges to Professor Sommers' data; they called her a name. When they disagree with me, they don't point out error, they ask for my removal.

Professor Berthold's remarks are troubling because they evidence his loss, in the classroom, of the detached perspective of exploration. His case and those of Sommers, Thomas, Kirkpatrick, et al. illustrate two major problems that plague campuses: (1) lack of civility toward those with minority views; and (2) little honest intellectual inquiry. Those on the left, whether in the majority or minority, use emotion for persuasion while censoring dissent. The real victim is truth.

September 11 was an indictment of all academic experts on Muslim factions, the Middle East, and their beloved Western Imperialism. Where were their warnings and analyses of terrorists devoid of feeling and soul? Or were they too blinded by the hatred they feel for this country and too enamored of non-capitalists to see evil evolving?

Obnoxious anti-war faculty members deserve a reprieve for insensitive remarks, conditioned on their pledges to honest scholarship and open debate. Despite our temporary campus coup, we conservatives extend an olive branch. We hope that our leftist comrades who now know how it feels will now permit academic freedom, and not just for them.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


12/13/01: Curbing brats
12/06/01: Power to influence
11/29/01: The disappearing art of grading
11/21/01: The Big Two-Five
11/13/01: You can never find a lib when you need one
11/01/01: Unlucky in sports
10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
06/14/01: Which way maverick McCain? An Arizonan's perspective
06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
01/19/01: Where have you gone Frieda Pushnik?
12/29/00: The year that was
12/23/00: Litigation: It's the American way
12/15/00: In defense of rhetoric
12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
12/01/00: Liberals' art of trashing of women
11/20/00: Put me out of my misery
11/17/00: On being a statesman
11/13/00: When it's broke, fixing it wouldn't offend the Framers
11/08/00: ELECTION 2000: I SURRENDER
10/27/00: Al in the package? Memo to women: Choosing presidents and husbands
10/20/00: Ten things the gay community should understand
10/13/00: "You Have a Lump."
10/06/00: The government as the pharmacy: Don't
09/29/00: The capacity for truth
09/22/00: Charity with strings and an agenda
09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
08/25/00: Conventions: A study in contrasts
08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
07/07/00: I wanna be around
06/23/00: The liberal conversion
06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
06/08/00: No excuses schools
06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
05/02/00: Elian: There's never a liberal around when you need one
04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
02/29/00: Ditzes in TV Land
02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
01/11/00: Oprah's lemmings
01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
12/23/99: Confused fathers
12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
12/07/99: Turtles and teamsters, side-by-side in Seattle
11/29/99: When conservatives behave badly
11/22/99: Compassionate conservative: Timing and targets
11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
11/11/99: Succumbing to the intellectual child within with the help of crackpots and screwballs
10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
10/14/99: Inequality and injustice: It's the big one
10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2000, Marianne M. Jennings