Let's look at the current political climate in academia:
years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this
country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines –
there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual
intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what
universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in
the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain
disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups
whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university
itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo
chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around
More than nine in 10 UK universities are restrictive of free speech,
according to a new report that raises concerns over the issue of
censorship on campuses.
Analysis by Spiked magazine, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Reform
Trust, suggested campus censorship had increased steadily over the
past three years – with a growing number of institutions actively
clamping down on ideas, literature and guest speakers that are not in
keeping with their own values.
The Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR), drawn from examining the
policies and bans of 115 universities and students’ unions, found
almost two thirds (63.5 per cent) were “severely” restrictive of free
speech, with more than 30 per cent given an “amber” warning.
Higher education’s suppression of speech is well-publicized. But in an
odder and less well-known twist, campuses are increasingly co-opting
the language of free speech and using it to justify censorship. One
example: The designated “free speech zones” that exist on roughly 1 in
10 U.S. college campuses, according to a report released last month by
the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
The very existence of a “free speech zone” suggests that students’
expression is limited elsewhere on campus. And even in the “free”
zones, administrators often restrict who can speak, when and for how
Dozens of universities have also used the language of free speech to
justify trendy “Language Matters” or “Inclusive Language” campaigns.
The point of these programs is to condition students to wince away
from words and phrases deemed offensive, instead using politically
A related survey question, which has been asked most years since 1967,
inquired whether “colleges have the right to ban extreme speakers from
About 43 percent of freshmen said they agreed. That’s nearly twice as
high as the average share saying this in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
It was surpassed only once, just barely, in 2004. But in general,
support for banning speakers from campuses has trended upward over
Recent incidents suggest students (and sometimes their professors) may
have rather expansive views of what constitutes an “extreme speaker.”
Among those disinvited or forced to withdraw from campus speaking
engagements in the past few years are feminism critic Suzanne Venker,
former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, International Monetary
Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Narendra Modi, now the
Indian prime minister.
Harvard revoked offers to at least 10 applicants based up their
digital footprint. What is more troubling is that Harvard has lobbied
for years against a social media privacy law for applicants that would
ban colleges in Massachusetts from being able to request applicants
verify their digital accounts and activities which may indicate their
political or personal opinions.
Harvard along with other prestigious colleges have a long documented
history discriminating against students based on religion and other
personal attributes. A recent lawsuit is claiming Harvard for years
has discriminated against Asians. The evidence so far demonstrates the
troubling ways Harvard uses personal non-academic information to
The bottom line is that if a college applicant visits websites that
discuss hot button political issues such as the president, or far left
or far right lawmakers, the First Amendment or Second Amendment
rights, abortion, affirmative action, gay marriage, immigration, etc.
its highly possible they may be denied admission to the most
prestigious colleges in the United States. Why? Because an increasing
number of college admissions officials are going to great lengths to
collect their applicant’s personal political opinions.
A Pensacola student who sparked controversy Tuesday by wearing a
Confederate uniform to the site of a violent clash between white
nationalists and counterprotesters has been kicked out of Pensacola
Christian College, according to a North Carolina media outlet.
WXII News 12 reported that Allen Armentrout, who reportedly splits
time living in Pensacola and North Carolina, learned Thursday that PCC
staff had decided to terminate his enrollment.
Video from Tuesday showed Armentrout — wearing a Confederate uniform
and carrying a Confederate flag — standing and saluting a statue of
Gen. Robert E. Lee at Charlottesville's Emancipation Park. He was
surrounded by a crowd that chanted "terrorist go home." Armentrout
stood in a motionless salute until he was peaceably escorted away from
the scene by police.
Armentrout later told the News Journal he made the trip to Virginia
because the KKK, Neo-Nazis and other groups are destroying the history
of his ancestors and he wants to share "the true history" of the
American South. He said Neo-Nazis have wrongly "latched on" to
A University of Pennsylvania Law School professor has been removed
from teaching mandatory first-year courses after making derogatory
remarks about the academic performance of black students.
During an interview last fall, professor Amy Wax said that black
students at Penn Law never graduated in the top quarter of their
class. "Here is a very inconvenient fact Glenn, I don't think I've
ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class and
rarely, rarely in the top half," Wax told Brown University professor
Glenn Loury in a video of the interview that recently gained
Shepherd is a graduate student and teaching assistant. Her sin was to
show a first-year communications class a video snippet from TV Ontario
of two professors debating grammar.
All of which is to say that when Shepherd ran her five-minute TVO clip
featuring pronoun traditionalist Jordan Peterson debating another
professor, she unleashed a storm.
The teaching assistant was hauled before a three-person panel made up
of her supervisor and boss, Nathan Rambukkana, another professor named
Herbert Pimlott, and Adria Joel, Laurier’s acting manager of gendered
violence prevention and support.
The trio interrogated her for more than 40 minutes.
Shepherd had the wit to record the proceedings. It makes for
Finkelstein was not denied tenure because of any shortcomings in
scholarship or teaching. Noam Chomsky had earlier described
Finkelstein's book Beyond Chutzpuh as "a very careful scholarly book"
and "the best compendium that now exists of human rights violations in
Israel" (Goodman, "Chomsky Accuses"). The late Raul Hilberg, widely
recognized as the founder of Holocaust studies, said of Finkelstein,
"his place in the whole history of writing history is assured," and
praised his "acuity of vision and analytical power." (Goodman, "It
There can be little doubt that Finkelstein was fired because of his
criticisms of Israel's human rights violations against the Palestinian
people, and for his fact-based criticisms of the Israel lobby. Raul
Hilberg warned at the time, "I have a sinking feeling about the damage
this will do to academic freedom" (Grossman). Even the DePaul
administration tacitly conceded that his firing was politically
motivated when it acknowledged Finkelstein as a "prolific scholar and
outstanding teacher'' in a later legal settlement (Finkelstein, "Joint
etc. etc. etc.
Although this problem has existed for decades, expressing an opinion that is "politically incorrect" has never been as dangerous within an academic context as it is today. Also, the range of speech that qualifies as "politically correct" is becoming ever more narrow. Especially (but not only) for people on the right of the political spectrum, expressing any political opinion whatsoever has become simply too risky. Many people received a grading penalty, were kicked out of college, lost their jobs, failed to obtain tenure or were otherwise punished by expressing opinions too controversial for the current political climate. And often this involved opinions expressed on social media or other non-academic contexts.
As a consequence, 54% of students report self-censoring in the classroom at some point since the beginning of college, according to a survey by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. A similar survey by Hamilton college's student newspaper also looked into the political affiliations of respondents and demonstrated a striking difference between responses from conservatives and liberals. No less than 84% of conservatives indicated that “the political climate on campus prevents them from saying what they believe”, whereas only 21% of liberals reported self-censorship.
Why Liberals & Conservatives experience censorship so differently :
The idea of a balanced argument at my undergraduate university [in the
US] was ‘neoliberal’ versus ‘radically liberal’. We spoke of the
importance of diversity, but political diversity was never considered.
I thirsted for a deeper understanding of why half of Americans could
hold opinions that were only met with dismissive ridicule or barely
acknowledged. What I wanted was a wide exposure to different ideas and
arguments, whether or not I agreed with them.
In the US, if someone disagrees with you politically, they disengage
from you and refuse to get to know you on a personal level. So I have
often kept quiet among my peers, only revealing my true thoughts to
those who have ‘come out’ to me in the same way that Madeleine
describes. This has been compounded by the fact that my undergraduate
degree was in gender studies, a famously radically liberal discipline.
I am proud that I do not conform to the stereotype of a gender studies
I wish to remain anonymous not because I am ashamed of my views, but
because I want to be an academic and fear assumptions might be made
about my politics. Academia is so liberal that, though I am
politically neutral or centrist, others might regard me as being
conservative and not want to hire me. Nevertheless, I look forward to
working towards a future where academics have intellectual freedom in
the form of open discussion, not anonymous letters.
So if you're a Liberal and your political views are sufficiently aligned with those of the academic establishment, you may not have anything to worry about. For everyone else, however, it is best to keep your opinions for yourself and not advertise them in any way if you want to pursue an academic career.