Friday, April 29, 2005

Where Does the Time Go

I started this blog with all the good intentions of posting my thoughts on a regular or at least semi-regular basis. Now here it is 2+ months into this thing and I'm logging my second posting.

Perhaps I'm busy or perhaps I'm finding myself less committed to putting my thoughts here than I originally thought I would be. I find I spend a lot of time commenting on other peoples' blogs; and maybe it is just easier to pick fights with people when you see their views as wrong or dangerous. But are mine any less dangerous?

I have been currently doing a lot of research and general reading. On what? In general, I am studying the link between Marx's views on Capitalism and the apparent effect of Capitalism on Social Deviance. I am always interested in the implications of politics in Education though. So while I was making my rounds on the blogosphere I came across the innocuous looking Academic Bill of Rights.

On the surface, this would appear just a sensible idea and not make one hazard a second glance. In fact, you might even want to stand up and applaud at this point. Go ahead, I'll wait. (pause, pause, pause) Ok, now that we have taken a moment to reflect the implications that our first impressions give us, I'll continue with my thoughts on the matter. The following is a link to the Academic Bill of Rights mission statement:

Hats off for the politically correct wording used in this document. Now lets discuss the implications of this ideology. According to this statement, Students for Acedemic Freedom just wish to allow opinions to be kept out of the classroom and rid academia of political bias. This of course, is an impossible feat considering the nature of Humanities studies that this coalition is apparently targeting with this ABR. On the surface, I would not argue that there is a certain amount of bias in the university system; and their use of arguements in the beginning of this document citing Supreme Court decisions in cases sich as Keyishian v. Board of Regents (385US589) seem to add an heir of legitimacy to their side of the argument. But let's look deeper, let's see who is behind SAF's Academic Bill of Rights. Why, it's none other than that famous philanthropist David Horowitz. For anyone who has been living under a rock, I urge you to pay attention to this guy. If you have had the misfortune of reading any of Ann Coulter's drivel then you will have a basic concept of where he is coming from as well.

Now to break the intentions of this group down, what is apparent is that Horowitz and Co. desire legislation that demands equal face time for students in studies following a more conservative agenda. Their basic premise is that students are being indoctrinated into leftist beliefs by communist leaning professors and if they offer a dissenting opinion they will be formally or informally sanctioned by this supposed status quo for deriding the popular concensus among this conspiratorial leftist Academic Cadre. Now, I managed to attend class once or twice in college and I have to say that this thinking is utterly ridiculous. If anything in my personal experience, I noted professors in general to be pompous, stuffy, and at least moderate or further right. This could be because of my tendancy to prefer Marxian philosphy, I will not dispute my bias.

At this point, I would like to bring up my assertion that as far as the University System is concerned, they must answer to the business community who hire students to fill positions after graduation; they must answer to the government who helps subsidize them if they are public (private colleges are excluded from this worry, but then they are usually right leaning anyhow). And they must do this while trying to balance legitimate liberal education and maintain an atmosphere that is attractive to prospective students who consider themselves conservative and those who consider themselves liberal. I would excuse the Halls of Academia for tiptoeing through this bed of tulips as lightly as possible. From my personal experience, I have observed that sometimes by being Left and Atheist that just my existence is offensive to those who would call themselves diametrically opposed to my philosophy. BUT.......this does not indeed stop at the hallowed halls of academe. There is currently legislation being quietly (or sometimes not so quietly) to enact this ABR as law.

What is at first striking to me is the fact that these are both state legislative bills in two different states which are almost written verbatim. They both could have cut and pasted the document written by SAF. I'm no legal expert, but I find it odd that two states with so many miles between them introduce legislature at the same time on the same subject in identical language. Ok, so you say it was a concerted effort. This is my point. What we have is a coorinated effort to enact legislation governing how higher education should conduct its own behavior. Let us examine what the accusations standing before Academia are. According to the movement behind both of these bills, conservative thinking students are formally or informally sanctioned by communist sympathizing professors who, in their eyes make for the overwhelming majority of Univresity cadre. They further assert that this is some sort of left leaning conspiracy which involves giving favorable positions to liberal professors and doctoral candidates. They assert that this is done consciously as well as unconsciously in a manner that is both overt and covert. This group demands that the legislation force the university system to give equal time and attention to the subject matter of Creationism or Intellegent design as it does Evolution.

I smell where this crowd is coming from. These are the people who are offended by my lack of Christian faith. They are the people who say I'm not a good American because I won't bow before the great god of Fascism/Capitalism. This is the 'with us or against us' crowd. They hate that people like me are allowed to think the way we do. They say we encourage terrorism, while they work vigilantly to protect our lives from the evil Muslims, IRA, Central American Drug Cartels, the evil Communists on DPRK, blah, blah, blah...........insert your favorite terrorist here.

I say, if there are people out there who want to learn Creationist theory or study Theology then there are plenty of private schools that are willing to lecture them on such subjects until their heads explode or they snap and bomb an abortion clinic, which ever comes first. While I advocate diversity of opinion in education, I do not believe that it is something which can be successfully legislated in an equitable manner for everyone's mutual or even mutually exclusive benefit.

In closing I offer this link. It is a weblog discussion on this very subject among more intellectual types than myself. It also offers a fair representation of both sides of this argument. You be the judge.