A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Oh THAT Ivory Tower

Just wanted to drop in a small chunk from a faculty email during the Churchill vs. Summers discussion we had here at Parkside:

All that said, I sure wish some people would just shut the hell up (I won't mention any names Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Margaret Spellings, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh...).

To this faculty members credit, he did argue strongly that censoring anyone is dangerous, and he did not sign either the Churchill or the Summers letter. So, he's at least consistent. Given the list of folks he wished would shut up, however, it is pretty much impossible to avoid his liberal bias. Which is hard to believe, I know. To quote from Casablanca:

Renault: I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[The croupier comes out of the gambling room and up to Renault. He hands him a roll of bills.]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Renault: Oh. Thank you very much.

Nope, no bias here at Parkside.


So, is bias inherently bad? Liberal or otherwise? If the faculty member signed neither letter, what is the real issue? Is bias really bad or is it really only bad when someone with an obvious bias masks themselves in objectivity? In this case, then, the faculty member was fairly blatant in his liberal bias. Others can take his opinion at face value and do with it what they wish.
No, bias is not inherently bad-- we all have them, and I appreaciate knowing them ahead of time. There are two major problems with bias in academe these days.

The first is that the bias is far, far too heavily weighted to the left. A hugely disproportionate percentage of faculty and staff are democrats/liberals, and much of that bias is now bleeding into the classroom, thus influencing students. Which would be okay if they received counter influences from the other side of the spectrum. But since there are few conservative voices in today's universities, the faculty's bias serves more as indoctrination than as one perspective on the world.

The second problem is that many faculty don't realize, or don't acknowledge, that they have this bias. This causes them to present their slanted viewpoints as "balanced and fair." Thus, any views that are more conservative than the faculty's come to be seen as far-right or extreme. The whole spectrum of opinion winds up scewed way to the left, so that centrists positions seem radical, and extreme left-wing positions seem run-of-the-mill.

Thanks for the comment!
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