Iron-Cage Intellectual Death Match in Baltimore

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On Wednesday May 5, Reason Managing Editor Jesse Walker will debate David Horowitz at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County. The topic is "intellectual diversity." The event begins at 5:30 pm and will
be held in the UC 312.

These two rassled over Horowitz's proposed "Academic Bill of Rights" here.

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  1. Er, anyone care to explain the viewpoints in contention? Is this a diversity of views vs. everyone being right discussion?

  2. Give him a bloody nose, Jesse, for those of us who think Horowitz is a hysterical blowhard.

  3. Horowitz essentially wants “affirmative action” for conservatives.

  4. Witness the volte face in the following remarks by Horowitz:
    _______________

    “While teachers are and should be free to pursue their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views, they should consider and make their students aware of other viewpoints.” The meaning is clear. The professor has a right to teach the course any way he or she wants. If the professor is an evolutionary biologist then that’s what he or she should teach. All that the Bill of Rights stipulates is that students should be made aware of other viewpoints. There is no conflict between rights here. The Bill of Rights clearly recognizes that the teacher has the right to teach the course as he or she sees fit.

    The only limit to this right is article 5: “Exposing students to the spectrum of significant scholarly viewpoints on the subjects examined in their courses is a major responsibility of faculty. Faculty will not use their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.” Having audited a course at one of the premier liberal colleges in the country, where a 600-page Marxist textbook on “modern industrial society” was taught as though it were a text in Newtonian physics, I can testify that this is very necessary right to protect academic freedom in the contemporary university.

    ______________________

    Note that he argues that there is no conflict between rights here; but of course, there is a conflict (can you of think of a right that does not conflict with some other right?). Clearly if a professor has a right to teach a course as he or she fits, any limitation on that right is a conflict with it; indeed, Horowitz woudl force professors to teach the “broad spectrum” of thoughts on a subject, which would neccessarily include all sorts of hogwash like creationism, holocaust revisionism, astrology, magic, etc.

    Horowitz’s problem is with the subject matter being taught; it has nothing to do with “academic rights.” What he wants is some sort of stupid “equal time” formula which smacks of – to be blunt – affirmative action.

  5. I remember 3 years ago when Horowitz created the reparations havoc. I’d never heard any real serious discussion of slavery reparations, other than an occasional short article every few years along the lines of “Well, there’s some guy out there trying to make this happen but he’s pretty much doomed.” The Horowitz decided to take a non-issue and voice objections to it in a manner calculated to get a reaction. Then he hit the campus lecture circuit, complete with a “security detail.” I went to one of his talks, and he had to start late for “security reasons.” And questions could only be asked by writing them down on paper and giving them to screeners.

    And then he wrote a book called “Uncivil Wars” on the whole thing. Basically, he did his best to provoke the PC loonies, then he did a tour to confront them (and get paid speaking fees) and finally he wrote a book. Not a bad racket.

  6. thoreau,

    There was a university professor from one Colorado who tried to advertise in conservative public and private colleges a little screed about how the Bible encourages abortions. As I recall, out of the twenty or so college newspapers he sent to the ad, none took, and some of the editors sent him rather nasty remarks. Anyway, I am was tangentially in these matters; being a graduate of Auburn, I took it upon myself to harangue the editor of the University of Alabama campus paper about their decision not to publish. In return I got the freakiest, paranoid reply one could imagine. Anyway, I ended up sending my e-mail, her e-mail, etc., to the professor, and we all had a good laugh.

    The point is that just intolerance of ideas is hardly the sole reserve of some PC freaks at some northeastern school.

  7. Horowitz has been around decades and, even before he officially had second thoughts and left the Left, was a best-selling author. Despite what Thoreau believes, reparations have been a big deal in the African-American community, and have been taken seriously on campus (even though they have little popular support). Horowitz wrote a tough but well-reasoned editorial against them and had it published in many campus papers. If colleges were used to open debate, the response would have been a yawn, but because they’re hypersensitive crybabies on race, they were offended anyone would dare question them.

    Since then, Horowitz has felt one of the problems on campus is they’re such an echo chamber that they never hear, or have to take seriously, opposing conservative voices. While I think he has a point, I must agree with Jesse Walker that we don’t need rules that, in effect, force conservatives onto campuses, even if, under the present situation, we’re guaranteed that conservative ideas will gain little purchase there.

  8. As well, most of the comments in here seem to be personal attacks against Horowitz, not any refutations of his point. That the left dominates academia is contested by very few (probably academics) so why are you people so annoyed about someone bringing light to it?

  9. Robert,

    Reparations is at best a fringe movement; Horowitz tried to make it out to be some pressing, mortal danger, etc.

    And as to echo chambers, well, they are prevelant all over the place, even amongst libertarians. Indeed, if you visit Horowitz’s website (Frontpage magazine) you will find one large echo chamber.

    BTW, Horowitz’s article was anything but well-reasoned; I eviscerated both its historical analysis, and its philisophical content; all of which is rather ironic since I agree that reparations are a stupid idea. To be blunt his advertisement was meant to offend people; it was a screed; a document created to foster a lot of noise and little substance. Horowitz is essentially the polar opposite of Al Sharpton.

  10. I am not attacking Horowitz personally. On a personal level he may be a wonderful person.

    I’m attacking something he recently did as part of his career. There’s a difference.

  11. If you are coming to this event, directions to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) can be found @ http://www.umbc.edu/map. Call 215-480-0879 if you get lost and/or need to speak to an organizer.

  12. Rich Goldman,

    Any chance there will be a recording of the event, or a transcript?

  13. Why would you subject yourself to this thug, Nick?

    Horowitz is exactly the same person he was in the 1960s – a loudmouth shouting dirty words to get attention. Those reparations pieces and lectures were written to be deliberately offensive, so he could make a buck off the “Help, I’m being oppressed” shtick.

    It doesn’t speak well of people who can’t recognize the difference between Horowitz’s act and serious conservative treatment of the issues.

  14. We will ask and try to record this discussion, but no promises 🙂

  15. See…THIS is why it sucks to be living in Kentucky right now, and why I consider Baltimore home. They actually have things happen there. I would love to attend this debate. Can we get highlights here on Hit & Run? Please?

  16. Prediction:

    Horowitz will try to interrupt Walker every time Walker starts to make a good point, and other wise act like the grand loud-mouth he is. He will try to silence his opposition, just like the PC activists who dominate colleges today.

    Point:

    One group of loud-mouths is no better than another. Horowitz is merely asking for equal time for his ideas, not the marketplace of ideas. The marketplace of ideas does not need this sort of interference any more than it needs domineering by the left.

    Hope:

    If there is a good moderator, there will be a good exchange of ideas. I hope Horowitz makes his points, then is not allowed to act the way he always does as Walker shows that he is wrong. Keep him him in his place JW!

  17. Hey! There’s nothing wrong with KY. There was a VP debate last cycle at my alma mater, Centre College. SOME stuff happens here. Really!

    Besides, my CCW doesn’t work in Baltimore …

  18. uh, isn’t it enough that when most college liberals get a good job, have kids, accumulate some capital, and realize through close contact how stupid the avaerage mass of humanity is they become raving conservatioves?

    No need to start them feeling that way in college, they’ll all turn into Rick Santorum!

  19. When folks on the right try to employ the coercive tactics of the left, to fight the left, they wind up joining them instead of beating them. (or re-joining them, in Horowitz’s case)

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