The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Over at the American Association of University Professors' Academe Blog, I have a post on the latest brouhaha over Penn law professor Amy Wax and her views on immigration and the relative virtues of "First World" culture. There are those who say she should be fired or stripped of her teaching duties. There are those who say that she does not deserve the usual protections of academic freedom and that her speech rights should be curtailed. As usual, protections for free speech do not matter much when people are saying things that are pleasant and agreeable. Our tolerance is tested only when someone says something unpleasant and controversial. Read the whole thing here. A taste below:
The Wax case is not a hard case. She should be fully protected from employer sanction based on the content of the views that she has expressed in her public writings and speeches. This principle is foundational to the modern protection of academic freedom, and there is no exception for faculty speech that makes students uncomfortable or contradicts a dean's opinion about the values of the institution. Wax is being criticized not merely for how she says things, but for the very substance of her ideas, ideas that are close to her scholarly endeavors. If her speech is not well inside the protected sphere of academic freedom, then academic freedom has little to offer those who might hold controversial views.
Of course, my views on the Wax case reflect the principles I elaborate and defend in my recent book, Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech, which oddly enough is available for purchase here.