Discourse

Free speech on college campuses suppressed across the English-speaking world

Multiple reports confirm that actually, conservatives' claims are legitimate. Free speech has been strangled on college campuses in Canada, America, and Britain.
Henry George
Henry George United Kingdom

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Conservatives have long complained about the hostile environment on college campuses. This has been written off as complaints about nothing by irrelevant right-wingers with no power, relevance or influence in the culture. Now, multiple reports confirm that actually, conservatives' claims are legitimate. Free speech has been strangled on college campuses in Canada, America, and Britain.

In Canada, according to a free speech index by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms' annual index which measured the state of free speech at 61 Canadian public universities. The majority of these universities valued diversity of characteristics rather than diversity of thought and belief.

From this report we can see that only 21 percent of universities claim to uphold the values of free speech and thought and open enquiry. This as opposed to 69 percent to proclaim the furtherance of diversity as their highest institutional good. On a ranking from A-F, out of 61 institutions, only six earned an A grade, a "slight improvement" on 2019. Small comfort.

Meanwhile, the number earning an F jumped from 8 in 2019 to 13 in 2020. There was a far larger increase in F grades than A grades. Freedom of conscience on Canadian college campuses is going the wrong way, with inconsistent application of rules to speakers, with those proclaiming more universalist liberal values on race and gender cancelled or protested.

The situation in Canada is replicated in America, where the James G. Martin Center shows that tiny numbers of American college faculty consider themselves conservative, or even simply not far-left. In humanities, 4 percent are conservative, while in social sciences it's 5 percent. Between 1995-2010, universities went from leaning left, as one would expect, to being almost entirely left-wing across the disciplines of economics, history, journalism, law and psychology.

As this graph posted by Matt Goodwin on Twitter shows, of 1,141 research university professors surveyed, 3 out of 5 fields were filled above 60 percent by those who consider themselves "strong democrat," with sociology above 70 percent and only economics below 50 percent. Republicans are virtually non-existent.

Further to this, 30 percent of sociology faculty said they wouldn't want Republican supporting academics hired. Ideological capture of higher education happened through a concerted effort, not by accident. The more hegemonic left-wing control of academic departments is, the more ideological dissent is suppressed.

This is why, as another report by FIRE, College Pulse and RealClear Education shows, issues of freedom of speech and conscience are such a problem among students themselves. This report shows 60 percent of students self-censoring at least once, with this rising to 72 percent for conservative students.

Issues around race-relations are understandably felt to be extremely difficult to discuss, with 42 percent of all students and 66 percent of black students feeling this way. This is still worrying given university would seem to be the one place to address these in a spirit of free and open dialogue.

This kind of intolerance and suppression of heretical ideological doctrine is not confined to the North American landmass. The new moral framework has also been entrenched in British universities. Spiked ran a free speech index of British universities from 2015-2018 and returned extremely poor results every year. This year, the think-tank Policy Exchange added to this picture of woe with its report, Academic Freedom in the UK.

It finds that 75 percent of UK based academics voted left, compared with 20 percent voting right. While 9 percent of academics in the social sciences and humanities voted Leave in the EU referendum, and only 7 percent identify as conservative. Furthermore, only 54 percent of academics would feel comfortable sitting with a Brexit Leaver at lunch, and only 37 percent would feel comfortable sitting with somebody with gender-critical views. The report details a range of areas of censorship and self-censorship, both in the faculty and student body.

When added to the overwhelmingly left-wing administrative staff in all three countries, these levels of partisan capture create an ideological monoculture that inevitably sets the boundaries of what is acceptable to discuss and what is unacceptable. Anything that goes against the radically socially-constructivist worldview of what Wesley Yang calls the Successor Ideology is seen as an assault of the moral worldview of its woke adherents.

The majority of the faculty are the seminarians disseminating the new faith, the students are the monks imbibing and incubating the teachings, while the administration act as inquisitors to police and enforce the new moral standards.

This situation didn’t arise because of the 'invisible hand,' but rather a deliberate policy on the part of overwhelmingly left-wing hiring committees to hire people with the same ideological priors, to suppress research that doesn't conform to Successor Ideology precepts, and to craft codes of speech and conduct to stifle any form of thought or speech that threatens the ideological control of these institutions. What happens on campus doesn’t stay there, and we are all now living with the consequences.

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