Historically, institutions of higher-education have been a bastion for free speech and the exploration of ideas. Academia should be a community where ideas can be openly discussed and criticized. However, this element of academia is being threatened. In recent years some topics have become off limits because they are considered distressing, offensive, or controversial. Some examples of suppression of free expression were the highly publicized student-protests against right-wing guest speakers at several universities and colleges this past year. Two that come to mind are the protest against Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California Berkeley, and more locally, the protest against Charles Murray at Middlebury College. While I firmly support the students right to protest the ideas and values of these speakers, the protest of these speakers rights to share their ideas and values is problematic. The censorship and suppression of topics deemed too problematic sets a dangerous precedent that is being adopted by university officials and publishers of academic journals.
It must be noted that the ideas that these specific pundits are putting forth seem to be deliberately inflammatory, and are even meant to invite and incite violent behavior against them.
The censorship in the academic community has spread from trying to stop political commentators from giving talks to the suppression of research professors employed by these universities. There are several cases of researchers having their work rescinded from journals or even being fired from institutions. Georgia Institute of Technology professor of mathematics, Theodore Hill published a paper titled An Evolutionary Theory for the Variability Hypothesis which proposed there was a greater variability of intelligence (and other traits) among men than women, i.e. there are more men at the low and high extremes for individual traits. The paper was subsequently removed from two journals not because of its scientific merit, but because of the potential political ramifications. And this is not the only instance of politics getting in the way of academic research. David Zaruk a professor at Saint-Louis University was recently fired and claims it was because of his stance on GMOs. And a study on gender dysphoria published in PLOS ONE and written by Lisa Littman, a physician, was pulled in August for further review.
Instead of allowing these topics to be presented and debated, they are being stopped in their tracks with the justification that they will be used to discriminate
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