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Backlash against MIT’s blacklisting of teacher forces it to adopt Free Speech Resolution

MIT: unsure of its support of free speech

Today’s blacklist story is really a follow-up on an earlier story from November 2021. At that time MIT had cowardly bowed to the demands of the intolerant left and cancelled a lecture on planetary science by a planetary scientist, Dorian Abbott, merely because Abbott had also posted videos on line advocating the radical idea of free speech.

This action by MIT however did not go unnoticed, and in fact produced an aggressive backlash from both alumni and faculty members. The alumni withdrew their financial support to the school, while a group of 73 faculty members signed a letter demanding the school support free speech.

The faculty suggest[ed] the adoption of the Chicago Statement, which states, in part: “[T]he University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn,” and that “it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

Out of this effort the MIT Free Speech Alliance was formed, aimed at forcing these changes at MIT.

Now, less than two months later, it appears that this effort has borne fruit. On December 21, 2022 the university’s faculty voted 98 to 52 to adopt its own version of the Chicago Statement, reaffirming its full support for dissent and freedom of speech.

The MIT resolution is not perfect, reflecting in it the large number of faculty that opposed the idea of free speech. For example it says the following:

At the intersection of the ideal of free expression and MIT community values lies the expectation of a collegial and respectful learning and working environment. We cannot prohibit speech that some experience as offensive or injurious. At the same time, MIT deeply values civility, mutual respect, and uninhibited, wide-open debate. In fostering such debate, we have a responsibility to express ourselves in ways that consider the prospect of offense and injury and the risk of discouraging others from expressing their own views. This responsibility complements, and does not conflict with, the right to free expression. Even robust disagreements shall not be liable to official censure or disciplinary action.

In other words, you should have freedom of speech, but you must also work hard not to offend anyone. While this standard is what all civilized societies have followed for centuries, in today’s climate it can easily be bent perversely to silence any speech that anyone claims is “injurious” to them.

These doubts aside, the strong support by a large majority of MIT’s faculty toward freedom of expression is very encouraging. It suggests that it is still possible to find such Americans teaching in American colleges. If only more of them had the courage shown by these MIT’s faculty. If they all stood up to the intolerant bullies trying to silence dissent the blacklisting would quickly end.

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  • Col Beausabre

    So there are 52 Fascists on the Faculty Senate – there should be zero

  • pzatchok

    The counter revolution starts with just one act.

    We just need to up the volume of our protests against their injustices.

  • sippin_bourbon

    “So there are 52 Fascists on the Faculty Senate – there should be zero”
    More than one third of the faculty.

    But consider this: There are some that are voting this way out of fear of being cancelled themselves. So not fascists, per se, just cowards.
    Others voting because they think it is “progressive”, and have not fully considered the matter. These are the useful idiots.
    And of course, some that would have voted for it, if it had included the the inclusive and flowery language. You basic Karens.
    And then you have those that voted this way, not because they are fascist, but because they are really, deeply anti-American. They are not fascists either. They are the communists and socialist that have always been hiding in academia.

    Peel away those, and you are left with your fascists.

    So called anti-fascists like to point out that the fascists and the communists fought against each other in WW2. That was 80 years ago. Today they are united in their effort to take down The Republic known as the United States of America.

  • wayne

    I’ll drop this in here as ‘related’:

    “Professors defy court censorship”
    The Tennessee Tech incident
    Kurt from Uncivil Law (Jan 4, 2023)

  • wayne: What makes this case tricky is this: What the two professors said that got them in trouble were outright lies, based on no facts. They called someone a “racist” merely because he was conservative.

    In a just world, the accused would sue for slander and win in a heartbeat. We no longer live in that world.

    For the university to look the other way when two of its professors publish slanderous lies about someone is very problematic. As much as I oppose punishing people for what they say or for having opinions, a line should be drawn at some point. No one should be free to defame or slander others, expressly to get them blacklisted (which was the goal), without risking some pain.

    This conflict is what makes this case tricky. We will never end the blacklist culture today if we do not rein in the urge to name-call and slander others, nonchalantly.

  • Cotour

    Related, because its all related.

    (Which is desperately needed)

    What we are all witness to today (now yesterday) where there is a group of relatively young, more Conservative elected Republican representatives in Congress that refuse to elect what can only be characterized as a weak and more RINO than anything Speaker of The House, Kevin McCarthy?

    IMO you are watching the birth of the new young blood Republican party and it is desperately needed.

    “Trump Tells Conservative Lawmakers to Stick with Kevin McCarthy”

    And you are also witness to the further diminishing and becoming politically irrelevant former president D. J. Trump.

    And have no doubt, Trump has served as a great modern-day leadership example for the strength and focus that the Republican party and the country must have. Well done D.J. Trump! BUT, he is now IMO politically irrelevant and only a political commenter at this point.

    At this point IMO Kevin McCarthy will fail to become the Speaker. Whatever potential risk exists in opposing McCarthy it is IMO worth it. Break it and then rebuild what needs to be rebuilt in the stronger leadership pro American model.

    My choice has been Jim Jordan for Speaker from the start, Jordon is a pit bull and does not back down. He says he does not want the job, but who cares? Not me. Whoever comes out in the end as the Speaker of the House will have the job and they will have to live with it.

    Whether in the end McCarthy is elected Speaker or not he will be bowing to and being owned by either the Left or the Right because he is not a strong leader to my observation.

    Who is McCarthy willing to make the deal with? His own party who needs strength and strong leadership? Or a deal with the Left who he will have to serve as a RINO traitor?

    I say get rid of McCarthy altogether and make Jordan Speaker, Byron Donalds or some other strong middle ground reasonable, strong, dogmatic, when necessary person Speaker. And then move on and take care of business.

    “Kevin has done the work and he deserves the job” means absolutely NOTHING to me. That is the problem, McCarthy is well trained to comply and not lead.

    If you keep doing or using the same people for a job you need to desperately to get done and nothing gets done besides the same old results, what does that say about you? You are either fearful to change as needed or you are crazy. Choose one.

  • BLSinSC

    I wonder if PRESIDENT TRUMP is not using the REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY on the DEMOcrats like you’d use on CHILDREN “if you don’t eat your spinach then I’ll eat it”!! With the DEMOcrats also getting to vote, if they wanted a RINO McCarthy then they could just swing a few votes and he’d be in, BUT, since PRESIDENT TRUMP gave him a little push the DEMOcrats are now steadfast in opposition!
    I read where one Speaker Election went through 133 ballots before selecting a Speaker – and that was BEFORE we had many more States!! I think it took about six months – how much IMPROVEMENT would we see if Congress could NOT operate for SIX MONTHS??

  • Cotour

    No, I have to disagree.

    Trump is unable to rise to the occasion and become more than instead of the same. A president MUST be able to transcend him or herself and rise above themselves and Trump IMO has clearly not been able to accomplish that. And he is now just a commenter, his influence has been diminished as a result of his failure in this area.

    Trump as we all know is Trumps worst enemy. No one beats Trump without the help of Trump. Really a unique personality and force in the world. But his political career is over from where I sit.

    And keeping in mind that I was one of the very first particularly here on BTB that identified Trump as being “The man” and would be the next president and I stated why. And many were slow to catch on. But things have taken their course.

    And that is not lessening the very special and desperately needed service and leadership that Trump has provided for the country and the world. The Democrats and the Globalists despise him for a very good reason, Trump is 100 percent American and has acted in the interests of America and the American people. And he and the Constitution stand squarely in the way of their agenda and that is why must go. Trump shook it all up revealed them all for what they are and has paved the way.

    What is Trumps problem? Trump while an excellent president remains subjectively within the Pedestrian Realm perspective, and that is what makes him relatable to a massive number of Americans. BUT, not being able to merge and raise himself into the Political Realm and retain his independence and vision for the country limits him and his potential. Even Trump has his limitations, and he has sacrificed greatly for the country, and I respectfully salute him for his very valuable service on the level of the Founders.

    Trump is politically over IMO in the context of being a political leader and influencer and is now an icon of the Conservative movement
    and has to reinvent himself going into the future.

    And to be sure I have never seen anyone who has been able to take such incoming and pressure as I have seen Trump and apparently retained their sanity.

    The future now belongs to the young bloods in the Republican / Conservative party and what we are witnessed to is that emergence.

    Kevin McCarthy? A part of the old dusty good old boy leadership model and because he is “Next in line and deserves it” is not why you receive the job of speaker.

  • sippin_bourbon

    So… getting back to the topic.

    Was Dorian Abbott’s position restored?

  • Cotour

    It is all related.

    All injustices, all perversions, all corruptions within academia, within the corporate world, within government are related.

  • sippin_bourbon: Abbott was not a professor at MIT, and never lost any teaching position. He was simply going to give a lecture there. If you click on the earlier blacklist story, he was given the chance to give that lecture on the same day and time digitally by Princeton.

  • M J R

    Remember, these faculty are very largely (but not solely) S.T.E.M. people. I would not expect this pushback to be a trend making its way to universities and colleges generally.

  • Mike-SMO

    While it is encouraging that MIT eventually supported the blacklisted prof., it sounds like the University has been recruiting the wrong type of individuals as students. At every university that I have been involved with, it was expected that you would be exposed to a range of opinions, usually well supported by a factual analysis. If an individual was offended by anyrhibg outside of the “official” political narrative, they best better retreat to the burger factory or coffee bar that birthed them. They are unfit for the academic environment.

    It is worrisome that one third of the faculty did not endorse the concept of free speech. What has MIT been recruiting? It is heartening that Princeton offered an alternative venue, but that does not excuse the intolerant behavior of MIT.

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