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July 31, 2007

Re: Thought for the Day

Gina,

That quote about academia reminds me of Stanley Kurtz' posts over at The Corner yesterday (here and here), in which he advocates eliminating tenure for professors. Of course, Kurtz is concerned with the effects of the obvious ideological groupthink more than the quality of writing and concludes thusly:

More than anything else, the conversion of tenure from a protector of academic freedom into an instrument of ideological exclusion is responsible for the destruction of the campus marketplace of ideas. Tenure is the cornerstone of the campus political-correctness problem, and even beginning a serious effort to remove it would almost certainly shake up the entire academic system. The time to consider a serious campaign to eliminate academic tenure has come.

I'm not a writer, and if Jim Gleeson were to deign to review my posts, he could have some fun at my expense. But I am deeply concerned with the current dearth of instances of the marketplace of ideas. Where is it, after all, that one can freely debate politics and (more importantly) faith, if not the college classroom? The workplace? No, that's considered poor taste. Church? Sure, so long as you are going to spout the proper, conventional maxims, pulled from the "correct" Christian authors and pastors.

We need more instances of the marketplace of ideas. That requires creative thinkers to generate new venues for such marketplaces, but it also requires taking back ground that's been lost. Including the universities. I don't know if eliminating tenure is the answer, but I don't know of any better ideas either.

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