Wednesday, February 09, 2005


The Open Society and Its Enemies

I firmly believe that the road to hell is being paved by people of good intentions.

On a market for ideas, the value of a personal belief is not necessarily decreased just by having the government prohibiting people from stating their point of view. (As in hate-speech laws, riot laws et cetera.) On the contrary - it might actually increase the political importance of a certain ideological pattern. Neo-nazis all over the world profit from the attention they get when they are being prosecuted for racial remarks. Noam Chomsky has become a cult figure, and has cleverly marketed himself in this fashion over the years, to groups that find his estrangement with main stream U.S. policies (and government) as something to be respected.

Banning someone from speaking their mind is not the way to win an intellectual argument. It is the direct opposite of an open society - it is suppressing the very freedom that is supposed to be the birthright of that society.
In the case with Ward Churchill (see my posts on this blog: 7 February, 5 February), the hightened attention around his speech has made a growing number of American scream for his expulsion from U of Col at Boulder. (See reports from AP.)

But there should be time for reflection here. I have written so before. Universities are not political lapdogs for politicians to do with as they please. And it seems as if there are others out there who also believe that the best way to do battle with Churchill and his ideological friends is by putting up an intellectual argument within the academic community.

According to this post from the Academic Bias blog:
We suspect the University of Colorado is acting not out of principle but a
desire to quell a public relations disaster. If the university wants to make
amends, hire a professor to do battle with Professor Churchill’s ideas. That is
the way towards truth, not silencing voices we find disturbing.

Oh... and to keep politicians from tampering with the academic community and its research I further stress that all public universities should be closed down.

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