Today’s paragraphs come to us from Dennis Prager’s latest commentary at townhall.com. They concern the minuscule number of academics who have signed a letter which supposedly defends free speech.
From Mr. Prager:
Now that student mobs at universities around America (and elsewhere in the West) have silenced conservative speaker after conservative speaker, it has dawned on a small number of left-wing professors that the public is beginning to have contempt for the universities. As a result, a handful of academics at a handful of universities have signed statements on behalf of allowing “diverse” views to be heard at the university.
These statements are worthless.
While some of the professors who have signed them may sincerely believe that the university should honor the value of non-left free speech, one should keep in mind the following caveats.
First, the number of professors, deans and administrators who have signed these statements is very small.
Second, while no one can know what animates anyone else, it’s a little hard to believe that many of those who did sign are sincere. If they are, why haven’t we heard from them for decades? Shutting out conservatives and conservative ideas is not new. Plus, it’s easy to sign a letter. You look righteous (“Of course, I support free speech.”) and pay no price.
Third, these statements accomplish nothing of practical value. They are basically feel-good gestures.
If any of the rioting students read these statements — a highly unlikely occurrence — it is hard to imagine any of them thinking: “Wow, I really have been acting like a fascist, rioting and shutting down non-left-wing speakers, but now my eyes have been opened and I’m going to stop. Even though my professors have taught me that every conservative is a sexist racist xenophobic Islamophobic hatemonger, next time one of these despicable human beings comes to campus, I will silently wait for them to finish talking and then civilly ask challenging questions.”
As you can see, Mr. Prager is snidely skeptical, seeing this as a ridiculous underreaction, designed to accomplish nothing other than maybe covering the backsides of a few academic types who can now say “See, I was for free speech. Honest” – as someone who comes to a flood site with a coffee cup, fills it a few times, and says “See, I’m helping to get rid of the flood waters. Honest”.
Dennis Prager’s snide skepticism is what wins him Paragraphs Of The Day honors today. Because he is giving this “gesture” exactly the credibility level it deserves.