There is a fascinating public debate going on in the pages of the Louisville Courier Journal. It seems that the law school at the University of Louisville recently embraced a “social justice” ideology and, even more recently, wanted to market themselves as a “compassionate” institution.
In a rare public display of intellectual debate, various law school professors have taken to the newspaper to air their positions and to criticize each other.
Let me say first that each side provides a reasoned platform and that the level of debate is scholarly. In this sense, I think the exchanges serve as a template for other scholars and the public to follow.
If you read each letter in sequence, you get a good idea of what is going on inside U/L’s law school and how destructive partisanship is to professional and social relationships. This is one reason why institutions should, in my mind, remain politically neutral. Political values ARE moral values....which makes for a combustible mix when one set of values are embraced over another by those in power.
Speaking of power, the letters state that an assistant dean went so far as to file a complaint against a law school professor for the sin of.........if you can believe this......telling students that nobody had a right to tell them what to believe and that they should find their own calling in life. Boom. There you have it. Tolerance in action by the social justice crowd.
Social justice means many different things. Some see it as an ideology of fairness, equality, and humanism. Others, however, see it as something much more fearsome. They see it as coded language for liberal hegemony.
The term aside, however, I always find it worrisome that individual scholars who wish to have their vaunted moral values and political ideology embraced and institutionalized simply do not understand when and why people disagree with them.
Professors in favor of embracing this ideology see it as “benign," as one person stated. Another said that professors don’t have to embrace the ideology......they can continue to do what they want to, teach their classes, ect.
All of this may be true but tell me how you would react if your school embraced libertarianism, conservatism, or the religious codes of several denominations? You wouldn’t have to embrace libertarianism.....you could go ahead and teach your courses, research what you wanted, and live your life......right?
Sound fair to you?
The worst part of all of this is that it tilts the education of students towards certain viewpoints, leaves other viewpoints unexamined or, worst, stigmatized.
Partisanship causes a rearrangement of social dynamics that favor some groups and disadvantage others, it rewards certain viewpoints and punishes others, and it absolutely corrupts and poisons a necessary element of eduction: trust.
Education should be nonpartisan, otherwise you cannot trust what you have learned to be true.
My hats off to the law professors at U/L for their very public dialogue on this important issue.
Read here: http://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/2016/01/16/uofl-law-professor-veered-partisan-agenda/78903362/
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology