Readers of this blog know that I’ve focused a lot of attention on matters of speech--free speech that is. Yes, I’ll cover other academic issues but speech is at the core of what we do. It is at the core of free enquiry. It is at the core of teaching. It is at the core......well, you get the point.
I’m happy to say that people in positions of power are taking notice. The Wisconsin system just adopted a statement on free speech modeled after the University of Chicago’s statement.
However, what struck me were comments made by trustees about the necessity of listening. Speech, of course, is only 1/2 the issue. The other half is that people--including professors, students, activists, ect....--should listen to the other side. And not just listen, but THINK.
I like to tell people that just because an idea or a criticism came from the right doesn’t automatically make it wrong. As scholars and students, we should try to understand what motivates individual cognition and not simply dismiss contrary viewpoints.
Listening, of course, takes effort. Thinking objectively takes even more effort. However, it is only by listening to contrarian views, dispassionately weighing evidence, and realizing the limitations of our own views that we learn and, eventually, change our minds.
You can read about the free speech statement here:
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology