Universities and elsewhere in life

No, that’s not right.

It’s really not true that it’s “as true in universities as elsewhere in life.” She works at a university, as an academic (as opposed to an accountant or maintenance engineer), so you’d think she would know this. Universities do in fact have a particular duty to keep speech (and writing and teaching) as open as possible. That’s because of what they’re supposed to be doing – it’s a vocational requirement, pretty much. Their job isn’t to inject information as one might inject filling into a chocolate, their job is to educate, which includes content but also includes methodology. It’s part of their job to educate young people in discussing and analyzing and arguing about what they’re learning, and thus anything else they might need to discuss and analyze and argue about. For this reason they need to keep things pretty open. Not 100% open; I don’t think the mission requires universities to allow verbal abuse; but as open as is compatible with reasoned conversation.

So, no, universities don’t really have some peculiar “right” to refuse to talk to people they consider obnoxious. They generally have the ability to do that, but the rest of us can dispute their choices.

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