Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pop culture and academic freedom; the David Gilmour shitstorm

David Gilmour has stirred up a hornets' nest of political correctitude with a candid interview he gave to Hazlitt.

While there's no shortage of folks scrambling to climb aboard the shit-on-Gilmour bandwagon, it's disheartening to see that no senior admin at U of T has found the balls to throw down the academic freedom card.

That's the same spinelessness that allowed Tom Flanagan to be hounded out of the University of Calgary earlier this year. Increasingly the "academy" limits itself to recycling pop-culture verities and cowers in fear when one of its own is being crucified for violating popular conventions.

David Suzuki set the tone for socially sanctioned intellectual bashing with his attack on Phillipe Rushton back in the 1980's. Suzuki proved that a media personality had far more popular credibility with the general public than an academic insider, and defenders of the principle of academic freedom were few and far between in Rushton's case, and have been fewer with every controversy since.

Once the academy internalizes self-censorship to appease the prevailing winds of popular prejudice, the rationale for having an academy in the first place is cast into doubt.

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