Confusing Speech And Action

Thio Li-ann, a Singapore law professor, was forced to resign from an NYU human rights course after students protested what they called her anti-gay views. Dr. Thio, for one, "supported the imposition of a $15,000 fine on a free-access Singaporean television channel for presenting a gay couple and their child as a family unit." It seems to me that gay rights supporters should always, always, always defend the freedom of speech and association of our opponents. In a free and open debate, we will always win because our arguments are so strong. And yet the authoritarian part of the left is often there, waiting in the wings. We need vigilance against them and their arguments, including the poisonous concept of hate crime laws. Atlantic correspondent Wendy Kaminer writes:

The trouble is that the petition in opposition to Professor Thio imagines her appointment as a violation of NYU's "own policy of nondiscrimination." In other words, gay students (and members of other historically disadvantaged groups) are said to suffer actual discrimination when the administration hires faculty members who argue against anti-discrimination laws. This confusion of speech and action -- of advocating for discrimination and actually engaging in it -- is common in academia, where academic freedom is too often limited to the freedom to advance prevailing ideals of equality.

The refusal of law students even to hear opposing views, reflecting opposing moral codes, is particularly worrisome. I wouldn't want one of these future lawyers ever advocating for me. They're unlikely to learn how to argue effectively if they limit their law school debates to matters about which only presumptively reasonable people disagree. Uniformity of opinion breeds complacency, close-mindedness, and a tendency to mistake attitudes for arguments.