Free speech, but only when “we” like it

Free speech, but only when “we” like it

Earlier this month, Harvard president Larry Summers, a former Clinton administration Cabinet official, caused a blowout when he proposed that maybe there are fewer women in science because there are differences between men and women. He said this at a symposium on the issue where everyone was supposed to be free to express themselves without recrimination. They even excluded the press for that very reason. Well, one woman didn’t like what he said, stormed out, and called the media.

The Boston Globe editorializes on the topic and ends with the following recommendation:

There is also pressing work for Summers. He should continue to raise controversial issues and tough questions. But he must do so with greater diplomacy and a keener knowledge of current issues. Future queries might ask both about individuals—why are few women in science?—and institutions—why doesn’t science attract more women?

Summers was already asking those questions, hence the symposium. But it was the answers, or at least the propositions he was willing to debate, that got him in trouble. Apparently, “greater diplomacy and a keener knowledge of current issues” are code words for bowing to politically correct sensibilities by telling people what they want to hear rather the bringing up unpopular theories.

In other words, we’re allowed to have free speech, but only when it’s popular, which really means there’s no free speech at all.

[Hat tip to Best of the Web Today]
  • The fundamental question here is whether a disparity between the numbers of men and women in science careers necessarily implies either discrimination against women or a bias among women against science careers that should be rectified.

    It seems that academia and the secularist left are simply incapable in participating in rational discourse about this matter.

  • George Will has an article (linked by NRO) in the Washington Post skewering the reaction of Nancy Hopkins. After defining hysteria he goes on:

    “Someone like MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins, the hysteric (see above) who, hearing Summers, “felt I was going to be sick. My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow.” And, “I just couldn’t breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill.” She said that if she had not bolted from the room, “I would’ve either blacked out or thrown up.”

    Is this the fruit of feminism? A woman at the peak of the academic pyramid becomes theatrically flurried by an unwelcome idea and, like a Victorian maiden exposed to male coarseness, suffers the vapors and collapses on the drawing room carpet in a heap of crinolines until revived by smelling salts and the offending brute’s contrition?”


  • In a moderately sane environment, in both academia and the mainstream media, Professor Hopkins would be seen as a bumbling nitwit.  Alas, for decades, both institutions have been largely under the nanny thumb of frenzied women and their varied allies who intimidate the likes of President Summers by their bullying antics, giving the lie to any form of objectivity and civil debate. 

    In all fairness to these institutions, the same happens with “progressive” Catholic women’s religious orders.  Civility goes out the window whenever discouse includes opinions and/or facts that run counter to the true believers.  Here, in a nutshell, is the contemporary inquisition.