Saturday, March 10, 2012
Be Careful What You Wish For
I went to the University of Rochester. I received an excellent undergraduate education there. It continues to be a great center of higher learning to this day. It frequently makes news. Usually, the news is about some discovery from the physics department, or a medical advance by the medical school. I learned alot. I took instrumental music lessons at the Eastman School of Music, the world class music school associated with the university. One of the best classes I took was with a professor named Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (who is no longer at UR), He is now known as a modern day Nostradamus for his uncannily accurate predictions of future events. Thirty years ago, I was fascinated by a (very early, very limited) version of the theory he is now using. I really enjoyed going to school there. Except the first two years when I learned the hard way that I really didn't want to be a math major. And except the upstate New York weather, which was miserable. And except for my stunted social life. Alright, make that my non-existent social life. I started at Rochester in the fall of 1971. Vietnam was winding down, but there was still a draft. My birthday came up as an extremely high number in the draft lottery (thank God), so I didn't have to worry about that. And then immediately after the lottery that covered me, the draft was abolished. That pretty much ended the anti-war protests. And then Congress (controlled by Democrats in the wake of the Watergate scandal) cut off our putative allies in South Vietnam in the face of an invasion by North Vietnam. That happened in 1974 or 75, while Ford was president. Looking back, I think that was one of my first steps on the road to becoming a conservative. That and watching uber liberal George McGovern run one of the worst presidential campaigns in modern history against Nixon in 1972. I worked (for McGovern!) in that campaign but could not bring myself to vote for him. All of which is a preface to the point of this post. The U of R is in the news again. But this time its not for the usual stuff. This time, a tenured professor made public comments about the ginned up Congressional testimony of Sandra Fluke (yes, it was ginned up -- $1,000/year for birth contol? It's closer to 10% of that amount) and was dumped on by the school's president. That was bad enough. It should not have happened, but tenure means the professor need not worry about his job. Of course, non-tenured professors, other employees and even students need to worry about whether the expression of their own opinions will draw the same reaction, but that can be written off as the president expressing his own opinion on a heated subject. Now, however, we learn that some seventeen students, or maybe thirty, tried to physically prevent the professor from conducting his normal lecture by invading the lecture hall while campus security stood by and did nothing. See the photo at the second link. Is that how my alma mater encourages the free and open expression of opinion? Is that how liberals do the same? Everyone, on every side of every issue should always respect the rights of a minority to disagree and to express that disagreement. Everyone should realize that they will not always be in the majority, and that the way they treat people in the minority now can and probably will be adopted by the minority when the roles are reversed. When (not if) seventeen, or thirty, or three people not enrolled in a class attempt to disrupt a liberal professor's delivery of his or her lecture because of his views concerning the political issues of the day, the left will complain that fascism is alive and well on campus. And they will be right. Of course, they would also be right if they said the same thing today about the actions of those students shown in the photo in the Democrat & Chronicle. And, most unfortunately, unless the president of the university acts to punish those students who tried to disrupt the lecture, they would be right to say the same thing about the inaction of the president.