Luana Maroja has published a piece in Common Sense. (Note 1)
Her concern is apparently with freedom of speech, but she opens with:
‘If you had asked me about academic freedom five years ago, I would have complained
about the obsession with race, gender and ethnicity ..’ This is a strange. How is concern with race, gender and ethnicity related to academic freedom, or is this coded speech? How does concern about race and gender become an ‘obsession’? Is this not a case of one person’s obsession is another’s irrelevant issue? She even repeats the lie that goes back to Shockley and the 1950’s that research on race might help oppressed minorities. Dr Mengele and members of Unit 731 would have much appreciated such a defence.
She later states: ‘The restriction of academic freedom comes in two forms: what we teach and what we research’.
Now, this is really interesting. Is the banning of ‘gain of function’ research a restriction on the freedom to do academic research? Would banning the research of apartheid South Africa on developing pathogens aimed explicitly at Black Africans be a restriction of academic freedom to research? How about banning research on newborn babies or on aborted foetuses? Would that also be simply a matter of academic freedom?
Gain of function research, experiments on foetuses, experiments on prisoners, and bioweapons research in general are hardly simply matters of academic freedom.
We can also ask about teaching how to create nuclear weapons or to make homemade bio weapons, or other similar topics. This may not be considered appropriate. Is this merely a restriction on the freedom to teach?
In the past, the consensus was enforced by the funders and so there was often little debate. Administrative measures would silence or exclude those who were outside the then ’consensus’. No debate would be necessary. Now that the consensus has broken down these people pretend that in the past, everything was OK. What they are really saying is that in the past, people whose opinions they did not like were silently excluded. Now they are faced with being excluded (and not always silently) and they do not like it. They are claiming this is a breach of academic freedom.
US universities were notorious for excluding communists, radical Blacks and others outside the consensus. Even in the world of science, researchers outside the consensus such as Rupert Sheldrake (during Maroja’s heyday of freedom and earlier) get banned and prevented from working. During the Covid pandemic and even today scientists who questioned the Covid consensus were threatened or dismissed and prevented from working. The scientific establishment enforces its rule with draconian efficiency and ruthlessness.
Maroja’s real complaint is not about academic freedom but her freedom to do as she pleases. She is not concerned about other people’s freedoms at all.