Koch-funded "academic freedom" grifters run into trouble at Wellesley


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/06/koch-funded-academic-freedom.html


Koch-Funded Academic Freedom Grifters is the name of my new k-pop polka jazz metal electric toaster and washboard band. We’re totally legit. Totally.


“Now the program’s head is taking a year off to teach “elsewhere.”

It’s just their gap year before transferring to business school.


Let me reveal my ignorance. What does “no-platformed” mean?


It means preventing someone from speaking or writing at some venue. Rescinding speaking invitations, shouting down speakers, etc.


Outside of Scientology topics, Jane Mayer is my current spirit journalist.


And “failing to no-platform,” being a double negative, means… gave an opportunity to speak?

Double-plus good!


That “cottage” seems to have turned into a 30 story glass tower in recent years.


Kind of. Think of a defensive line in soccer failing to prevent a shot on goal. Indicates that the job was to prevent getting a platform, which didn’t happen (the job). Or a failure to lock out an unwanted person.



You keep using this phrase like the rest of us are supposed to inherently understand what it means. If you’re going to invent verbs, could you at least send out a memo next time?


Sorry, I forget how esoteric some of my activism is! Yes, no-platforming is the opposite of academic freedom, and Cushman, Dreger etc. regularly attempt to no platform their ideological opponents while pontificating about the need for academic freedom. Academic freedom, like patriotism, is the last refuge of a scoundrel.


At my institution, academic freedom is the battle cry of lazy instructors who don’t want their courses scrutinized, who don’t want to follow recommended practices, who don’t want people to know they autopilot their courses by using every resource the publisher gives them and literally just read publisher notes as a “lecture.”


It’s a fairly nuanced position on advocacy and free speech in Universities. My former Student Union had a ‘no platform for racists and fascists’ policy, which meant that societies were not allowed to use Union facilities to host events with, for example, British National Party speakers.

Contrary to some hyperventilating claims, this is not the same thing as preventing somebody you disagree with from speaking. They’re welcome to do it in their own building, or in another venue someone’s prepared to hire them, or indeed on the street outside the Union building. But our facilities were not available.

We had similar claims of censorship because we had a policy not to stock The Sun newspaper in our shop. Given that we didn’t stock the vast majority of things that are available to buy, that also had to be taken with a pinch of salt. And the students got to decide whether to continue it at the AGM every year, of course.


in the same way “failing to murder” means “gave an opportunity to live.”


Maybe we should just call it “Koch blocking.”


I didn’t want to say anything, but I think “Cushman and the Freedom Project” have been making easy listening covers of all your stuff and cashing in big time!


So, sometimes no-platforming is a good thing (preventing those we don’t want to hear), sometimes it’s a bad thing (when it’s used against us).


It seems to me like the term “no-platforming” is a distracting albatross. For a start (see above), it’s unfamiliar and alienating, which plays into the hands of the kind of faux-reasonable asshole who likes to demonise “SJWs” etc. But also, more subtly, it takes something that should be a slam-dunk (not helping nazis express themselves) and frames it as something much easier to disagree with (actively taking away someone’s opportunity to speak).

It’s like, if you run a lecture course at Sarah Lawrence on gender consciousness-raising, no one expects you to invite speakers from Boko Haram, and you shouldn’t, and you won’t. But if you actively say you’re “no-platforming” them, you’re saying that (a) their views are comparable in credibility to your other speakers, but (b) you’re silencing those views. Just by using the words, you’re undermining yourself, dignifying toxic bullshit, and providing a big old handle for trolls to create fake controversy, and not saying anything important anyway.

You can say things like “don’t hire that asshole bigot” and “don’t take cash from assholes” just fine without ever talking about “no-platforming”.


Are you saying no ideas are beyond the pale?

And just to be clear, no one is saying even speech beyond the pale should necessarily be censored or punished. It just doesn’t merit a legitimizing platform.

And just to be clear again, the main issue at hand here as i see it is the hypocrisy of those who no-platform after having cried about their frozen peach after having been no-platformed themselves.


Not to me.

Haters gonna hate anyway.

No, the term implies that they’re welcome to spew their destructive, murder-inspiring hate elsewhere. Just not on a legitimizing platform, since any “debate” about some 'ideas" was settled a hella long time ago.

Ironically enough, it seems like you’re agreeing with Nazis who wail about their free speech rights having been taken away, when all that’s happened is they’ve been no-platformed.