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After Brexit, snowflake professors need to grow up'Stupid', 'racist' and 'uneducated' – many academics think that these three wordscharacterise the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit. They are upset by the referendum and universities are so concerned with staff wellbeing that they are offering academics Brexit therapy!
Freedom of speech in a therapeutic ageRoy Harris (2009) and Adrian Pablé (2012) have argued that integrationists, in their philosophy and in their linguistics, have a Socratic approach to freedom of speech that sees vigorous and robust debate as the foundational freedom. Everything must be put to the test of criticism. Every citizen has a moral duty to defend freedom of speech and every academic has a duty to defend freedom of speech as the foundational freedom of the academy. Freedom of speech has historically been restricted and controlled at various times dependant on the contingent concept of human being at any time. Authoritarian attempts to control speech and antipathy to human freedom to assent or dissent from established opinion are familiar. In contemporary therapeutic culture restrictions on freedom of speech appear more kindly but are more authoritarian. Seeing human beings as diminished, vulnerable or mentally unwell provides the basis on which the state and its institutions can intervene and regulate freedom of speech and freedom to hear. Bans and censorship are now seen to be necessary to protect vulnerable individuals rather than to protect the cherished but untested ideas of the new moral elites. The kindliness of the new authoritarianism makes it harder to challenge without the challenger being seen as a victimiser. In the contemporary therapeutic university the right to assent alone is allowed. Even body language, sighs and ironic utterances are questionable. The therapeutic university is becoming the silent university. As the university is the embodiment of societal attitudes to freedom of speech what we are seeing is the creation of the silent student and future citizen who dares not speak; not for fear of being harmed but for fear of harming vulnerable others. References Harris, R. (2009) Freedom of Speech and Philosophy of Education, British Journal of Educational Studies, 57 (2) June 2009: 111-126. Pablé, A. M. (2012) Excommunicated on the grounds of Harrisy: Roy Harris, Linguistics and freedom of speech, in Ashley, LRN & Finke, W (Eds.). Language Under Controls: Policies and Practices Affecting Freedom of Speech: Selected Papers from the International Conference, September 23-24, 2011. East Rockaway, NY: Cummings & Hathaway: 1-12.
Is it time to rethink the 'university'?Jeremiads abound on the ‘end’ or the ‘death’ of modern universities. There are claims that they are been severely compromised by ‘neoliberalism’ and social changes and left behind by technological advances. An increasing number of writers believe the university has been transformed turned into ‘safe spaces’, an extended school environment, that infantilises students. Many people describe this ‘crisis’ in academia but few offer any visions of the future and fewer still try to propose alternatives. This is an essay based upon a 'Thinking on Sunday' lecture given to the Conway Hall Ethical Society at Conway Hall, London on Sunday 4 December 2016.