A fascinating article titled, “Academic Inquisitors, in one of the few truly intelligent newspapers left on Planet Earth: the Wall Street Journal dated October 16, 2007. It is worth reading.
Remember Larry Summers? Oh, yes. Remember the beating got? Oh, yes.
Regardless of whether you agree with Summers or not, the way academia has behaved and continues to behave over a statement that he made tells more about academia than it does about Larry Summers. That is the simple truth of it all.
Assume for a moment that Larry Summers was\is dead wrong. That his opinion about why women do not enter or succeed in the sciences or his opinion about the genetic preponderance that leads to disenchantment of women with the sciences is all hog wash.
Assume Larry Summers said something that was embarrassing to “intellectuals” all over the world. Now what? Do you remember ever saying something stupid? Do you remember doing something that was embarrassing? Do you remember when the words just did not come out right? Do you remember being misunderstood? Now what?
We in academia guard academic freedom as our birth right. Larry Summers also has academic freedom to air controversial views. We in academia are trained (or at least we think we are) to ask controversial questions, hold controversial views, and take controversial positions. As a community of individuals who value academic freedom, would we not have the curiosity to engage in a dialog about the views aired by Larry Summers and held secretly by many men and women? What are we afraid of? An honest discussion?