Bloomberg On Speech

You can probably count the times I’ve been a fan of Bloomberg on zero fingers.

But this speech blew me away. It’s fantastic. Definitely worth reading every word.

Notable & Quotable: Mike Bloomberg at Harvard – WSJ: “Repressing free expression is a natural human weakness, and it is up to us to fight it at every turn. Intolerance of ideas—whether liberal or conservative—is antithetical to individual rights and free societies, and it is no less antithetical to great universities and first-rate scholarship.

Think about the irony: In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left wing ideas. Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas, even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species. And perhaps nowhere is that more true than here in the Ivy League.

But a university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous. In fact, the whole purpose of granting tenure to professors is to ensure that they feel free to conduct research on ideas that run afoul of university politics and societal norms.

The role of universities is not to promote an ideology. It is to provide scholars and students with a neutral forum for researching and debating issues—without tipping the scales in one direction, or repressing unpopular views.

Requiring scholars—and commencement speakers, for that matter—to conform to certain political standards undermines the whole purpose of a university.

Isn’t the purpose of a university to stir discussion, not silence it? What were the students afraid of hearing? Why did administrators not step in to prevent the mob from silencing speech? And did anyone consider that it is morally and pedagogically wrong to deprive other students the chance to hear the speech?”

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
― George Orwell