Last month I discussed (here and here) what can only be called the hypocrisy at the core of the lawsuit by liberal law professors against the Solomon Amendment, which allows the U.S. government to cut off funds for universities that refuse to allow military recruiters on campus.
The lawlibs claim the amendment violates academic freedom. They may well be right about that, but I would be more inclined to sympathy with their position if some of their number would acknowledge liberal error in failing to support little Grove City College when it made the same argument, to no avail, in the 1980s. For that matter, the lawlib argument today also has much in common with the argument Bob Jones University, which lost its tax exemption, to liberal joy and acclaim, because the Supremes held that not only its First Amendment right to academic freedom but also its First Amendment right to the free expression of its religion was trumped by the IRS’s interpretation of the claims of “public policy.” (I discussed Bob Jones here and here.)
All of which proves, or at least suggests, that it’s very hard for liberals to make principled arguments about the right to be free from discrimination based on race, sexual preference, etc., these days since they have spent the better part of the last generation undermining that principle.
The argument that “Liberal Academics Get What They Ask For” is made much more eloquently in a new article by that name by David Bernstein. He concludes:
The irony, of course, is that the same liberal “civil rights” activists who now oppose the Solomon Amendment, adopted in 1996, had supported previous efforts to ensure that the federal government could use its financial power to force private universities to obey draconian antidiscrimination rules. In other words, the troubling consequences of government regulation of universities’ internal affairs have come full circle.
I’m not sure that hypocrisy is ironical, but I am sure that you should read the whole thing.
UPDATE – For a characteristically provocative discussion of an interesting academic freedom controversy that is brewing in Michigan, see Erin O’Connor’s post on the objection of some Michigan legislators, and others, to a UM English (!) course entitled “How to Be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation.” Be prepared, however; Erin makes clear that this matter is not as simple as you may think.