Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Barone's Misstatements About Higher Education

Michael Barone, who was a senior editor at US News & World Report, has a particularly inept syndicated column today. Barone makes many errors and ludicrous claims in asserting that "America’s colleges and universities have become, and have been for some decades, the most closed-minded and intellectually dishonest institutions in our society." According to Barone, "Where did speech codes come from? There certainly weren’t many when I was in college or law school." He's wrong. Colleges have always had speech codes, in many cases worse-written codes than the existing (flawed) ones.

Barone also claims that speech codes "are enforced unequally, so that no one gets punished when students take copies of conservative alternative campus newspapers left for free distribution and dump them in the trash. But should a conservative student call some female students 'water buffaloes,' he is sentenced to take sensitivity training — the campus version of communist reeducation camps. The message comes through loud and clear. Some kinds of speech are protected, while others are punished." In reality, few people are punished for campus thefts, whether conservative or liberal (I have a direct experience with this), and the student who yelled "water buffaloes" at UPenn was never punished at all.


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