Letter to the Editor: Against political correctness on university campuses

Bart Greene

adult-1868003_1280The website home page of the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies’ displays a manifesto:  nine members of the Department wringing their hands about the recent political campaign and its aftermath. The professors claim to “stand in solidarity with all members of our community, regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, disability, or country of origin.”

Having earned 60 credits at UNF after earning degrees elsewhere, I consider myself a member of the UNF community. The professors do not speak for me and I suspect that they do not speak for all UNF students.

The Department’s declaration reeks of the political correctness that is destroying American universities. It contains these politically correct euphemisms: “undocumented persons” (illegal aliens), “differently abled” (disabled), “LBGTQ persons” (an alphabet soup of sexual preferences).  These insipid euphemisms are designed to distort reality, not to reveal it.

The full letter on the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies homepage.
The full letter on the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies homepage.

But what is much worse is that their statement ignores the distinction between speech and action. The professors refer to “actions, including words and statements, that are based in hate” and to “violence in language or in action.” With rare exceptions (such as incitements to violence or Justice Holmes’ famous example of shouting fire in a crowded theater), statements are not actions and they are not violence. They may be offensive or unpopular. But when they are expressions of opinion, statements are precisely what a university, and especially a department of philosophy, should encourage.

The professors do not cite any inflammatory language uttered during the campaign. Thus it is impossible to evaluate their claim that the campaign was full of “hate and bigotry.” Such claims should be based on evidence. If they are not, then a careful reader will reject them.

I hope that this overwrought manifesto is not an example of the analytic methods these professors teach their students. If it is, then any student who values intellectual rigor will be well advised to to avoid the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies.

Author Bart Greene is a 71-year-old from Ponte Vedra. He is a post-baccalaureate student focusing in mathematics and computer science. 

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