Losing Free Speech On Our College Campuses

The following article is from October 2020. It is from Mark Crispin Miller’s website.

This is the story:

A full professor in NYU’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication (since 1997), and a recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller, Guggenheim and Ingram Merrill Foundations, Prof. Miller teaches a course on propaganda, focusing not only on the history of modern propaganda, but—necessarily—on propaganda drives ongoing at the time. The aim is to teach students to identify such drives for what they are, think carefully about their claims, seek out whatever data and/or arguments have been blacked out or misreported to protect those claims from contradiction, and look into the interests financing and managing the propaganda, so as to figure out its purpose.

On Sept. 20, after a class discussion of the case for universal masking as defense against transmission of SARS-COV-2 (in which discussion she did not participate), a student took to Twitter to express her fury that Prof. Miller had brought up the randomized, controlled tests—all of those so far conducted on the subject—finding that masks and ventilators are ineffective at preventing such transmission, because the COVID-19 virions are too small for such expedients to block them. Prof. Miller urged the students to read those studies, as well as others that purport to show the opposite, with due attention to the scientific reviews thereof, and possible financial links between the researchers conducting them, and such interests as Big Pharma and the Gates Foundation. Prof. Miller followed up by providing the links to the former studies (not easily found on Google, though they have all appeared in reputable medical journals), and other materials, including a video of a debate on the subject.

The student was so outraged by Prof. Miller even mentioning those studies that she called on NYU to fire him:

The article continues:

Having contacted NYU’s bias response line to report him, and getting no satisfaction there, the student kept on tweeting her demand for Prof. Miller’s termination, due to his “unhealthy amount of skepticism around health professionals,” and a range of other posts that she had seen on News from Underground, Prof. Miller’s website, and found no less insidious, misreporting that their sources were “many far right and conspiracy websites,” and therefore, evidently, not worth reading.

…The student’s call provoked a storm of tweets, many attacking her, and others thanking her—one of which was posted by Prof. Miller’s department chair, promising to act on her demand: “Julia, thank you for reporting this issue. We as a department have made this a priority and are discussing next steps.”

Let’s stop right here for a minute. When did students decide which teachers should be fired? I think it would have been appropriate simply to tell the student to take a different class.

The article notes:

Soon after this pledge of institutional support, the dean of NYU’s Steinhardt School (in which Prof. Miller teaches), together with a doctor who advises them on COVID-19 policy, emailed each of Prof. Miller’s students (without putting him on copy), starting with a ritual nod to “academic freedom,” then hinting that the studies noted in that class were dangerous misinformation. To set them straight, the two advised the students to consult the “authoritative” CDC—specifically, its list of several recent studies finding that masks are effective against COVID-19. (That the CDC itself, as well as Dr. Fauci, had, until April, publicly adhered to the consensus of those “dangerous” studies went unmentioned.) The two concluded with a stern reminder that the students are obliged to mask on campus (although Prof. Miller had made quite clear that he was not suggesting that they break NYU’s rule, which he observes himself.)

Thus that student’s tweets immediately prompted NYU to take her side, and several media outlets to attack Prof. Miller for his dissidence, without interviewing him. The following week, NYU followed up by urging him to cancel his propaganda course next term, and, instead, teach two sections of his course on cinema. Their rationale was that it would be “better for the department,” because enrollment in the latter course is always high; but then so are the enrollments for Prof. Miller’s propaganda course, which has earned the highest praises from its students.

The above information is followed by notes from students praising the professor’s class. There is also a link at the beginning of the article to a petition to sign in support of academic freedom.

What are we doing to our children in the name of education?