Lawrence University vs. Free Thought

, Malcolm A. Kline, 4 Comments

When Students for Free Thought, a group at Lawrence University, attempted to screen the documentary Can We Take a Joke? on their campus late in the Spring, they discovered that their classmates were not a particularly light-hearted , free thinking bunch.

“Can We Take a Joke? includes footage of incidents where outraged college students shouted down speakers they disagree with,” the film’s director, Ted Balaker noted in a column distributed by the James C. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. “Ironically, that’s pretty much what happened at the Lawrence screening. Some students shouted at the screen, then a dispute erupted; one student was asked to leave, and organizers stopped the film halfway through the screening.”

Guess who the university president sided with?

“At the core of our educational mission is the free exchange of ideas, viewpoints, and information; we are committed to productive discussion of issues that are crucially important to every one of us, and to our community as a whole,” university president Mark Burstein wrote in a e-mail to the “Lawrence Community” on May 23, 2017. “Moreover,” he continued, “while we recognize and support the value of expressing, discussing, and debating ideas, we do not believe that all ideas have equal value.”

“We hold equity and the creation of a just society as core principles, and will continue to affirm these in all we do.” In other words, he sided with the hecklers.

Perhaps these educated elites need to realize that if you protest a joke too much, you become one.