There goes my alumni donation


One of the best universities in the world (according to several different standards) is now doing its damnedest to become one of the stupidest in the world, thanks to overzealous nitwits who want to suppress the free speech of their fellows:
In a stunning display of irony, campus crazies at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) are holding a vote to ban the university’s free speech society. Voting is likely to take place at the Union General Meeting this Thursday. [As far as I can tell, it's actually been moved to Monday the 8th now. I think.]
The society was recently founded by a group of students who were concerned that campus activists were becoming too eager to censor and ban offensive speech on campus. Dubbed “The Speakeasy,” the student society planned to challenge campus censors by educating students about the history and importance of free speech, holding debates on controversial topics, and inviting no-platformed (banned) public figures to speak to their members. 
Speaking to London’s Evening Standard, society co-founder Charlotte Parker said, “Our society is emerging from this growing sense of censorship that seems to be a problem on loads of campuses in universities across the country.” 
“We want to encourage discussion of difficult ideas as opposed to closing down debate and undermining students’ ability to make up their own mind,” she said. 
As if to confirm the necessity of The Speakesy, campus activists in the student government have responded by trying to kick the society off campus. Maurice Bannerjee Palmer, a student at the university, has submitted a motion to the student union’s next General Meeting, proposing to ban the society. In an article written for the student newspaper, Palmer condemned The Speakeasy’s founders as “self-important” and “ill-informed.”
Jesus wept.

I have more than a passing interest in this story because, as it happens, I am an alumnus of the London School of Economics. Among other things, I studied economics there (total waste of time) and "majored", if that's the word, in mathematics (highly recommended). I still have several of my old textbooks from my time at the school.

This, incidentally, is why I spend quite a bit of time mocking mainstream schools of economic thought. I know rather more than I should about the "standard" approaches to microeconomic analysis, various macroeconomic growth models, and the "general theory" of John Maynard Keynes that underpins the gigantic intellectual mess that is the modern neoclassical economic synthesis.

While I was there, I knew the school was full of left-wing crazies, and did my damnedest to avoid them, because I wasn't studying a useless subject, like "Philosophy" or "Sociology" or "Language Studies" or "Management". Those of us studying real, serious and rigourous subjects just didn't have the time to waste on such idiocy. And if you look at the LSE course catalogue, what you'll quickly realise is that, although there are still plenty of very hard skull-sweat subjects on offer, it's also a school that caters to the intellectually lightweight, overly sensitive numpties of this world.

Back then, I could avoid the leftist loons simply by staying out of their way and going about my business. And it wasn't exactly like I kept an extremely low profile, either. I wrote a couple of articles while I was there which were published in the quarterly student publication (damned if I remember the name now, but it's out there someplace). One of them was an article questioning whether anthropogenic global warming was really the massive crisis that we were being sold. The response was amusingly predictable: a few readers lost their minds and at least one of them wrote back a rather acerbic comment on the subject which was published in the next edition of that same magazine.

Now, however, it would appear that the self-appointed campus thought police will do whatever they possibly can to keep Badthink and Wrongfun away from their Houghton Street campus. They will not leave the rest of us in peace. And to think that this is an institution that my father paid very good money to send me there to study.

To understand just how big a problem this is, you have to have some idea of what the LSE is all about.

The motto of the London School of Economics is, Rerum Cognoscere Causas. In plainspeakingese, this means "to know the cause of things". The school's mascot is a beaver- don't ask me why. At the annual Raising And Giving (RAG) Week, back in the day, the school's Students Union would sell shirts gently sending up both the motto and the mascot, with a drunken beaver clutching a beer bottle lying catatonic on its back, with the words, "Bevum Causas Nauseam" underneath it. (I still have that shirt.)

What happens the day that these overzealous puritans decide that depicting a beaver is insulting to women and minorities, and that depicting a drunken beaver sends the wrong message to little children?

Ah, you say, but that could never hap-
The London School of Economics is embroiled in an increasingly bitter fight over free speech, after members of its atheist society were forced to cover up satirical T-shirts depicting Jesus and Prophet Mohamed at a Freshers’ fair on Thursday. 
Security guards and SU officers threatened two representatives of LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Student society with explusion after several students complained about the shirts, which featured characters from the popular “Jesus and Mo” webcomic. 
Abishek Phadnis and Chris Moos at first refused to remove their shirts, as well as certain literature, from their stall. They were eventually confronted by a representative of LSE’s legal and compliance team, and its head of security, and told that the T-shirts were creating an “offensive atmosphere” and could constitute “harassment” – and that they were not behaving in an "orderly or responsible manner". 
Oh. Whoops.

Now, if all of this was taking place at some backwater university in California that no one had ever heard of, full of Filipino and Chinese expat students whose rich parents sent their offspring overseas to study, then none of this would make much of a difference. But it's not. This is the London School of Economics, an institution that holds itself in the same league as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and Princeton for a number of reasons.

This is an institution that has for decades prided itself as being home to some of the finest, keenest minds anywhere on the planet. It has been at the forefront of a number of revolutions in economic and philosophical thought. It has held among its students and professors a number of remarkably brilliant people, including 16 (to date) Nobel laureates.

(I know this is hair-splitting, but to be precise, those in that list who won "Nobel Prizes in Economics" technically were actually awarded the Bank of Sweden Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. It's a subtle distinction, but basically it's not a true Nobel Prize.)

The diversity of thought among those Nobel laureates is as remarkable as their intellects. George Bernard Shaw was a socialist back when it was quite fashionable to be one. Friedrich von Hayek was a lifelong defender of economic and human freedom, and shared his award with an ardent Keynesian- one who was so annoyed at the fact that Prof. Hayek was his co-Laureate that he argued that the prize should be abolished, because it had been given to "reactionaries" like the aforementioned von Hayek, and Milton Friedman. And then, of course, there is Paul Krugman, who- back before he became little better than a hack writer for the hardcore left-wing of the Democrats, was actually an economist of some note and stature back in the day.

That diversity of thought and ideology is now under threat from the very young people that the LSE tries so hard to select as carefully as possible.

Back when I was applying for colleges, I was taking the 2-year intensive high-school diploma known as the International Baccalaureate, which is scored on points rather than grades. There are 42 possible points distributed across 6 subjects; a further three are awarded based on the combined scores from an Extended Essay and a Theory of Knowledge project. Getting all 45 points is very, very hard; out of the thousands of students who graduate with an IB every year, only a very small handful, I estimate maybe 20 or 30, get that full 45 points.

LSE's minimum acceptance criteria for students studying its flagship Economic degree, back when I was applying, was 38 points- a very high bar to clear, and one that the vast majority of prospective applicants would fail to clear. Today, it is apparently closer to 40 or 41- in other words, you have to be the very best to go there.

It is a shame, then, that instead of getting the very best and brightest, the LSE, like most other institutions of higher education, is letting people into the gates who actively want to not know the cause of things.

It's not just one or two idiot students at the LSE causing this problem. Take a look at what the LSE Students Union General Secretary had to say on the subject of free speech:
On a broader point, we have to carefully balance wanting to have free speech and ensuring that students have a supportive university environment. There can be a tendency to conflate free speech with the freedom to offend, and it is important that we draw a distinction between the two. They are not one and the same, and the freedom to offend can be used in a way that further marginalizes already marginalized groups.
Oh boy. Apparently this woman has no idea what "free speech" actually means.

Being able to speak your mind absolutely does mean having the right to offend. Some of the greatest examples of rhetoric the world has ever seen were hugely offensive in their time. The very nation of the United States of America came into being thanks to one such offensive document- it's called the Declaration of Independence.

If that magnificent, transcendentally brilliant work was written today, by students from the LSE, every third word in the SJW Declaration of Conformity would trip over itself to hector King George III about the need for diversity, tolerance, and privilege-checking by him and his cisgender heteronormative oppressors. (God Almighty, now I need a drink.)

Being able to speak your mind does not mean that you are free from the consequences of that speech. This is what the precious darlings that comprise LSE's current student body seem to forget so easily. They wish to be protected not only from the causes of knowledge, but from its consequences as well.

That is not the behaviour of intelligent, rational adults. It is the behaviour of whiny, narcissistic crying little babies soiling their own diapers.

Back when we lived in a civilised society, this was something that most people understood: I have every right to call your mother a whore, but I shouldn't be surprised when you punch me in the face for saying it. And, since I was raised with a certain sense of manners and etiquette by a loving but firm-handed mother, I generally tend to refrain from insulting people unless I have to.

What is next? Will the LSESU now ban students from publishing articles that question the prevailing left-liberal orthodoxies of the day? Let it not be forgotten that the very things that liberals take as Gospel today, are often the heresies of tomorrow.

The LSE is now experiencing what countless other institutions before it have experienced: Social Justice Convergence. Even as it tries ever harder to cater to the overly sensitive crybabies of this world, the quality of its once-great teaching and research will wither and decline as people rapidly discover that the value they get out of the school's teaching does not match the (considerable) cost of attendance.

As for me, there is a reason why I have never contributed a single cent to its alumni donations fund since I graduated. I knew the knives were out for free speech when I went there, but, because I was young, impressionable, and not terribly interested in fashionable left-wing politics, I simply stayed away from this nonsense.

Now, however, I am older, rather a lot better off, and far less patient with those who waste my precious time with social justice malarkey.

And I can promise the LSE this: as long as this sort of shit-brained nonsense continues to exist, as long as students can continue threatening freedom of thought and freedom of speech on campus, they will never see a single penny from me, in any capacity.

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