Free Speech Does’t Have Just One Side

So far I’ve been impressed by new UW System President Jay Rothman. Yesterday Rothman announced that he was directing system campuses to eliminate any questions for job applicants about diversity, equity and inclusion. Rothman recognizes that requiring statements about what a candidate has done in that regard favors ideologically liberal candidates. If anything campuses need a greater diversity of points of view, not more conformity.

Rothman made that announcement at a hearing of the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, led by Rep. Dave Murphy. Murphy has been conducting a series of hearings on the free speech climate on UW campuses. That’s a worthy topic for discussion, but Murphy is holding hearings on free speech in which he… limits the speech that may be heard. Murphy is only allowing invited speakers to appear and they all come from one side (his side) of the debate.

Jay Rothman

For example, yesterday I wrote about the dust-up over a panel that would be critical of those DEI questions that had been scheduled for the Medical College of Wisconsin. Murphy invited a critic of the college’s decision to move the panel off campus, but he refused to invite the college leadership to explain why they did it. In my view, Murphy should have gone even further and invited the faculty who signed a letter claiming that just having the panel on campus would do “harm.” I would disagree with the faculty, but I’d like to hear what they have to say. Maybe they’d have some argument that I haven’t considered.

My point is that you can’t say you’re for free speech when you only want to hear one side of an issue — and that applies to both the liberal Medical College faculty and the conservative Murphy.

Have a nice weekend.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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