Friday, August 26, 2016

"Free Speech Is the Basis of a True Education. A university should not be a sanctuary for comfort but rather a crucible for confronting ideas."

In my opinion, freedom of speech is vital for an alive Dharma practice. Therefore, I have previously written and spoken of the importance of freedom of speech in Dharma life practice.

I was glad to read the article "Free Speech Is the Basis of a True Education", from which I will quote some significant passages below (and link to). After the article excerpts are some links to my previous work.

"Students grasp the complexity of collecting, analyzing, interpreting and deriving meaning from evidence of multiple forms. They learn to imagine alternatives, to test their hypotheses and to question the accepted wisdom. A good education gives students the intellectual skills and approaches essential to success in much of human endeavor.

One word summarizes the process by which universities impart these skills: questioning. Productive and informed questioning involves challenging assumptions, arguments and conclusions. It calls for multiple and diverse perspectives and listening to the views of others. It requires understanding the power and limitations of arguments. More fundamentally, the process of questioning demands an ability to rethink one’s own assumptions, often the most difficult task of all.

Essential to this process is an environment that promotes free expression and the open exchange of ideas, ensuring that difficult questions are asked and that diverse and challenging perspectives are considered. This underscores the importance of diversity among students, faculty and visitors—diversity of background, belief and experience. Without this, students’ experience becomes a weak imitation of a true education, and the value of that education is seriously diminished.

Free expression and the unfettered exchange of ideas do not always come naturally. Many people value the right to express their own ideas but are less committed to granting that right to others.

Over the years, universities have come under attack from a range of groups, both external and internal, that demand the silencing of speakers, faculty, students and visitors. The attack is sometimes driven by a desire of an individual or group not to have its authority questioned. Other times it derives from a group’s moral certainty that its particular values, beliefs or approaches are the only correct ones and that others should adhere to the group’s views. Some assert that universities should be refuges from intellectual discomfort and that their own discomfort with conflicting and challenging views should override the value of free and open discourse."

The rest of this article by the President of the University of Chicago, Robert Zimmer, with interesting comments by other readers, is at:

And here is another link with details of the related actions by the University of Chicago:

Here is a recent blog which summarizes some of my thoughts on the importance of freedom of speech in Dharma life practice:

Freedom of Speech - A most important Dharma protection even for those with whom we disagree, especially for those with whom we disagree.

Here are two Dharma talks on this:

Freedom of Thought, Freedom from Thought   5/22/15
Freedom of Thought, Freedom from Thought Part 2   5/23/15