Here’s a bit of weekend reading for you on a current issue, specifically the deterioration of free speech on the nation’s college campuses as well as in social media and all other public forums. There’s a case which may be coming to the Supreme Court that started in Texas, dealing with a retired veterinarian who dispenses medical advice for pet owners online. What’s that got to do with free speech? George Will explains at the Washington Post.

Dr. Ron Hines, 72, of Brownsville, is a licensed veterinarian with a PhD in microbiology. He is physically disabled but eager to continue dispensing his healing wisdom worldwide, which he does using the Internet and telephone. He estimates that about 5 percent of those he speaks to are in Texas. He neither dispenses nor prescribes medications. But in 2005, the Texas legislature, with time on its hands and nothing better to do to perfect the state, criminalized such electronic veterinary advice.

Students of contemporary government will instantly understand that this was not done to protect pets, none of whom has complained about, or been reported injured by, people like Hines. Rather, the legislature acted to protect those veterinarians who were vocally peeved because potential customers were getting online advice that, even when not free, is acquired at less expense and more conveniently than that gained from visits to a veterinarian’s office.

The state of Texas has suspended Dr. Hines’ license to practice and will, apparently, lock him out of this lucrative business where he once earned as much as $2,800 in an entire year. This is a clear case of rent-seeking, as Will describes it, and the government was employed as a tool to squash competition. The reasoning here is that other practicing veterinarians were unhappy that Hines was giving out low cost medical advice about people’s pets over the web, thereby causing some of them to not go to the local office and pay to get their advice about Fluffy’s bad breath. But it’s not just a business… it’s also Hines’ right to freely offer his opinions on a subject where he is an expert.

The trend on college campuses, however, is perhaps even more disturbing and far reaching. Take the time to read Yale Gives in to the Grievance Culture by Peter Berkowitz at Real Clear Politics. He discusses the four key areas where the Ivy League school has agreed to implement changes in response to the demands of aggrieved minority student protesters. All are troubling. They include:

  • The construction of a “transformative, multi-disciplinary center” to study “race, ethnicity, and other aspects of social identity.”
  • Expanded financial support for its four cultural centers.
  • A sweeping program to educate the Yale community about “about race, ethnicity, diversity, and inclusion.”
  • Broadening “the visible representations” of minorities on campus through portraits and commissioning works of public art.

Programs that study race, ethnicity, and social identity of the sort Salovey is dramatically expanding tend to be highly politicized and are almost ensured to foster a culture of grievance. They generally proceed from the premise that inequality and injustice are not only rife in America but belong among the nation’s distinguishing features. They promote advocacy of social justice, progressively understood, rather than skeptical and rigorous analysis that confronts public policy from a variety of critical perspectives. They treat conservatives and conservative ideas as part of the problem and unwelcome in their domain and deliberations. Their self-professed goal is to change the world rather than to understand it.

That’s beautifully summed up, but it only scratches the surface of the two key questions. First, is this a university which ostensibly exists to provide an education and prepare students for life in the adult world or is it an ongoing social experiment? If the latter, that’s one heck of an expensive social science project. But second and perhaps more important is the issue of whether or not students should be challenged in their preconceptions or reinforced, leading to some sort of cultural herd mentality? The new promises from Yale’s administration lean heavily toward the latter.

Speaking of backing down to student demands, let’s have a quick update from Mizzou. Down in Missouri, the students are now apparently running the school and are currently demanding a role in the administration’s hiring policies. (Yahoo News)

Some University of Missouri students told the system’s governing board Friday that they want to play a part in deciding who will be the next chancellor at the flagship campus in Columbia and the next president of the university system, and said the school needs more faculty of color…

Shelbey Parnell, one of the organizers of the Concerned Student 1950 group that camped out for days on campus in protest of Wolfe, said students, faculty and staff should have a role in choosing Wolfe and Loftin’s successors. Parnell said members of the system’s other campuses also need a voice in picking leaders.

In inmates are running the asylum, folks. College costs a lot of money and a great deal of deliberation goes into selecting which school you want to attend. (Or at least it should.) If you don’t like their policies, don’t apply. Or if you get there and find them unsatisfactory, transfer to a better school. But as a student you are a “customer” of these services. That doesn’t mean you run the store. Your feedback is welcome, but shutting down the campus, disrupting the studies of the students who are actually there to learn and trying to take over the HR department are not.