Criticism is not censorship. In particular, criticism by people without power of people with power is not censorship. But you wouldn’t think it from this Washington Post story in which professors accused of propagandizing in class complain that conservative students are intimidating them. Young Conservatives of Texas maintains a “watch list” of professors the group feels are biased and promote personal agendas in class.
(Austin) Kinghorn insists the list is a tool for students to make informed course choices. Critics call it a blacklist whose goal is to intimidate liberal professors and cramp academic freedom.
The list censures (Journalism Professor Robert) Jensen, for instance, for subjecting “the unsuspecting student to a crash course in socialism, white privilege, the ‘truth’ ” and “using class time . . . to ‘come out’ and analogize gay rights with the civil rights movement.”
In response, Jensen, who said he is bisexual, said the list could have an ominous effect on the faculty: “If professors are constantly worried about being branded liberal, and not just liberal but inappropriately executing their duties, then it’s going to make people a little nervous and there’s a self-censorship effect.”
Students self-censor if they disagree with a close-minded professor. (Kinghorn, who was taking a class from Jensen in September, 2001, switched his major from journalism.) Do professors really cower because conservative students — a minority on almost any campus — criticize their teaching? Jensen, by the way, has written a book called Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream. And he’s worried about being branded liberal?