Phi Beta Cons

A Straw-Fetus Argument

Some drivel from “academic freedom” advocates in the Chronicle:

A Yale University student’s art project that portrays her as inducing her own abortions has drawn a firestorm of criticism from all along the ideological spectrum, but it is protected by intellectual and artistic freedom, said officials of groups that defend academic freedom.Yale should not only refuse to bow to outside pressure to cancel an exhibition of the artwork, the officials said. But the university should also use the exhibit as a tool to explain the value of free expression, even in cases when what is said—or displayed—is offensive.

The episode at Yale has prompted questions about what constitutes legitimate academic work and how far universities should go in giving voice or providing a platform to students who express outrageous and offensive opinions

These writer’s-voice statements — and the quotes from others to back them up — show a willful ignorance of the issues here. No one cares about the expression; it’s pretty much agreed that we need to tolerate repulsive ideas. Were the artist to paint a picture of an induced miscarriage, or write a fictional story about it, or even advocate the practice, “academic freedom” advocates would have a point.
Unfortunately, what’s at issue here is the behavior of trying to impregnate one’s self repeatedly for the sole purpose of inducing miscarriage — and the university giving credit for it.


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