Thought for the Day: The Woodward Report Revisited

Back in 1975, after several years of the earliest expression of leftist anti-intellectualism in colleges and universities, Yale commissioned historian C. Vann Woodward to lead a Commission on Freedom of Expression at Yale, and write a report on academic freedom. Here’s one excerpt from the conclusion:

The primary function of a university is to discover and disseminate knowledge by means of research and teaching. To fulfill this function a free interchange of ideas is necessary not only within its walls but with the world beyond as well. It follows that the university must do everything possible to ensure within the fullest degree intellectual freedom. The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable. To curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily also deprives others of the right to listen to those views.

It is doubtful that Yale or many other leading universities today would publish the Woodward Report, let alone endorse this view. Certainly there would be faculty and student opposition to it.

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