Will NoIndoctrination.org enhance or undermine free speech?

It’s not particularly new. They started this sort of thing around the time I was getting out of college roughly 30 years ago. (Of course, then it was the students, not their mommies.) A couple of them were co-opted by large school text publishing firms (e.g., Barrons) and they have, of course, migrated to the internet, such as the seven separate ones listed at Back to College. I suspect that with enough competing sites, they are going to dilute the possibility of any real evaluations, as a person would need to know all the sites where information was posted in order to collect enough information to be useful.

(I was interested to note that the majority of reviews tended to be positive. Whether this is due to disgruntled students not bothering to log their complaints or some sort of editing by the poll owners to avoid lawsuits, I have no way of knowing.)

I agree that this opens the door to a rash of arbitrary, petty, and stupid accusations. I don’t have any problem at all with profs expressing political opinions anyway, as long as they’re up front about it. I had profs of both persuasions in college. I had a prof in a government class who was very conservative and said so in class. I wrote a term paper which was very liberal and disagreed with him on a number of points. He gave me an A. I think educators should absolutely invite debate, it’s part of learning how to think. I never saw a prof, no matter how liberal or conservative, who ever graded a student on whether or not he/she agreed with them politically. I don’t like the idea of giving students a whine line where they can scapegoat teachers for their own academic failings.

The University of Texas has been doing this ever since I attended. They’re called Slam Tables and consist of white butcher paper taped to tables positioned around one of the major libraries on campus. Roughly, each table gets a major and you can write whatever you please about whomever you please on them.

They are very entertaining but worthless. What they taught me is that students don’t usually give a damn about political affiliations of professors; they want to know that the class is easy. When they do care about political affiliations, their definition of bias is always “doesn’t agree with me.”

-fh

“Dude, that Professor Smith gave me an ‘F’… he’s a Fascist Commie Racist Homophobe!”

Why would an entity have to be a governmental agency to have an impact on free speech?

While it is true that no one aside from the govt. can take away an absolute right of free speech there can be limitations placed upon free speech by other groups, at least with regards to exercising free speech and not suffering a detrimental impact in another area of your life. As an example look at Bill Maher: he called America (or America’s military leaders) cowardly and saw a rapid drop in his ratings, sponsorship pulled, and his nationally syndicated show lost overnight. The lesson learned is that you cannot have a successful piece of media if you are going to voice unpopular views so a choice has to be made: your success or your real opinion. Unsurprisingly many will choose success.

As far as this website in the OP is concerned I took december’s comment to mean that professors might feel nervous to voice their real opinions out of a fear of having an anonymous attack posted online which will threaten their future livelihood. My opinion on that is the overall effect on free speech will be negligible because people will see the site for the pile of crap that it is and not take it seriously.

Actually Maher’s show was cancelled many, many months after Maher made that comment – after his ratings dropped. It’s nothing new that a piece of entertainment, TV, movies, concerts, etc., must be popular to continue to be shown.

Yes, that’s what I meant. Sadly, I tend to agree with your prediction. It would be nice if the power of embarassment deterred the occassional extremist Professor from abusing his/her power, but for reasons given by Asylum and others, I don’t think this site will do the job.

Because there is no such thing as “private” free speech. A private individual or entity that has authority over you can absolutely and unequivocally censor or eliminate any form of speech you may attempt. It has to be a governmental agency we are talking about, or we are talking about a non-existent “right.”
You bring up Bill Maher. Bill Maher’s free speech rights were never impinged by ABC - because he never had any. Mr. Maher could have said exactly the opposite of what he did, and ABC could have yanked his show just as quickly.

Sua

Sua,

It would appear that you are confusing “free speech” with “the right to free speech”. Two different things.

IzzyR, the confusion here is between “free speech” and “speech.” There is no free speech or a right to free speech in the non-governmental context.

Sua

Actually, Maher’s ratings DIDN’T drop. He did lose some sponsors, but his ratings stayed the same.

And he was right.

IzzyR,

Without a right to free speech, speech isn’t free. It is always at the sufferance of those with authority over you. NoIndoctrination.org may expand or retract the boundaries within which those with authority over the listed professors will suffer the professors’ speech, but it has no impact on whether the speech was free in the first place. Multiply anything by 0 and the answer remains 0.

Sua

Of course there is - free speech can exist independently of the government. It is not a right that is guarenteed by anybody, though. But it can exist, and can be subsequently limited.

(This is not an endorsement of the OP, BTW. Looks to me that this is just another obscure website that will not have any impact on anything. And frankly, I don’t have much of a problem with this type of free market limitation on free speech.)

My previous post was directed at a previous Sua post.

Even govenmental free speech is at sufference of the government. The government has granted (or recognized, if you prefer) the right to free speech, to a large extent. A university or other private entity can do the same. I don’t see any difference.

Similary, if I let you in my house or message board and offer you to say anything at all that you want, you have free speech as a practical matter, though not as an enforcable right. If I subsuquently retract that offer, or if someone else limits your abilities in that regard, your free speech has been limited.

This is probably just a disagreement about definitions. But speech in the non-governmental context cannot only be limited, but eliminated - witness Mr. Maher - and for any reason. Further, it ain’t free if it is arbitrarily granted in the first place - again witness Mr. Maher.

Sua

I agree. m-w says

Under definitions (1c) and (1d), speech may be more or less free without reference to government. These are the definitions the OP meant to allude to.

But neither c or d apply, december. A professor was already subject to outside control or domination before the web site was founded - the administration of his/her college.

Just because the administration hasn’t exercised that domination and control doesn’t mean that the professor’s speech was “free,” much like the fact that the state trooper didn’t pull me over for speeding when he passed me meant that my speed was “legal”.

Sua