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PostThe Wind(s) of Freedom (Ronald Hilton, USA, 05/05/98 7:47 am)
President Gerhard Casper is thoughtful and foresighted; he is also observant. He gave some time ago a talk about Ulrich von Hutten and his slogan, which is Stanford's motto, "The Wind[s or breeze] of freedom blows". When I wrote my counter-piece saying that von Hutten meant freedom from moral restraint, the President sent me a friendly protest saying that I had not been at his lecture. True-- little escapes his observation--but I had read the text. WAIS Fellow Ron Bracewell sat in judgment with a piece "Will the wind of freedom start blowing?" With a scholarship worthy of von Hutten, he explains the historical background and comments on the variants of the text in German and Latin. The remarkable thing is that Ron is an electrical engineer from Australia with an expertise in trees. His wisdom is proved by the fact that he finally comes down on my side: "Hutten's freedom for one is his social status included the activity that led to his terminal disease, the genital condition appraised in an edict from Worms as punishment from God".
The irony about academic freedom is that if a university president spoke issued an edict about "gays", there would be an uproar. In the old days, homosexuality led to expulsion from the faculty. A Harvard colleague lost his job that way. One complaint was that gays appoint other gays. Decades ago, the Geography Department at Yale was abolished because it had become a pride of gays. We have just survived Gay Pride Week. San Francisco, the Paris of America with weirdoes, had a major parade. In Paris, France, where gays from all the world have taken over the historic district of Le Marais as their capital A huge pride of them held a parade, waving national flags and strutting their stuff.
Which reminds me of the solemn 1991 ceremonies at Stanford commemorating the university's centennial. At the most solemn minute, the gays invaded the Quad and put on a display. Terrible public relations on their part, but the reverent crowd just grit its teeth. Going back to my memo about religion at Stanford, there have been gay marriages in Memorial Church with triumphant parades afterwards. For a long time there was on display in the Church a bisexual crucified Christ with large breasts. No official said boo. Imagine what Mrs. Stanford, who insisted on the centrality of the Christian faith in the university, would have said and done! Today, desecration of the Church would be a minor offense, but woe betide those who deface the Gay Liberation Monument.
July 4 brings us back to the concept of Freedom. As
Andre Chenier said, "What crimes are committed in your name!" More about
The Wind(s) of Freedom: Clarification
The problem was not gays, but to the crude disruption
of a solemn Stanford ceremony and of the traffic in Paris. As I said, I
think it was terrible public relations. I don't want to convert anyone.
I merely think we should keep an open mind and that our beliefs have to
evolve. "Licht, mehr licht!"That is the only way peace can be kept. And
I cannot stress enough that WAIS offers a free forum for informed and
open-minded individuals. I don't like Bernard Shaw, but I admire him for
one reply. We was invited to address a women's club, which offered him a
fat fee; the only condition was that he must not discuss sex, religion,
or politics. He replied: "I will talk for nothing, but I will discuss
only sex, religion and politics." Correct thinking has long been a
More on The Wind(s) of Freedom
Our current university system discourages the exchange of ideas. Faculty members shut themselves up within their department, indeed within their special field. For the last thirty years political correctness has replaced the old conservatism of universities, which has taken refuge in a number of politically oriented Associations or foundations. The two groups confront each other. At Stanford this peaked during the administrations of President Donald Kennedy and Hoover Director Glenn Campbell.
The present university administration does not encourage serious discussion of "multiculturalism" since minorities might use it as a pretext for name-calling or violent action. Protests against the banning of the Stanford family statuary group to exile in a storage area has led to the decision to place it close to the Stanford mausoleum, as though the family ideal were as dead as the Stanfords. There is no indication that the gay liberation statuary will be moved from its place of prominence in Stanford life. The Hoover Institution has other causes, notably education vouchers and the flat tax.
Neither side can take much
encouragement from "The New Education Bazaar" (U.S. News and World
Report, April 22, 1998). It is a cold, rather critical assessment of
charter schools. The multiculturalists should meditate on the picture of
black kids with clenched fists reciting a daily pledge to "my African
nation." A few days ago Brian Lamb conducted a long TV interview with an
aging, indeed moribund Stokely Carmichael, whose revolutionary ideal is
the African republic of Guinea, where he hopes to be buried. In the
name of multiculturalism, are we bringing up black kids with such crazy
Regarding The Wind(s) of Freedom
The memo on the "wind of freedom" fell on fertile ground. Among the comments are those of Dave King: Your comments on current lack of truly free discourse at Stanford and other places are on the mark. How about this? Put out the challenge to the list on how this might change. What could be done to open up discussion of some issues that are presently only glossed over? How do we enable people that presently self-censor themselves to speak more freely? And I'm not referring to those that harbor racist or bigoted impulses. But even those people, as I understand our society, have the right to express themselves. It's up to the rest of us to prove them wrong. If a great University isn't the place to discuss/debate things, where is that place?