Can Diversity Of Thought Co-Exist With Diversity?

At Volokh Conspiracy, Randy Barnett writes of a letter sent to the American Association of Law Schools to express the disappointment of conservative and libertarian academics with their being no room at the Inn for them. It’s orthodoxy v. heterodoxy, and orthodoxy has its hands on the wheel of the truck.

The letter is a marvel of academic moderation, beginning with deep appreciation that the leaders of AALS didn’t spit in their face as they showed them the door. It finally comes to its point:

At this meeting we urged, inter alia, the creation of a Political Diversity Task Force on viewpoint diversity similar to the Racial Diversity Task Force created in 1999 or the three task forces created to deal with issues of globalization.


We fear that the Executive Committee does not take our concerns seriously and intends to take no action to address them. We urge the EC to alter this attitude. Both scholarship and teaching suffer when law schools are echo chambers in which only one side of current debates is given a voice.

This would hardly seem a controversial point, and yet it has not only been ignored (but politely), but ignored while other aspects of diversity, racial and gender, have been elevated to fundamental guiding principles. There appear to be two problems here, the first being that non-progressive academics are outsiders, their ideas shunned and their careers stunted to the extent they’re allowed on campus at all.

The second problem is that there aren’t enough non-progressive academics to create an intellectual balance on campus. Hiring committees, staffed by progressive academics, don’t hire conservative academics (or practicing lawyers, but that’s a different issue).

Josh Blackman raises the second problem, noting three rationalizations for the absence of non-progressive academics.

First, many professors assert there is a pipeline problem: on average, fewer qualified conservative faculty members apply for academic positions.

There may be more validity to this point than some folks want to admit, though the cause of the shortfall is itself a problem. Why would conservatives or libertarians choose to pursue an academic career where they will be shunned, where their research will be ridiculed, where their ideas will be summarily rejected? It’s not like the smart kids can’t go make good money elsewhere.

Second, other professors claim that there is no overt discrimination against conservative applicants, and indeed, they have never seen a resume that exudes an applicant’s conservative philosophy.

As if putting “president, Federalists Society,” doesn’t give a clue. Or that research note about the textualist interpretation of the FLSA while on law review. Right. There are always clues, and if not, there is the interview, where lack of a comfort pig is an obvious cue.

But Josh’s third reason, not often spoken aloud by prawfs, but always in their head, is the real culprit.

Third, some professors acknowledge the problem, and candidly maintain that conservative scholars are simply less qualified because their ideas are worse. Or, to use an anecdote one professor related at a debate I attended earlier this year, “the reason why conservatives don’t get hired is because their ideas are just stupid.”

How do you hire an academic to teach students who is “stupid”? Since brilliant people agree with you, those who don’t have no place in the Legal Academy, not because they disagree with progressive orthodoxy, but because they’re stupid. Or to be less harsh, they can’t be too bright as they’ve arrived at the wrong ideas.

But having pointed out the hiring fallacies, and very politely, near Canadian-like, challenging the AALS’ refusal to budge, there remains a question that neither Randy Barnett nor Josh Blackman has confronted. And there may well be good reason for trying not to deal with it head on, as it could be a deal breaker.

Can diversity of thought co-exist with already extant truisms of racial and gender diversity?

It can’t. It’s not that it couldn’t, had diversity of thought been respected while gender and racial diversity initiatives been crafted, but it wasn’t. What happened was that these initiatives went from efforts to eliminate racial and gender discrimination to discrimination in favor of racial and gender causes. See my bastardized Herzberg theory for a longer explanation.

What constitutes non-discrimination in practice can’t be reconciled with any political view other than extreme progressivism today. Academics try to wrap it up in a pretty bow, which is their strength, but it’s all bullshit. Admit your White Male Privilege or you’re a racist and sexist. Make their feelings the center of your universe or you’re a racist and sexist. Where, in that paradigm, is there room for discussion?

We’re now at the stage of practice (not theory, but practice) where all answers that don’t comport with both the approved values and language are met not with open discussion, but screams of racism, sexism, or some other -ism, as if the mere incantation of these words answers all questions. This has become pervasive.

A while back, I was accused by a female lawprof of “harassing” her by using her name in a post about something she said. Not that she disagreed, but that the mere mention of her name was harassment. Where is there room for discussion? Another female lawprof (hint: Mary Anne Frank), has been caught lying so many times that she could be considered for White House Press Secretary. Not only is she shameless about it, but her progressive colleagues would never consider calling her out for lying as they approve of her goals, and they are so deeply adored that the use of lies to achieve them is totally acceptable and justified.

It’s not that there is no theoretical living together. Of course there is. But the Academy has moved far beyond the theoretical and deep into the tyranny of making its Utopian fantasies a reality. Perhaps this means that non-progressive ideas lost in the marketplace of ideas, although that notion requires that all ideas be heard and given fair consideration. Non-progressive ideas haven’t stood a chance in decades.

But realism, being a bitch, informs us that the Legal Academy build a huge edifice to progressive ideals, ugly and unwieldly, but one that seemed lovely when it was being designed. And now, the monstrosity is firmly in place and there is no room in the structure for academics who don’t love it.

It’s not that Randy and Josh don’t have a point, but the battle has already been lost. Less than radical progressive thinkers can’t co-exist in the structure of racial and gender diversity on campus as their demands preclude dispute and any attempt at discussion will only produce screams of racist, sexist. The only part of the diversity edifice on campus that appears well designed is the echo chamber. That works brilliantly.


29 thoughts on “Can Diversity Of Thought Co-Exist With Diversity?

  1. Roger

    “We’re not at the stage of practice (not theory, but practice) where all answers that don’t comport with both the approved values and language are met not with open discussion, but screams of racism, sexism, or some other -ism, as if the mere incantation of these words answers all questions. This has become pervasive.”

    I’ve been trying to puzzle out the meaning of this, and finally decided it made the most sense if “not” were replaced with “now.” Am I too dense to take your point (a reasonable possibility) or is this a typo?

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s a typo. My editor is a Millennial slacker who is probably still in bed after a night of hedonistic Molson’s brew and bratwurst consumption, immobilize by Canadian giving him the evil eye. Don’t ask.

  2. Patrick Maupin

    Do intellectuals, confronted with words they feel in their bones are incorrect, really apply Hanlon’s Razor and assume the source is stupid, or do they assume the source is evil, but use the word stupid for political cover, because they know “racist” is losing its sting in some quarters? (Tangentially, if he were alive, could Scalia get a job ad a lawprof?)

    There really are racists, and, to the extent that someone’s utterances on a topic are indistinguishable from those of a careful, smart racist, it is very easy, and has become de rigeuer, to demonize them. Obviously, allowing demons on campus would be bad, so everybody feels compelled to help Buffy out.

    How can room be made at the academic table for these “demons?” For the truly smart academics, it should be sufficient to point out that, if anything, banishment from the academy has backfired and conservatives are flourishing, perhaps moreso than if some of the brighter ones were engaged in serious academia. Take Sun Tzu’s timeless advice to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

    For the rest of the academics, perhaps we need a new meme and label. If you don’t like that someone can rationally come to different conclusions than you, maybe you’re a “think-ist.”

    1. SHG Post author

      But that’s the point. The Academy, left to its progressive devices went up to, then beyond, then far beyond, the point of being able to accommodate disagreement with its sacred cow beliefs. To accept rational, good faith differences in opinion would require retrenchment and admission that they’ve gone off the deep end, and that their truisms aren’t true.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Obviously, you’ll never get that direct admission from some, but I view it as a huge step in the right direction that the word “stupid” is being used rather than “racist.” For awhile, “racist” seemed an impregnable stronghold; falling back to “stupid” can only indicate that people are no longer buying into the theory of dog whistles everywhere.

        But, for those who are neither stupid or racist, the conclusion of “stupid” is much easier to prove false.

        1. Veseng

          Stupid is not so easy to prove false when the internal definition of stupid for these liberals is an idea I don’t emotionally connect with. After all, the left liberal project is controlled by feelings.

          1. Patrick Maupin

            Oh, you’ll never prove your case to the progressives. But when they call your ideas “stupid”, they are inviting disinterested third parties to evaluate them in a fairly non-emotional way. “Racist,” OTOH, connotes suspicion that your ideas are not honest, and that even if they make sense on the surface, you have a deeper, evil agenda.

  3. Richard Kopf


    You write, correctly, “It’s not that Randy and Josh don’t have a point, but the battle has already been lost.” I worry that the same battle is on the verge of being lost in the legal profession and the judiciary as well. When you cannot say shit even when it is in your mouth all you can do is compliment the chef.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      I see it with lawyers and younger judges as well. We were trying to be nice about it as the social justice train ran us down.

  4. GreenTriumph1

    Forget about conservatives. If you are middle-of-the-road politically there is no space for you at my university. A nuanced discussion about the extremes of Trump and Hillary and taking the best of both points of view is considered extreme. You will suddenly not be invited to collaborate on proposals and your papers will be suspect.

    1. SHG Post author

      One of the “jokes” of very recent vintage is that classic liberals are now conservatives. None of categories seem to work or make sense anymore, and from the progressive left, anybody who isn’t them is (and even some who are but haven’t kept abreast of the latest work choices) is an alt-right shitlord. As has been noted here with some regularity, they’ve burned out on calling people racist and sexist to the point where no one cares. At the same time, they’ve ruined the language for the rest of us by making it difficult to engage in any thoughtful discussion when it involves words that no longer have any fixed meaning.

      Damn, this are unpleasant times.

  5. Sacho

    These arguments and counter-arguments mirror the “gender gap issue” in STEM. Well, there is one difference – no one is branded sexist for claiming that conservatives are just worse people.

  6. B. McLeod

    Ultimately, the batshit craziness will run its course. In this age where men are women and women are men, but Rachel Dolezal still can’t be “black,” the PC arcana du jour takes too much effort to follow and is too inherently useless to the common citizen on the street. It has no value, and accordingly will have no permanence.

    1. SHG Post author

      The question is what structural damage is done in the meantime, whether by govt or the academic elites. The regular joe might not feel it directly, but it will ultimately touch everyone.

  7. Dwight Mann f/k/a "DM"

    Orthodoxy? Right-wing orthodoxy is fifty years of whining about liberal professors and liberal universities bludgeoning moderate and conservative students with liberal ideology – which has obviously been borne out by college-educated conservatives and moderates being endangered species in the USA.

    Claims about the content of Stephen Miller’s alleged call to the USA for the EDNY need evidence if they are to be believed but grand claims about supposed underrepresentation of conservatives and libertarians in law school academia not so much apparently. Some dude claimed it to be true and you cited that dude so it must be true.

    And what a sad picture is painted. Vigorous, red-blooded conservatives walk into some left-leaning law professor’s Con Law class and fourteen weeks later walk out of her final exam weak, pasty-faced and wearing Che Guevara t-shirts and pink pussy hats. Has the liberal conspiracy to infiltrate, indoctrinate and subvert the precious bodily fluids of conservative law school students succeeded? Maybe it’s the fluoride.

    If conservatives are so weak-willed and flaccid are a couple affirmative action conservative/libertarian professors on the faculty really going to save them? If only the new generation of precious teacup conservative students/lawyers/judges were as manly and strong-willed as you and the other whiny right-wing bloggers.

  8. Chi Huavara

    A leftist’s understanding of diversity is like a bookcase filled with books.

    Upon first examination, there are a wide variety of books on the bookcase. Some books are new, others are old. There are wide books and thin ones. There are tall and short books. There are hardbacks, and paperbacks. Some books have white paper, others have cream paper. Every color of the rainbow is represented in the covers, as is nearly every sort of material ranging from canvas to leather and everything in between. DIVERSITY!

    But upon closer examination, when one opens the books, one finds that each and every one of them is Bram Stoker’s Dracula word for word.

    So the leftist’s concept of diversity is shallow, base, and materialistic. In fact, it has much in comment with the high school child who sees his peers divided up in adolescent cliques such as jocks, burn outs, nerds, preppies, etc.

    True diversity, genuine diversity; diversity of thought, is strictly prohibited in the Collective, and will always be ferociously attacked.

  9. Antonin I. Pribetic

    “Take Sun Tzu’s timeless advice to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Sun Tzu never said this. Mario Puzo’s Godfather II quote is either his own or derived from Machiavelli, but, otherwise, good post.

    1. SHG Post author

      Nino! Good to hear from you. Except the Sun Tzu reference is in Patrick’s comment and not my post, so not clear about how his comment makes for “but, otherwise, good post.” Maybe you should have replied to Patrick rather than attributed his comment to me?

      1. Antonin Pribetic

        I either missed my morning coffee, or need better reading glasses, but I, otherwise, stand by my earlier comment. I remain thoroughly impressed with your writing. My numeracy skills for your snaptcha comment filter are only marginally obetter than my literacy skills.

    2. Patrick Maupin

      Sun-Tzu, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Coppola’s The Godfather… I get all those how-to self-help books and movies confused.

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