Volume 94, Issue 60

Wednesday, January 10, 2001


Editorial Board 2000-2001

Being PC has no place at UWO

Editorial Cartoon

Being PC has no place at UWO

Today the campus of King's College will play host to Richard Zeller, a former professor at Bowling Green Sate University who will deliver a lecture on what he sees as the dangers of political correctness to vigorous intellectual debate. Zeller has been invited to speak by Heinz Klatt, a King's College psychology professor, who last year began teaching a controversial course on the same topic.

Ah, political correctness. Necessary remedy for a bigoted culture, or stifling straitjacket? That question might certainly spark a vigorous intellectual debate, but the more relevant question is whether we want a professor at our university suggesting to students that, for example, affirmative action is unfair, or feminists are out of control. Furthermore, do we want such a professor inviting his like-minded friends to give lectures?

While the opinions of a Professor Klatt may seem inflammatory and downright offensive to some, he should not be prevented from expressing them, even in his role as instructor in a classroom setting.

For starters, in a university community, a dedication to freedom of speech should always prevail over the wish to block out statements we find abhorrent. The idea is not an old one, but it is an important one, especially in an academic milieu.

Another reason to support Klatt's teaching is that it forces those who take his class, and find his arguments insensitive, to really think about what their own positions are and articulate exactly why they think the "dogmas" he attacks are actually legitimate ideals.

What's more, having a controversial instructor like Klatt on the payroll lets Western project an image of academic openness and devotion to unfettered debate, both hallmarks of a vital university community. Knowing that Western isn't afraid to let its faculty members discuss controversial and provocative issues in the classroom may even help attract prospective students seeking a challenging university program.

Letting professors interrogate sensitive topics in class also demonstrates a basic respect for the intelligence and maturity of university students. Students at this university are adults and as such, shouldn't have to be protected by an administration from hearing things they may find offensive. Instead, they should be learning how to talk back to those who offend them and convincingly refute the disagreeable idea. And, of course, no student is forced to take Klatt's class or attend Zeller's lecture.

Love him or hate him, Richard Zeller is an asset to this academic community, as is every other student and faculty member who ventures to express his or her ideas.

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