What is particularly telling in Ms. Korn’s article is that she identifies perhaps the one conspicuous conservative professor on the Harvard campus for censure (even as she quotes him quite severely out of context). When thinking of who should be silenced at Harvard, she can only think of one person, a single conservative octogenarian. Her call for “censorship” of conservative views on campus is at this point almost wholly unnecessary, since there are nearly no conservatives to be found at Harvard, or on most college campuses today (the University of Colorado has gone so far to create a Chair in Conservative Studies, since there was no other way to locate a conservative on that campus). Her call is actually much less controversial than it appears at first glance, since it effectively describes the de facto political and social condition on most college campuses today.
And so it ever was: religious universities for much of their history were not in the business of actively limiting the academic freedom of the professoriate, because then—as now—the faculty were largely in agreement about the proper object of that academic freedom. They differed, however, in the nature of those commitments. My former Georgetown colleague, Hans Noel, has written of his gratitude for not being forced by Georgetown to conform his teachings on abortion to the views of the Pope. Indeed, it does not. But in a different time, there was no need to even express such gratitude – the faculty who taught at Georgetown were there because of a commitment to the Catholic teachings, and conformed not because they had to, but because they embraced those teachings as true. So it is today—the faculty largely accept as true most liberal mantras, including the not-so-courageous view that the Pope is wrong on abortion, support for gay marriage, and so on. They are the fruits of Mill’s transformation—the defenders of “experiments in living.” Sandra Korn has not called for a fundamental change, but described how things are.