While we applaud many of the sentiments expressed by Dennis Hayes, we cannot share the "anything goes" extremes of his stance. We should not forget that academic freedom can be used, and has been used, to grossly abuse certain social groups and unnecessarily damage individuals.
It is ironic that at a time when the "tolerance and respect"
agenda is being relentlessly promoted, tales of intimidation and stress in the workplace are becoming increasingly common. The extent to which this is the result of heightened sensitivities or is a reflection of growing strains and pressures in the sector obviously needs to be investigated.
We need to understand the phenomenon and to protect against these abuses while challenging the creeping advance of the "therapeutic university".
"Respect and tolerance" are manifested in the way we treat colleagues and students, rather than in the way lecturers are afraid to challenge sociopolitical orthodoxies.
Sally Baker and John Fazey
University of Wales, Bangor