Racism best tackled in the open 2

May 30, 2003

It is disgraceful that the AUT is even considering the demand by some lecturers to be excused from teaching students who "express racist or fascist views", or who belong to "far-right political groups". Would the AUT ever consider a demand that students who harbour far leftwing views be barred? I suspect not: tolerance from the left typically means the tolerance of all views identical to one's own.

Lecturers have the right not to tolerate disruptive students but have a duty to teach students of all viewpoints and indeed to encourage the voicing of all viewpoints. The classroom is the ideal place for contentious positions to be debated, even if, realistically, minds are rarely swayed by force of argument.

Last year, someone at my university urged colleagues to pressure the employer of Geoffrey Sampson to fire him because this lecturer found Sampson's views offensive.

Lecturers who want to hear only what pleases them should wear headphones.

Robert A. Segal
Lancaster University

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