chapter  15
9 Pages

The Rise of Radical Egalitarianism and the Fall of Academic Standards

ByAaron Wildavsky

The American doctrine of freedom of expression is undergoing a profound reexamination on several fronts, legal scholars say, prompted by troubling and diverse questions like whether universities should punish students for making racist remarks and whether communities may ban sexually explicit rap music. Animal rights is one of the newest egalitarian movements, the idea being to make human pain and animal pain equivalent. Some environmentalism is unexceptional; everybody's concerned with clean air. Understanding radical egalitarianism enables people to explain the phenomenon of political correctness on college campuses. Because arguing against greater equality of condition subjects critics to charges of racism and sexism but also because arguing against equality in any form makes Americans uncomfortable. Yet exactly this, arguing against equality of condition as the most moral criterion of judgment, is what must be done if freedom of speech and inquiry are to be preserved in American colleges and universities.