chapter  7
8 Pages

On Self-Suppression

ByJames S. Coleman

There are certain policies, certain public activities, that have the property that they stem from benevolent intentions expressed toward those less fortunate or in some way oppressed. These are policies designed to aid the poor, or blacks or Hispanics or women, and any result that would hinder one of these policies is subject to disapproval and attack. These are policies intended to display egalitarian intentions. For many academics they replace the patterns of conspicuous consumption that Thorstein Veblen attributed to the rich. They might be called policies of conspicuous benevolence. The conflict between this conspicuous benevolence and dispassionate research on the consequences of social policy lies in the difference between intentions and consequences. In a different context Sidney Hook wrote about this, recognizing the close connection between community and rights accompanied by obligation. As Sidney Hook wrote, community generates rights, rights generate obligation— and it is this obligation that leads, in the case under question, to the self-suppression of academic freedom.