chapter  7
Academic Freedom in the 1990s (1996)
Pages 10

This chapter considers today's distinctive characteristic bent in the issue of academic freedom in the 1990s. That distinctive bent is self-censorship by the faculty on the key issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation in order to avoid controversy. Self-censorship, a distinctive issue in academic freedom, is, of course, not a new issue. In previous ages of academic zealotry, when the major issue was religious unorthodoxy, support of socialism, criticism of foreign policy, or support of Communism, there was plenty of self-censorship by faculty and perhaps by students. But in these previous ages, self-censorship was resorted to in order to avoid serious consequences, such as being dismissed by the trustees, expelled by the administration, or attracting the attention of state legislative and congressional investigating committees, with the ultimate threat of possible imprisonment on grounds of perjury and the like. These serious consequences were worth avoiding.