04/03/04 — School makes news pages as well as sports pages

View Archive

School makes news pages as well as sports pages

Duke University has gained national attention in ways other than assembling an excellent basketball team. Duke has once again made the Final Four in the field of scholastic silliness.

The Collegiate Network gave Duke fourth place in this year’s Campus Outrage Awards.

Duke’s high standing was based on a remark by the chairman of its Philosophy Department, Dr. Robert Brandon. Brandon, justifying the 17-1 Democrat-Republican ratio among Duke professors, said, in essence, that conservatives were not smart enough to teach at Duke.

“We have to hire the best, smartest people available,” he said, adding: “If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire.”

Conservatives and liberals could debate endlessly whether John Stuart Mill, a 19th-century English philosopher, would be a Democrat or a Republican if he were alive today. There is plenty in his writings to support either argument. But one thing is certain: He would not be as arrogant an elitist as Robert Brandon appears to be.

The Collegiate Network, which gave national publicity to Brandon’s attitude, is a group of conservative college journalists whose mission is to expose absurdities caused by excessive political correctness at colleges. It assigns the Campus Outrage Awards every year.

Those who assessed the colleges for this year’s prizes couldn’t have know how prophetic they were. Just as the Outrage Awards were being announced, Duke heightened its mischief by demanding that the Triangle YMCA grant to same-sex couples the same privileges that it allows ordinary families.

Otherwise, Duke officials said, the university will end its relationship with the Y, which allows its employees to have membership in the Y at a reduced group rate. The Y is, of course, resisting the ultimatum so far — though losing the support of Duke and its employees would be a crippling blow.

Last year, the Collegiate Network voted Duke the grand champion of campus outrage because Laura Whitehorn had been invited to lecture on the campus after she finished 14 years in prison for bombing the U.S. Capitol in 1983. “It’s easy to do a bombing,” Ms. Whitehorn advised the students.

Talk about taking liberalism to extremes.

This brings to mind another quote by John Stuart Mill, one that should be brought to Professor Brandon’s attention: “Bad institutions are supported by false philosophy.”

Published in Editorials on April 3, 2004 10:52 PM