Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Another step down the slippery slope, part IV

Running Blog Capitalist has moved on from actually addressing my points, and is now raving about how the government is stealing his TV and shouldn't be funding universities anyway. That's all very well, but as NZPols so nicely points out in the comments, the problem is that they do - and we therefore need to have some way of ensuring that they do it properly.

Needless to say, I think RBC's answer that they can do it however the hell they want, and that this is no infringement on freedom, is inadequate. I'm also not so sure about NZPol's suggestions that funding be assigned explicitly according to political viewpoint. While I agree that there's nothing inherently wrong with doing so (provided it is done in a fair and equitable manner), it is I think missing the point a bit. We publicly fund election advertising in NZ in this manner because politics is the point of the exercise. But I don't think producing political views is the point of universities. While academics have a traditional duty to be a "critic and conscience of society", it's not what the job is primarily about. I think its far better to allocate funding for teaching and research, tell people "go off and be a critic and conscience of society" and leave them to their own devices. The rest is (memetic) evolution in action...

(Oh, but I do find the idea of conservatives - usually vocal opponents of affirmative action - demanding such action so that their own views have academic respectability to be highly amusing...)