There is a big difference between political belief in the abstract and legal and career consequences Many professors support the notion of rules that prohibit the creation of a hostile environment on campus. But when humorless bureaucrats interpret such policies to punish speech made in a quiet chat with a colleague or a pedagogical point in the classroom the reality sets in.
A new generation of university bureaucrats has been empowered by post-modern thought. Post modernism challenges the idea that there is “truth”. Power relationships and subjective feelings are given more credence than a person’s actual intent.
A professor teaches the work of a 20th century Nobel prize winning author which contains the N word and quotes the work in class to have a conversation on the changing meaning of the word. Some students demand he be fired.
A business professor wants to give practical advice to students how to handle work social events. Use the wrong analogy or comment, and he risks getting charged with a violation of policy
Freedom of thought and the development of knowledge require an inner sense that one will not be punished for thoughts or speech made in good faith.
Professors are starting to fear that because someone could possibly, even if unreasonably, accuse them of misconduct, then they should hold their tongue. Fear has entered the academy.
Read the article, “Academics Are Really, Really Worried About Their Freedom”, by John McWhorter, September 1, 2020.