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December 20, 2023

How Colleges Silence Eccentrics – Geoffrey Miller (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Imagine a young Isaac Newton time-traveling from 1670s England to teach Harvard undergrads in 2017. After the time-jump, Newton still has an obsessive, paranoid personality, with Asperger’s syndrome, a bad stutter, and unstable moods. But now he’s subject to Harvard’s speech codes that prohibit “disrespect for the dignity of others”; any violations will get him in trouble with Harvard’s Inquisition (the “Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion”). Newton wouldn’t last long as a public intellectual in modern America. Sooner or later, he would say offensive things that become moral-outrage clickbait. His eccentric, ornery awkwardness would lead to swift expulsion from the academy and would make him a pariah on social media.

On the upside, he’d drive traffic to HuffPost, BuzzFeed, and Jezebel, and people would have a fresh controversy to virtue-signal about on Facebook. On the downside, we wouldn’t have Newton’s laws of motion.

Worth considering the same phenomenon as applied to neurodivergents in the comic book industry.

H/t: Instapundit