Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Academics and free speech.

Yesterday I made what might seem an outrageous suggestion, namely that “…academics are none too keen on free speech.” See 3rd para here.

Well what d’yer know? About 24 hours later, i.e. today, I put a comment after this article by Bill Mitchell (Australian economics prof) and he cuts out the final two sentences and a link  –  deliberately.

So were the two sentences outrageously sexist, racist or offensive? Nope. All they did basically was to refer to a paper jointly authored by the New Economics Foundation, Positive Money and Prof Richard Werner: their joint submission to the UK's Independent Commission on Banking.

I know very well why Bill cut those sentences: he doesn’t see eye to eye with Positive Money. Well fair enough: economists are always disagreeing with each other. That’s part of the attraction of the subject.

But that’s not much of an excuse for cutting bits out of comments after an article you’ve written. Assuming you allow comments after an article, the point of doing so is to invite critical comments as well as complimentary ones.

Anyway, if you’re interested in the missing couple of sentences and link, here they are (in green italics):

See the paper jointly authored by Positive Money, the New Economics Foundation and Prof Richard Werner (link below). So either Frank has made a blunder or Bill is quoting him out of context.


Having said some academics are not keen in free speech, obviously that’s only a tendency. Simon Wren-Lewis publishes comments that make offensive comments about SW-L. I admire that. Plus (and at a more subtle level) his motives are probably not entirely altruistic: insults normally make the insulter look stupid, not the insultee.

And finally please note I don’t practice what I preach. I often make insulting remarks. I’m probably cutting my nose to spite my face.

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