The close-minded free-thinkers

Besides safe sex, there’s nothing the University loves more than critical-thinking and open-mindedness. That is, of course, if you’re ready to do it on their terms.For all the informative posters, specialty classes and social-justice events, there is little more than token representation of opposite opinions.A cliché complaint, but it’s true.At UVM and other colleges, “free thought” has been incorrectly defined as the willingness to embrace unorthodox, radical positions. For many professors and students activists, thinking critically is simply the process by which you discover that the world is systemically flawed.Apparently, your ability to “think freely” is inversely proportional to your trust in the status quo.Once you view America as a racist, sexist and imperialist nation, then you will have achieved intellectual zen.If only it were that simple. But thinking differently is not synonymous with thinking critically.Outside of America’s universities, there are legitimate debates with rational arguments for moderate and right-wing ideas. There are countless talented conservative intellectuals and writers with legitimate viewpoints.You wouldn’t know that at UVM. There is a commitment to maintaining the illusion that liberalism and intelligence are two sides of the same coin, leaving students mistaking indoctrination for enlightenment.But real critical thinking involves humility and the knowledge that it’s hard to be certain about much.Real open-mindedness means having the reciprocal of all arguments – like having Ben Stein speak.Many will claim that presenting conservative viewpoints is nothing but intellectual affirmative action for positions that couldn’t cut it.These people are wrong and they reveal their own subjugation to the vicious cycle of one-sidedness. Free-market economists, for example, have assembled tons of evidence based on empirical studies. Amongst real economists it is the predominant attitude. And, at the very least, a fair representation of this topic seems appropriate, since most social justice activism is a response to it.The negligence might be acceptable if the activists had a fundamental grasp of the subject, but most of them think Adam Smith is that guy that sold them weed that time, so a refresher seems due.Third person accounts of conservative ideas shouldn’t cut it. For every excerpt from Naomi Klein there should be one from Milton Friedman. Most radicals would hate to see Marxism depicted by free-marketers, why allow the reverse?It’s also an invaluable opportunity for radicals to respond directly to right-wing viewpoints instead of token, second-hand caricatures.That’s not to say that all positions don’t deserve representation. Real free thought involves being exposed to the whole spectrum of ideas, including the radical ones.But one side should never be presented as the inevitable fruit of free and critical thought. Uncertainty is the real reward of free thought.