I’m sick and tired of being an employee of a university. I’ve come into some serious money and am considering setting up an institution of higher learning of my own. It will be called Walter Block University (WBU) and will have several, if I say so myself, unique characteristics.
First, not only will there be no tuition or housing payments required, but I will offer a scholarship to all students of $100,000 per year. I will pay not double, but triple, the salaries paid in the average university to all faculty and staff. The facilities will be on par with these generous offerings. The cafeteria will serve free food, of an equally high quality, to all members of WBU.
I will, however, freely engage in my own brand of cancel culture. Any professor who criticizes any of my publications or speeches will be summarily fired, tenure or no tenure. Any student who has the effrontery to in any way denigrate me will be kicked out of WBU, forthwith. If any outside speaker critical of me appears on campus, it will be a requirement that the entire student body, and all professors, interfere with his speech by yelling at him until he cannot be heard. I don’t require that such a person be physically abused, as has occurred at several existing universities, but, as I say, I am very wealthy, and generous to people who support me.
Not only will I engage in cancel culture, I will also demand required speech. Oh, don’t worry, I will not compel anyone to use any specific pronouns. I will not demand that they spell “Black” with a capital letter, and “white” in lowercase basis. Rather, I will demand that each class begin not with a Pledge of Allegiance to the United States, but, rather, with one to me, Walter Block. The professor and students must repeat this tripartite pledge both at the beginning and end of each class session: “Walter Block is Great. Walter Block is Great. Walter Block is Great.” I will surveil all such gatherings to ensure compliance with this “modest proposal” of mine. Every WBU professor, in all scholarly publications, must state this basic truth three times in the first footnote.
You say, gentle reader, that under these conditions I will have great difficulty in getting WBU accredited? Do not worry. Do not concern yourself with this minor problem. As I said, I have come into quite a bit of money, and I plan to spread it around lavishly.
Will I have broken any law given what I have said above? Certainly not, at least not any law that a civilized society would enact. As eminent libertarian theorist Robert Nozick would say, all arrangements at WBU consist of “capitalist acts between consenting adults” (by the way, I will not admit any student who is not at least 21 years of age). No fraud will have been committed. All students, staff, and faculty would be made fully aware of these unique characteristics of WBU before signing on.
I hope I have established that there is nothing per se wrong with denial of free speech, denigrating academic freedom, cancel culture, compulsory speech, shouting down “hateful” speech. Why, then, is it so obnoxious when Jordan Peterson is compelled by school administrators to use certain pronouns and forbidden to use others; when Charles Murray and Stuart Kyle Duncan were not allowed to speak at university events; when Amy Wax is bullied on campus for engaging in legal analysis (these cases are, unfortunately, the teeniest, tiniest, tip of the iceberg)?
It is all a matter of private property rights and freely agreed-upon contracts. Yes, this sort of thing should be allowed, encouraged, and required at Walter Block University. All members have agreed upon such goings-on. But it is despicable, and a matter of fraud and contract violation, when this takes place at our actual universities. The people who made these impositions simply had no right to implement any such policies in the first place.
It is important to pinpoint exactly why the wokesters are so evil. It is not because of their suppression of free speech and their mandated compulsory speech. I could do that at WBU and it would be fine. It is because they have in effect stolen rights to do these things through fraud.