More Silliness at U of R or, the Landsburg Fracas Continued
"Isn’t there some sort of contract violation here? If the students in class are paying to learn economics, is there any recourse that they have? Is it any different than buying a movie ticket to see Rocky IV and ending up being shown Chariots of Fire?"That is the response of one of my colleagues, Michael Rizzo, to the fact that students showed up in the class of another colleague, Steve Landsburg, to protest the latter's idiotic attempt to channel Rush Limbaugh. First, let's be clear. Disrupting a class like this is inappropriate. Period. The students involved were wrong to do so. I will leave it to the Dean's to figure out how best to respond to the event.
But, second, what is wrong here has nothing to do with "market fundamentalist" nonsense about contract violations. This complaint would be laughable if it were not so sincerely asserted. Does Rizzo really want to compare his colleague's teaching to a couple of pretty crappy Hollywood films. He said it, folks, not me.
What is at issue is speech and context. Landsburg has a right to his ideas and a right to voice them. The protesting students do as well. But - to the best of my knowledge - Landsburg keeps his opinionating out of the classroom. He peddles his offensive views in other locales. The students ought to keep their protests out of the classroom too. That leaves open the matter of how they might more appropriately voice their dissent.
PS: I will add that a Professor in our Business School - Ron Schmidt - has taken it upon himself to send an open letter (via an official list-serve) to the entire School deriding the University President Joel Seligman for publicly calling Landsburg out for his Limbaugh-Channeling.