There's No Such Thing as Free Speech, by Stanley Fish
Stanley Fish, a professor at Duke University, is a famous Milton scholar who has also written a great deal on the theory of literary criticism and the philosophy of law. His recent and more general notoriety, however, rests on his participation in a series of public debates with Dinesh D’Souza, the author of Illiberal Education1 on the status of “political correctness” on our campuses. Fish’s latest collection of essays, There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, contains several essays written for those occasions, as well as articles on legal theory, pragmatist philosophy, and current trends in literary studies.
Fish observes here that it was an odd move of “central casting” to have him posed against D’Souza as a defender of the leftist agenda and a partisan of the effort to redefine the academic curriculum in order to accommodate the goals of “multiculturalism” and “diversity.” He is, after all, the wrong person to lend moral support to a movement that aims to undermine his own decades-long scholarly commitment to 17th-century poets, surely the most moribund of the dead white males who make up the received literary “canon” under attack by the multiculturalists. Moreover, unlike those guilt-ridden academics who try to atone for their assumed complicity in the oppression of minorities, women, and gays by adding a sop or two to the reading list, Fish says he will shamelessly go on reading and teaching Milton and his ilk as if nothing had happened.
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