Liberal colleges 

I don't find it at all unusual that the faculty of most universities is populated with "Liberals and Democrats." The faculty at most universities hold an advanced degree and that implies they have the ability to examine issues and facts and draw defendable conclusions, often with new insights into old questions. Human progress has almost always been driven by people who looked at the same information with an open mind and discovered new ways to do and think about things.

Conservatives, on the other hand, already know everything worth knowing and see little reason to go beyond their comfortable current knowledge base, preferring instead to stifle new inquiries into current questions. If new questions do come to the fore, they spend their time changing the question to fit the answers that they already have.

Political correctness is a scourge to both camps, though, denying the conservative the ability to openly and freely express things which he fervently believes, which may well be true, and denying the liberal the ability to openly discuss observed facts and seek realistic answers.

We look to our schools for new information. Tenure was instituted to protect the teacher who stepped outside of the comfort zone and wanted to seek new ideas and also to protect the  teacher who wanted to defend the old ideas.  Without an open and free discussion, it may be very hard to find the truth. Let's open up the flood gates of honest discussion and seek real answers to the many real problems that face us as a nation and a species.

Herb Hawn

Little Rock

Much as I was confused by the image on the cover of the Aug. 19 Arkansas Times ("liberals" equated with bombs?), Doug Smith's article about university professors was interesting. I never understood where this notion of "liberal" or "leftist" or whatever-you-want-to-call-it bias in the university comes from. And who cares about bias if it is argued with evidence? After all, the university is supposed to nurture critical thought and open debate, isn't it?

Labels like "liberal," "conservative," and "leftist" are imprecise thrown about carelessly. Professional rabble-rousers like David Horowitz make 18th-century conservatives like Edmund Burke and Alexander Hamilton turn in their graves.

Unlike Robert Maranto, who appears to be honest about his work, Horowitz distracts attention from the real issue, which is the growth of corporate influence in academia. Maranto works in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Imagine, an entire academic department that just happens to be financed by Walton money!

Dr. Maranto is balanced to be sure. Years ago, he called for deploying the Marines in urban public schools. He has also published with the American Enterprise Institute (based on the name alone, the bias of this "think tank" is obvious).

Or take the renowned Henry Kissinger. He wrote books at Harvard in the 1950s about the virtues of nuclear war. As an academic, Dr. Kissinger deserved to be protected by the principle of academic freedom. But this is unfortunately not the case for some left-wing academics. In 2007, for instance, political scientist Norman Finklestein denied tenure at De Pauw University and Ward Churchill was fired from his professorship of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado. There were questions about their "research methods" but neither has advocated nuclear war.

Whoever stifles debate and a free press — even one that tolerates cartoons of balding professors holding bombs — undermines democracy and betrays future generations. For only in open debate where "the chips fall where they may" can the truth win out. But that does not always suit powerful special interests.

Anthony Newkirk

North Little Rock

'Gasland' a winner

My husband and I just viewed "Gasland" at the Clinton School of Public Service, and we were impressed at the high quality of research on this subject. It's a documentary by a Pennsylvania man offered a lease to allow drilling a gas well on his property, using the fracking technology that proves to be ruinous. I know his roommate, an Arkie. He is not making this up. He comes to this state, and speaks to those suffering from nearby gas wells. Arkansas water is polluted; farmland lost. Compliments to the Times for its latest feature on the topic — "Drilled & Screwed." There is a federal bill to erase exemptions Vice President Dick Cheney got for the industry, and to put this industry and its practices under the standards and regulations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. It's the FRAC bill — SB 1215 & HR 2766. Please write in support to your congressman and senators.

Kathy Wells

Little Rock

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