Academic freedom is no longer an option, according to a Stanford University professor of medicine who opposed Covid-19 lockdowns, and his life has become a “living horror.”
In an interview, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya discussed the criticism he has seen since he questioned the justification for Dr. Anthony Fauci’s US lockdown orders and masks in schools.
Bhattacharya is a tenured professor at the institution and co-wrote the Great Barrington Declaration, a declaration that criticized lockdowns in 2020. He received no assistance from his coworkers after the letter was made public.
According to Bhattacharya, “the fundamental tenet is that if you don’t have protection and academic freedom in the hard cases—when a faculty member has an idea that’s unpopular among some of the other faculty—powerful faculty, or even administration—if they don’t protect it in that case, then you don’t have academic freedom at all.”
The Stanford professor claimed that his letter resulted in death threats and that the outcome would have been different had the university been willing to have a debate on Covid-19 subjects.
Bhattacharya, who criticized the idea of “herd immunity” as damaging and ineffective, lamented the lack of discussion about opposing viewpoints at his school, which made him feel like an outsider.
When it counts, the university’s policy is to tolerate this kind of toxic work environment, he said. What if the university had promoted an open scientific discussion on this on campus? so that people could be aware that there were respectable opposing viewpoints?
“If Stanford really honestly were committed to academic freedom, they would have… worked to ensure that there were debates and discussions, seminars, where these views were discussed among professors,” he subsequently told the news source.
Bhattacharya claimed that if the school had allowed students to debate his letter, the “hostile environment” might have been mitigated.
At the Academic Freedom Conference earlier this month in Stanford, Bhattacharya said, “Your life becomes a living hell when you take a position that is at odds with the scientific clerisy.”
Last year, Bhattacharya participated in a roundtable discussion with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and praised the Republican for his more lenient stance on economic restraints.
Campus free speech disputes have been a sensitive subject because some colleges won’t accept opposing points of view.
During the pandemic, cancel culture on campuses increased significantly as some students sought to deplatform others who held differing views.
In September, Columbia University received a “abysmal” grade for its tolerance of opposing opinions on campus, placing it last in the country.
A bad grade was also given to the University of Pennsylvania, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Georgetown University, and Skidmore College by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) monitoring group.
With a score of 77.9 out of 100, the University of Chicago took the top spot for on-campus free expression. The top five was completed by Kansas State University, Purdue University, Mississippi State University, and Oklahoma State University.
Schools were evaluated based on their formal free speech policies, instances of deplatforming, the number of academics disciplined, and responses from 45,000 students nationally to a survey.
The grade for Columbia was merely 9.9 out of 100. It lost points for punishing seven academics, including two terminations, one of whom was a tenured faculty member, and for being the “most heinous offender.”