Campus Speech Codes Target the Neurodiverse

There is a fantastic piece by Geoffrey Miller on The Neurodiversity Case for Free Speech in which he makes the argument that Isaac Newton wouldn’t have been welcome on today’s university campuses.

Ever since the Middle Ages, universities have nurtured people with unusual brains and minds. Historically, academia was a haven for neurodiversity of all sorts. Eccentrics have been hanging out in Cambridge since 1209 and in Harvard since 1636. For centuries, these eccentricity-havens have been our time-traveling bridges from the ancient history of Western civilization to the far future of science, technology, and moral progress. Now thousands of our havens are under threat, and that’s sad and wrong, and we need to fix it.

Now universities actively run off such people. They’ll revise your evaluation until they get the low score they’re looking for and even claim you weren’t “properly hired.” Anything to make sure everyone is the same, non-threatening in any way, and completely institutionalized.

The issue is that this then actively discriminates against anyone on the autism spectrum who has a difficult time regulating certain behaviors because we have a weak executive function. And many of the rules seem to us to be arbitrary. And we tend to make the mistake of thinking that if we would like you to say something to us in a certain way (because we prefer not to be ambiguous or have people be vague and ambiguous when they speak to us), then you would prefer it if we were straightforward as well. Often we just need to be told that what we’re doing or saying is strange, and we’ll do our best to try to stop doing it. But if you interpret everything we do through the lens of neurotypical behavior and understanding of the world, you’re never going to understand us, and everything will seem wrong.


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