As an attorney who represents faculty in tenure appeals, disciplinary cases and litigation, I often wish that the university in question had stronger protections for faculty. In the face of the weakening of protections such as tenure and faculty mobility, faculty must develop alternate means of preserving a realm in which intellectual inquiry and critical thought can flourish and which ensures adequate working conditions.

Suppose that there are two competing views, both of similar plausibility, but both of which entail that the other view is not only wrong but utterly wickedly so. It is not difficult to find real-life approximations. Consider the clearest case: those who support abortion choice often tend to think that their opponents have the contemptible view that women should not have basic autonomy over their own body, while those who oppose abortion choice think that their opponents have the contemptible view that women should be allowed to kill their own children. 

Many support diversity of opinion on the grounds that it is educational. That means, though, that we want diversity of opinion where that is educational. It doesn’t follow from this that any and all opinions are worth hearing. The point of diversity of opinion is not just so we can have false opinions leavening our diet of dull facts and reasonable points of view.  The point of diversity is to help us learn what is right.  Some opinions don’t deserve a hearing in an educational institution.

Mill’s defense of free speech rests on the idea of a competition amongst arguments and ideas.  We should avoid censoring speech, Mill argues, because we might find that unpopular ideas are in fact true, and even if they are wrong, they may help us come up with better arguments for better ideas.  This is a compelling model of speech, both because it offers an interesting procedural account for how we might expand the stock of knowledge and arguments, and it provides an optimistic account of progress through opposition.