Dogma Without a Dog

There’s nothing more predatory than a dogma without a dog. The expression “I don’t have a dog in that fight” has been used to mean that one doesn’t have a stake in the outcome. That’s all well and good if it is indeed the case. It usually is not the case. Everyone has some dog in the fight. That is to say, everyone is operating according to some dogma.

Sometimes you don’t discover the dog in a person’s dogma until you get bit. Funny thing how dog-less dogmas still have teeth. The owners would do well to post a sign, “Beware of Dog.” They have instead posted, “We Don’t Believe in Dogs.”

All canine references aside, there is no worldview free way of life. Everyone has a way of seeing the world that drives their values. Some people know and show these values. Others bury them like a treasured bone (okay perhaps another dog reference).

Sir Roger Scruton published a piece “Universities Are Reviving the Notion of Heresy” with The Times of London yesterday that I was made aware of through a research group to which I belong. Scruton teaches philosophy at Buckingham University. He argues that universities do have an orthodoxy and to challenge it, to even question it, is an act of heresy.

“‘Non-discrimination’ is the orthodoxy of our day,” Scruton writes, “Yet this seeming open-mindedness is just as determined to silence the heretic as any established religion.” Scruton gives a few recent examples of those who discovered the hard way that non-discrimination is rather discriminating. It is a dog with a bite. It is a true dogma. To challenge it is heresy.

Scruton doesn’t argue against non-discrimination per se. He is arguing for honesty in advertising. If non-discrimination is discriminately applied, so be it. Just be clear about those against whom you are willing to discriminate. In other words, post your sign, “Beware of dog.”

Scruton warns that if a university takes this approach, as he infers many have, is to become “a centre of indoctrination without a doctrine.” It is to become a dogma that claims no dog. It is really a non-discrimination that discriminates.

But against whom does such an academy discriminate? According to Scruton, against anyone who questions the “prevailing orthodoxy.” So much for the academy as the “marketplace of ideas.” I guess that means academic freedom has gone to the dogs.