Tuesday, August 21, 2007

York University Bookstore - Center of Dogma

York University is located in Toronto, Canada. For more read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York_University

I was recently at the York University bookstore with the intention of spending a $50 gift voucher that I had just received from the Faculty of Education. While the gift in itself is very welcome I was disappointed to see once again how inferior the York Bookstore selection is with respect to world issues. In the politics section I estimated that there must have been over 200 books. I counted exactly 5 with a conservative focus, 30-35 with a liberal bend and a whopping 170+ that can best be described as Leftist. In fact there were twice as many books by Noam Chomsky alone (regurgitating the same old themes) than by all the conservative authors put together.

Regardless of what your position is in politics this reflects a very distinct bias. Conservative writers are every bit as prolific as their leftist counterparts – a scan of political books on the internet will show this truism but somehow within this enclave of academia there was no reflection of this reality. Now one could argue that books by Chomsky are better sellers and that the bookstore is just acting to maximize profits (profits off Chomsky the irony kills me) but if profit was the real motive then surely the bestsellers of Mark Steyn, David Horowitz, Thomas Sowell, Bat Ye’or, John Stossel. John O’Sullivan, Andrew Sullivan would be on sale as well. This of course is not the case. Where is the balance?

As an educator I have always believed in the principle of objective thinking (as much as it is indeed possible) and a criticality of reasoning. If the same University bookstore had been biased in favour of conservative authors I would be equally concerned. Not that I believe that one should dictate to a store what they should carry on a book by book level but University bookstores should have a responsibility to represent a broader spectrum of thought than what was evident on the shelves here at York. If this were an ‘alternative’ bookstore on Queen Street it wouldn’t bother me in the least but I find it sickening that in the university milieu of York where diversity of thought is supposed to be encouraged such an apparent lack of it is so openly on display in such an intellectual setting
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