Before we get started, let me state unequivocably that I am a college football fan.
Yet I think there are some good points to be made about priorities in academia. Are colleges supposed to prepare the next generation to lead in business, research, government, and the arts, or is our first priority the tossing around of an inflated hunk of leather?
Far too often it seems that universities place greater emphasis on football and basketball programs than they do on academics.
And Lifson is dead wrong on one important point: many of Cal's academic programs are cutting edge, and in no way seen as the "laughingstock" of academia. Just because the football program has never been a high priority doesn't mean that Cal is somehow an intellectual backwater. In a recent US News ranking, the Cal system had 6 of the top 15 spots among public universities, and Cal-Berkeley was the number one public university in the U.S.
Are there some high-profile radicals in Berkeley ? Sure. Are students somehow "harmed" by being exposed to controversial or unpopular lecturers? Doubtful.
If nothing more, listening to someone with radical politics can make you a better debater, and yesterday's radicals might become tomorrow's icons.
Take Tom Paine, for example, who was once reviled as a dangerous radical.