Where, then, did the idea come from that academics should have a special dispensation from the conformist pressures that affect every other occupation? Originally, in fact, the idea of academic freedom had nothing to do with extraneous personal traits such as political views. Rather, the premise of academic freedom was that academics should not be constrained regarding the ideas that they express in their work. An academic, once accredited (i.e., tenured), should, according to the principle of academic freedom, be able to conduct and disseminate his or her research irrespective of what views it may implicitly or even explicitly contain.
Of course, the point of academic freedom was never to protect academics from the conformism of their colleagues. On the contrary, academic freedom has always gone hand in hand with "peer review"--the idea that a scholar's work is to be judged solely by his or her colleagues. Instead, academic freedom was intended to protect scholars whose work had gained the acclaim of their peers from external pressures--particularly governmental censorship.
Over time, academics in America have gradually intermingled the idea of academic freedom with a particularly American notion of "free speech", under which everyone is in some sense free to say (or to loudly proclaim the right to say) absolutely anything to anyone at any time, for any reason, without fear of retribution. The result: a reinterpretation of academic freedom as the untrammeled right of academics to speak uninhibitedly about anything outside of their area of scholarship, at any time.
I can see nothing whatsoever to commend the application of this expansive notion of free speech to the academic world. As LTEC attests, it certainly doesn't protect academics with unpopular views from ostracism. Rather, it allows academics to neglect the scholarship they were hired to pursue, and instead to exploit the platform of their position by pontificating at length to anyone who will listen--and to students who often have no choice but to listen--on subjects about which they are manifestly ignorant. This abuse of the professor's lectern has in fact become so common that even those who rail against it--such as LTEC--only think to complain about its political lopsidedness, rather than its overall pernicious effect on the serious pursuit of scholarship. Perhaps if scholars were obliged to conduct their non-scholarly ranting, political or otherwise, on their own time, outside their workplace, and without invoking their irrelevant credentials--anonymously, on a blog, perhaps--the quality and volume of scholarship conducted at universities would improve somewhat.
Often, when someone focuses on a specific minor injustice, to the exclusion of large classes of related ones, it's because the intended solution is not to remedy the injustice, but to counterbalance it--that is, to favor the allegedly wronged person or group. Thus, those who focus on racial discrimination in academic admissions neglect the obvious solution of hiding, where possible, information about the race or sex of applicants, and instead advocate the granting of special preferences to the groups allegedly discriminated against. Similarly, the obvious solution to politically motivated descrimination in university teaching would be to crack down on gratuitous expression of political views in academic settings. But LTEC has a different solution in mind:
Then again, I don't believe that LTEC really wants "all kinds of different opinions being expressed all the time" at universities. Claims of evidence for paranormal phenomena? Scientologist dogma? Sightings of Elvis? There's a reason, after all, why LTEC has proposed an "anti-extreme-left" representative on every hiring committee, and not an "anti-Elvis-is-dead" representative on every hiring committee. And the reason isn't hard to figure out.