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Academic Freedom Panel:
Inside Higher Ed has a story about an excellent panel on academic freedom at the AALS annual law prof conference. The panel was moderated by Robert Post, and featured Stanley Fish, Elena Kagan, Geoffrey Stone, and William Van Alstyne.
neurodoc:
I wonder if Kagan was alluding to the Ted Paulson business at Harvard. ("Another of Kagan's case studies involved an undergraduate English department that had invited and then uninvited a speaker after learning of a comment made that some perceived as anti-Semitic.") Stanley Fish, once of Duke, thinks "that once the invitation is made, the deal is done"? Why does he think that, and more importantly, why should the rest of us think that? "Academic freedom" requires it, and "academic freedom" must always be the paramount consideration? How far does Fish, and those who think like him take this, to the point that Harvard was obliged to give Paulson the faculty position he was expecting. (One of Larry Summers "sins" was to put an end to that outrageous business and speak out against antisemitism in academe, even at Harvard.) Once Hamilton had invited Ward Churchill to speak there, they had to go through with it and host him, even though a little bit of due diligence by a professor had turned up some of the bad stuff (and it turns out there was plenty more)? Should an antisemitic record be less disquieting than a racist one, the latter disqualifying, the former not?

Professor Stone thinks "David Horowitz's tack of approaching state legislators in an effort to regulate public institution hiring practices 'abhorrent,' adding that colleges must take up the matter internally." I think Horowitz's approach stupid rather than 'abhorrent' (there is the truly "abhorrent" where academe is concerned, but this ain't it). But when, if ever, are colleges (and law schools) really going to "take up the matter internally"? I wonder if they are constitutionally capable of it absent a great deal more pressure from outside. (Todd Zywicki, recently elected Dartmouth trustee, are you listening?)

There is a great deal in this article that should be debated. (I have some thoughts about why Garcetti v. Ceballos is troubling. It's not because First Amendment rights were abridged, it's because the SCt thought it acceptable that an assistant DA in La trying to bring to public attention serious misconduct in the law enforcement process be fired for speaking out.)
1.6.2007 5:13pm
neurodoc:
OK, I just finished reading to the end of the Inside Education piece. And the final 3 paragraphs ("But is academic freedom worth protecting? Only when one applies a limited definition, Fish argued. Worthy of protection: a professor's ability to introduce material and equip students with analytical skills..."Ask this question," he said. "Is it an account or an advocacy of an agenda?") Those do give a different impression of Fish's thinking. Still I wonder why it should be "that once the invitation is made, the deal is done," and whether Fish would maintain that in the case of Paulson, whose lyric poetry case Israelis, especially those who emigrated from the US, as the new Nazis, or of Churchill, or of others who get the invitation from someone(s) within the school's walls.

Many champions of "academic freedom" are far more vocal in defense of it on behalf of some than on behalf of others. Where are they to object to the all to familiar "free speech for me, but not for thee" on campuses?
1.6.2007 5:24pm
HLSbertarian (mail):

Many champions of "academic freedom" are far more vocal in defense of it on behalf of some than on behalf of others. Where are they to object to the all to familiar "free speech for me, but not for thee" on campuses?


They work at FIRE.
1.7.2007 1:14am