Category Archives: Free speech

August 19, 2008, 9:21 am

Simon Singh versus… the chiropractors?

British science writer Simon Singh has a special place of respect here at Casting Out Nines for his outstanding  crypto survey The Code Book and for personally helping my upper-level topics students get their hands on a copy back in 2003. One usually associates him with high-quality intellectual discourse on science and its impact on society. So I thought I was not fully awake this morning when I read this in his email newsletter:

As some of you may have heard, I am being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association. I cannot say much at the moment, but I will return to the subject in due course. In the meantime, thanks for the emails of support and the various blogs backing my position. I have not had time to reply – as you can imagine, I am fairly busy at the moment – but the support is much appreciated.

Huh? Well, evidently, Singh wrote an editorial in The Guardian…

Read More

August 5, 2008, 11:43 am

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, R.I.P.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize for literature, died yesterday at the age of 89.

I have for a long time considered Solzhenitsyn to be one of my intellectual heroes. His novels moved me deeply, particularly One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, which at a slim 200 pages packs a more devastating  punch than most novels three times its length and has a place on my list of 10 Books that Changed My Life. His novel The First Circle is another favorite for its brutal clarity about life as an intellectual political prisoner in Stalinist Russia. All of his novels lead me into a deep appreciation of the freedoms which I too often take for granted today.

He combined his powerful writing with an authentic faith and moral courage which enabled him not only to stand up to the soul-crushing effects of political imprisonment but also to look Western…

Read More

April 24, 2008, 5:53 am

Friedman gets a pie in the face

Seems like it’s been ages since we’ve heard of crazed left-wing university students throwing pies at speakers, so I’m almost nostalgic about this:

Brown University is condemning the actions of two people — at least one of whom is a student — who threw a pie-like substance Tuesday night at Thomas Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times who was speaking on the campus. Friedman took a few minutes to clean himself up, but continued his talk. Michael Chapman, vice president for public affairs and university relations, issued a statement in which he said: “Freedom of speech is prized on a university campus. While Brown students are encouraged to express their opinions on any subject and in a variety of forums, the university does not tolerate such assaults against a speaker or disrupting the right of others to hear a speaker’s perspectives.” The statement said that one of those …

Read More

November 2, 2007, 8:00 am

Retrospective: Truth and consequences for Ward Churchill (7.25.2007)

Editorial: Today we have articles #10 and #11 in the weeklong retrospective series here at CO9s. The twelfth and final one will come tomorrow, and then it’ll be back to regular posting.

This article was written this past summer, just after Ward Churchill had been fired. Even before his firing, I really believed that the main issue in the Churchill saga had gotten lost. People were merely choosing sides — the lefties taking Churchill’s side (see the Peter Kerstein reference in the main article) and the righties reflexively going the other way. But I didn’t believe, nor do I believe now, that this was the right way to see it all. The main point was that the man lied — about himself, about his research, in the research itself that he purportedly — and falsely — claimed he did. That he did so is on the public record and beyond dispute. That some would whitewash the fact by making him a…

Read More

July 25, 2007, 9:00 am

Truth and consequences for Ward Churchill

Ward Churchill has been fired:

More than two and a half years after Ward Churchill’s writings on 9/11 set off a furor, and more than a year after a faculty panel at the University of Colorado at Boulder found him guilty of repeated, intentional academic misconduct, the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted 8-1 Tuesday evening to fire him.The vote followed a special, all-day meeting of the board, in which it heard in private from Churchill, a faculty panel and from Hank Brown, president of the University of Colorado System, who in May recommended dismissing Churchill from his tenured post. The regents emerged from their private deliberations at around 5:30 p.m. Colorado time and voted to fire Churchill, but they did not discuss their views and they quickly adjourned. A small group of Churchill supporters in the audience shouted “bullshit” as the board vote was announced.While…

Read More

July 17, 2007, 5:04 am

Tuesday morning linkage

Morning, everyone. Here are some quickies for your early Tuesday enjoyment:

George Will comments in the WaPo about Antioch College. Here’s a sample:

During the campus convulsions of the late 1960s, when rebellion against any authority was considered obedience to every virtue, the film “To Die in Madrid,” a documentary about the Spanish Civil War, was shown at a small liberal arts college famous for, and vain about, its dedication to all things progressive. When the film’s narrator intoned, “The rebels advanced on Madrid,” the students, who adored rebels and were innocent of information, cheered. Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, had been so busy turning undergraduates into vessels of liberalism and apostles of social improvement that it had not found time for the tiresome task of teaching them tedious facts, such as that the rebels in Spain were Franco’s fascists.

It gets better…

Read More

July 16, 2007, 6:06 am

Impressions of “The Shadow University”

Last night I finished reading The Shadow University by Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate. This was a book that I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to at first — it clocks in at 400 pages of microscopic font with a high frequency of legalese — but in the end, it will probably rank as one of the most influential books I’ve read.

The book’s influence can already be seen here at CO9s in some of the recent posts (here and here for starters) about academic bias and free speech, as well as the new categories on Academic Freedom and Free Speech. And I’ll probably have more to say about the book and these related areas as well in the future. But for now, here are some lessons I pulled from the book.

1. I come away from The Shadow University with a deep appreciation for the US Constitution and the ingenious, and hard-edged, ways in which freedom is guaranteed to US citizens. The genius of the …

Read More

July 13, 2007, 6:03 am

Bias and thought policing on all sides

You might come away from yesterday’s postings (here and here) thinking that real bias in academia only occurs from Left to Right. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sadly, the impulse to censor and police the thoughts of professors and students is equal-opportunity.

Consider this appalling case at Ashland University reported at The FIRE in which John Lewis, a historian specializing in Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy, was hired as a professor at Ashland and promptly received a $100,000 grant from the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship for teaching and writing on objectivism. After gladly accepting the money, affirming its support for Lewis’ research, and giving him six hours’ release time per semester in which to do it, the university then denied Lewis tenure because, as stated in the tenure denial letter:

…concern was expressed at all levels of the process about…

Read More

July 3, 2007, 6:11 am

A reminder for prospective RA’s

Don’t make absurd videos in which you kidnap rubber ducks. Five RA’s at Long Island University tried this and found themselves on the wrong side of the administration’s idea of racial sensitivity:

The five RAs created a satirical short film this past February in which they dressed as Islamist extremists and took a rubber duck “hostage.” Dressed in black and armed with a Swiss Army knife, the RAs read a list of “demands” that included a request for an iPod.

The finished two-minute clip was uploaded to YouTube and that’s when the trouble started, because LIU administrators didn’t think the video was funny. In fact, they deemed it “racially insensitive” and promptly fired the RAs, resulting in the loss of tuition assistance and meal-plan benefits.

Whole thing here. The students promptly sued the university in February, and now LIU has settled out of court, realizing that…

Read More