Category Archives: academic freedom

April 26, 2014, 10:30 am

I Didn’t Defame You — I Just Used You: On Hashtag Activism

twitter-bird-1Earlier this week, I retweeted a link to a media report about a personnel issue at another campus. A friend of mine subsequently wrote to say that I ought to have investigated the report further, as what had occurred was far more complex.

Let me say: personnel matters usually are complex, which is why I rarely write about contested tenure cases at Tenured Radical. I receive many requests to do so, usually from angry students distraught at the loss of a beloved professor. I refuse all of them. I know from personal experience that whatever the truth of the matter, most of the relevant documents are not public. When actual discrimination occurs, it is very rare that you have the documentation to write a plausible and fair story unless the case goes to court. In other words, even if I were inclined to write about people in trouble, I would not do so since I do not have access to the fact…

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April 14, 2014, 9:57 am

No Speech, No Preach: VCC System Rethinks First Amendment Rights

funnyprotestsignsstreet_people_protesting-s1024x683-41186-580In response to a lawsuit filed by a student at Thomas Nelson Community College, the Virginia Community College system has suspended its restrictive campus speech policies until May 2. The Associated Press reports that Christian Parks was barred from preaching in any location but a “free speech zone:” attorneys on both sides have asked for the suspension until new policies and procedures can be worked out.

Demonstrating that Democrats can be just as repellant as Republicans when it comes to misinterpreting the Constitution, Virginia Governor Terry McAwful McAuliffe signed legislation on April 4 that essentially criminalizes student demonstrations by allowing the public university system to establish restrictive “free speech zones.” These obscure areas, far from administrative buildings, mimic municipal restrictions that confine protesting citizens to small areas far from the event or…

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March 26, 2014, 11:55 am

Should Academic Online Behavior Go to Court?

DaffyDuck02

Imagine if Daffy Duck had email, Twitter and Facebook.

Here’s an interesting case that has been percolating along for some time and should be of interest to all of us in the academic blogosphere. Raphael Haim Gold, 54, who is the son of Norman Golb, as New York Times reporter John Leland puts it, “a controversial Dead Sea Scrolls scholar,” has been successfully prosecuted for impersonating and harassing other scholars who have found fault with his father’s scholarship. The conviction is now being heard on appeal.

For reasons that remain somewhat mysterious, Golb Junior defamed his father’s intellectual detractors for three years via various forms of Sock Puppetry and Internet impersonation.  As Leland writes:

Mr. Golb’s online campaign was chiefly directed at his father’s most bitter rival, Lawrence H….

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December 26, 2013, 2:23 pm

Click (Dis)Like: Why Social Media Use Is Now A Professional Issue

computerIn my continuing study of Internet rage, I stumbled across this commentary on the Justine Sacco affair. Sacco, you may recall, was the communications director for InterActiveCorp, who tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” before getting on a flight to South Africa.

Upon arrival (the trip takes around 12 hours, an eternity on the web), Sacco found, among other things, that she had lost her job. An initially puzzled discussion about whether she had been hacked resolved itself into a collective belief that the offensive tweet had precedents, and must be genuine. While Sacco had been in the air, as Nick Bilton wrote on December 24 2013, “the Internet turned into a voracious and vengeful mob….people threatened to rape, shoot, kill and torture her. The mob found her Facebook and Instagram accounts and began threatening the same perils on…

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December 18, 2013, 10:53 am

Blogging Across the Water: A Response to David Hirsh About the ASA Resolution

harvey-milk-us-postage-stampDear David,

Thank you for your civil and knowledgeable open letter of December 17, and the links you have shared. I hope you like the stamp I chose for my response: Harvey is one of my heroes, both for his belief that democracy can come to all of us and for his belief in moral persuasion.

You are right: I am new to the global debates over the BDS boycott, having been engaged in reading and conversation for only a year. And yet people have to make decisions at political moments, and for a variety of reasons I was faced with one this fall when I chose to come out against the ASA boycott resolution and then came to believe I needed to re-think and change my position. Part of what makes it difficult to engage this debate is that the two sides tend to use the same rhetorical strategies: the extremists yell and name call, the more moderate voices suggest that you don’t know what you are…

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November 28, 2013, 11:46 am

Hands Across the Web: Thanksgiving Shout-Outs

looney-tunes-thanksgiving

After some posts Tenured Radical feels like the main course

Back in 2007, I handed out turkeys on Thanksgiving to the biggest dumb-a$$es in education I had encountered that year. Ah, but I was so much younger then; I’m older than that now. As I woke up this morning, I had this conversation with myself:

Tenured Radical: (slams a cup of coffee down on the bedside table) Yo, dude. Time for us to give out some of those good ol’ TR Thanksgiving Turkeys! You remember, that round-up of people who have made fools of themselves in some way? What better year than this one?

Claire Potter: (not yet fully awake) Are you sure? After everything that has happened in the past couple weeks, do we have to be vengeful? It’s been kind of unpleasant around here and I think we need to change the mood. I mean, we’ve ended up on…

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November 23, 2013, 12:29 pm

Srsly? Notes on Social Media, #2013ASA

barack-obama-laughingYou may have received something on Facebook today, as well as on Twitter, floating the accusation that my opposition to the academic boycott of Israel being considered by the National Council of #2013ASA is a sham. This opposition is, the messages claims, only an excuse for me to continue an unhealthy and longstanding obsession with a prominent member of the American Studies Association.

This person, it is alleged, was once my friend, but broke off that friendship for unnamed reasons (because I am a psychotic lesbian? Because I have bad politics? Because I am wardrobe challenged? We are taking suggestions in the comments section.) The tweet mentions that this person has blocked me on every electronic media possible, inferring that I have been an e-stalker in the past, and have taken up this deviant behavior again, this time strategizing my cyber-terror through time-consuming…

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November 22, 2013, 10:51 am

One Side Fits All: An Interesting Development @ #2013ASA

Take a look at the following screen shot, and tell me what you see.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 9.46.01 AM

The first tweet, at the bottom, reports on what sounds like an outstanding presentation by Duke University’s Fred Moten. Moten was arguing in support of an intellectual boycott of Israel being considered by the National Council of the American Studies Association on Sunday. If I am understanding his, and the tweeter’s, argument correctly, it is an established position of PACBI: that Palestinians have no academic freedom, and therefore the issue is null. The corollary to this is that freedom of speech among US academics, and concerns that an institutional boycott of Israel will constrain the academic freedom of those employed by Israeli institutions (unless they are explicitly aligned with BDS) is a privileged, bourgeois concern that whitewashes the reality of the ongoing Occupation.

I would like to point out,…

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November 21, 2013, 10:35 am

Blogging for Free Speech and Academic Freedom: The 1000th Post

acad1

Illustration by Ernest Hopf.

Given that my reply to one commenter had become post-length (look at the comments section of the prior post) I decided to make a few small edits and elevate it to the main page of the blog. I do so with a message to those opposing the resolution for an academic boycott of Israel at #2013ASA: stop throwing stones, and focus. The principles of free speech and academic freedom are, I believe, positive and compelling reaons to defeat an American Studies Association (ASA) boycott of Israel based on the principles laid out by PACBI. Questioning the motives and ethical stances of fellow academics affiliated with BDS is not. I have been particularly concerned by unwarranted charges of antisemitism and racism, on this blog, in the academic #twittersphere.

I would also like to say…

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November 20, 2013, 9:42 am

Letter to the ASA Opposing the Proposed Academic Boycott of Israel

182377754_400x400_FrontTo: John Stephens, Executive Director of the American Studies Association

Subject: Opposition to proposed resolution before the National Council of the ASA for an academic boycott of Israel.

Dear John,

Please count me as an ASA member who opposes the proposed sanctions of Israel’s academic institutions and, by logical extension, the scholars associated with those institutions, that has been put before the Council by the Academic and Community Activism Caucus. Scholars of any nation ought to be free to travel, publish and collaborate across borders: I consider this to be a fundamental human right, and so does the United Nations. We in the American Studies Association cannot defend some of those human rights and disregard others. (more…)