Category Archives: academic freedom

September 7, 2013, 12:17 pm

Department of Academic Freedom: Asking Students To Other Themselves

doublemint-270x300

Why not have your students imitate gum salesgirls in public?

In a victory for academic freedom, Columbia State Community College psychology professor has been cleared of charges that an assignment on homosexuality harassed and discriminated against students of faith (HT).

The assignment, as I understand it, asked students to wear a gay pride ribbon out in public as they walked about Columbia, Tennessee. They were then to record their thoughts and observations for course credit. Although they could choose an alternative assignment, a few students felt that having it on the syllabus at all violated their religious beliefs. Although no student filed a grievance, the Alliance Defending Freedom, run by former conservative anti-pornography activist Alan Sears, filed a complaint against the professor anyway.

Which…

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September 1, 2013, 10:40 am

Rewrite Women’s History? I Think Not (And Other Fun From Around The Web)

king-riggs-tennis

Take your hand off me before I help myself to another ball, d00d.

You know it’s Labor Day Weekend in New York when you see little packs of kids nodding off on the 7 train, sunburned and exhausted from a day chasing balls at the National Tennis Center.

While we are talking about tennis — what’s this mansplainin’ horse puckey from Bobby Riggs about throwing The Battle of the Sexes in 1973 to pay off his gambling debts? He would rather be remembered as a cheater, a criminal accessory and a thief than as a man who lost to a legendary female champion like Billie Jean King?

Really?

This is a man whose narcissism and a$$hattery seem only to be exceeded by that of the sports journalism establishment who rushed to press with a story that seems to have no second source. King says “she was there” and the match was…

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April 14, 2013, 1:34 pm

Can We Have A Conversation About Political Conversation?

no-talkingIt appears that decent, ethical people associated with Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) are speaking out about the nastiness, personal attacks and other silencing tactics that currently characterize the debate over the Israeli Occupation. My trusty RSS feed reports that Columbia law prof Katherine Franke and San Francisco attorney and mediation specialist Frederick Hertz are asking pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli partisans in the United States to share queer intellectual and political space in a more productive way. You can read a report about the call to dialogue at Electronic Intifada.

Clearly, I have some skin in this game. Readers of Tenured Radical will remember an ugly week, not too long ago, in which my expression of doubt about the ethics and efficacy of a cultural boycott against Israel (a view which is not unique on the left, and does not represent an endorsement…

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March 16, 2013, 1:07 pm

The Custom of the Country: Investigating Email @Harvard.Edu

harvard-logo-jpg-180One of the downsides to being Harvard University is that everything you do is publicized as if no one else has ever done it.

Take the undergraduate cheating scandal, that led to the investigation of the cheating scandal, that led to a lot of students being asked to either take a leave to think about their sins or get the hell out of Dodge for good. Students (and proffies!) cheat at lots of institutions, but when it happens at Harvard it seems to be particularly news-worthy.

Why is this? Well, here’s a parallel example. When Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof, daughter of Irish activist rocker Sir Bob “I Don’t Like Mondays” Geldof, was picked up for shoplifting cosmetics last summer (and not for the first time either) it was commented on extensively; the same crimes committed every day by Joe Blow from Kokomo command very little attention. We expect Joe to shoplift: he’s a witless…

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February 14, 2013, 1:36 pm

Why Tenured “Radical”? And Other Political Confessions

It appeared that my ability to join the collective hinged on my agreement with all the criticisms of my past political thinking and work, and not just a willingness to consider them….The criticism indicated that I was inferior to other members of the collective, and I wanted the opportunity to prove that I had a substantial history of work and ideas, and that I should be considered an equal. So I agreed with the criticisms in general, and said I would rethink things in light of the criticism. I thought to myself, I could always change my mind.

Cathy Wilkerson, Flying Too Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as  a Weatherman (2010)

A central theme in several autobiographies of former radical antiwar activists is the role that criticism sessions played in persuading people to adopt a new world view, one that ran counter to attitudes they might previously have valued as members of …

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February 9, 2013, 12:38 pm

Protest, Engage and Discuss: Brooklyn College, the Occupation and Academic Freedom

Bloomberg to City Council critics: Brooklyn is not Pyongyang!  Photo credit.

As of this writing, despite saber-rattling of various kinds by donors and politicians, the Brooklyn College event featuring speakers from Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) seems to have gone off without a hitch. The Israeli state still exists; the Palestinian people do not yet have a state of their own; and the Mayor of New York has affirmed the principle of free speech in our public university system. Read about it here.

I realize that it is conventional to begin a post like this one be declaring that one is not an anti-semite, that one is a supporter of Israel — or not an anti-semite and not a supporter of Israel, and hence a supporter of Palestinian freedom (whatever that means at this moment in history.) I cannot tell you…

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December 29, 2012, 11:46 am

Guns Do Kill People, You Nitwits: The Bizarro News Of The Day

Despite the obvious fact that guns have to be activated by people in order to kill other people, it is also true that without a gun, a person cannot kill another person in the most efficient way possible — particularly when that person is running away or cowering in the corner.

Therefore, counter to the assertions of the fun with guns crowd and their trade organization, the National Rifle Association, guns do kill people. More guns kill more people. To believe otherwise you would have to be capable of believing outlandish things like — well, that Mitt Romney also won the election in November; or that the Clintons’ murdered one of their old friends; or that Oliver North is a persecuted hero…..

Oh.

But why does anyone in the national media take anything the NRA or the gun industry says…

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November 26, 2012, 9:28 pm

Tenured Radical Celebrates Cyber Monday…..

…by linking to an interview done with up-and-coming blogger and journalist Zach Schonfeld about student protest and chalking the sidewalks at Zenith University.

Enjoy.

March 9, 2012, 9:58 pm

Campus Report: When Students Protest Speakers On Human Rights Grounds…

Maybe students at Cambridge and Zenith should have had a Tea Party instead?

…They usually get squashed, whether the protests are violent or non-violent.

British university students, who revived their reputation for radicalism last spring after unprecedented budget cuts and tuition increases, took it to the streets again today to make a point about sexual violence and women’s rights. The Cambridge University’s Women’s Campaign staged a large demonstration outside the Cambridge Union during a speech given by former head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was accused last year of raping a hotel chambermaid in New York.  Perhaps because of elaborate security precautions, the protest turned violent:  two students were arrested in scuffles with the police, and two other…

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August 6, 2011, 11:41 am

Education Policy This Week: Edu-Traitors, Preventing Child Abuse Through Censorship, And Combat Soldiers In Class

Today we are taking note of smart people saying smart things that open a can of worms or two about education policy and its consequences.

At HASTAC, Duke’s Cathy Davidson confesses that she is an edu-traitor. “I argue that, right now, we are deforming the entire enterprise of education,” Davidson writes, “from preschool onward, by insisting it be measured implicitly by the standard of ‘will this help you get into college’? The result is the devaluation of myriad important ways of learning that are not, strictly speaking, ‘college material.’”

To put Davidson’s concept in practical terms, even before budgets are cut, aspects of the school day that used to be a valued part of the educational mission — art, music, recess, clubs, athletics — become “extras.” In politician-speak, these activities are “fat” or “pork,” which can and should be cut:  those words are also a…

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