by Ikonoclast | 11:37 pm, April 2, 2009 | Comments Off
Well, the verdict is in – and although I’m not surprised, I am disappointed that a jury of theoretically rational adults (yes, 19 is an adult) found that he was “fired over protected free speech.” Although most of the initial commentary has focused on the $1 award for damages – “a slap in the face” for Churchill and an indication that the jury believed him to be a fatuous windbag, fraud, and cheat – I’m concerned that WC and his lawyer will press on for his reinstatement at the University of Colorado, thus dragging the saga (along with the university, the state, the general public, and our tax dollars) through the mud for many more months.
The grandstanding of David Lane Superlitigator notwithstanding, this is NOT an issue of 1st Amendment rights. It’s not even, all bloviating by domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and domestic terrorist wannabe Ward Churchill aside, an issue of academic freedom:
“There is a natural tendency to imagine academic freedom as a personal right on the model of a First Amendment right. First Amendment rights are constitutional rights, which means they apply against the state, and only against the state.” …
“Academic freedom fundamentally differs from First Amendment rights. First, it is not a constitutional right… the protections of academic freedom are not best conceived as personal rights, but as freedoms and responsibility accorded to the corporate body of the faculty. As an individual faculty member, academic freedom does not protect me from the evaluation and judgment of my peers about such fundamental matters as hiring, advancement, tenure, or the receipt of grants or subsidies.” (emphasis added – from a treatise on Academic Freedom at UC)
Note that “the root idea of academic freedom… is the notion that the professoriate is a profession that in the conduct of its professional obligations is answerable primarily to itself. … Academic freedom is thus a claim to professional self-regulation. In almost every other profession this claim has been in recent years severely undermined.” (from the treatise Academic Freedom: Its History and Evolution…)
So basically, “academic freedom” is another way of saying that we, the people, despite the fact that we fund academics through our tax dollars in a nice comfortable lifestyle freed of the pressures of actually having to work for a living, are just too ignorant and lacking in knowledge to judge those in the wonderful world of academia. Instead we, the professoriate, are professionals (don’t try this at home) – we know best, and can regulate our own.
Of course, the shocking thing is that in the case of Ward Churchill, although they had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the process, the academics did just that. The professoriate DID regulate itself, and found Ward Churchill to be severely deficient in the only criteria they acknowledged as valid – scholarship. Exhaustive investigations by “three committees investigated the professor over a two-year period and found he had engaged in fabrication, falsification and plagiarism” before he was finally fired.
So what does all this have to do with racism? For that, it’s necessary to review a bit of history – as in, actual events which occurred in the past (not the invented “texts” or parables of the WC version of the term).
Who was Edward Ross? “Edward Alsworth Ross (1866 – 1951) was a progressive American sociologist and eugenicist.”
“Ross believed that America faced degeneration through immigration, intermarriage, and the refusal of the state to impose sweeping eugenic reforms. … Stanford’s conservative grand dame and benefactor, Jane Lathrop Stanford, however, disliked not only his politics and his activism but also his increasingly loud and crude denunciations of Chinese ‘coolies.’ She forced the president of the school … to fire Ross.” (from the superb book Liberal Fascism, by Jonah Goldberg, pp260-261).
So Ward Churchill – great champion of the oppressed – is attempting to hide behind an institution (“academic freedom” and tenure) established in this country in reaction to the firing of a “progressive” eugenicist and racist for advocating the ejection of Chinese coolies to save American from racial degeneration. The institution of academic freedom – a sort of professorial “Father knows best” conclave – is a ‘claim to professional self-regulation.’ In this case, the profession self-regulated Ward Churchill out of a job – for failing to live up to professional standards. No one’s rights – First Amendment, academic freedom, or otherwise – were violated by the termination. Churchill committed academic misconduct - got caught – and lost his job as a result. (Guess the chickens came home to roost, eh WC?) ‘Nuff said.
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