Posts

(Partial) Academic Freedom

I must say that Horowitz’s campaign for ‘academic freedom’ has suddenly become even more interesting to me than it already was after reading “Tenure Shrugged,” in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education [the full article requires subscription, but you can find an extensive … Read More

By / July 15, 2007

I must say that Horowitz’s campaign for ‘academic freedom’ has suddenly become even more interesting to me than it already was after reading “Tenure Shrugged,” in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education [the full article requires subscription, but you can find an extensive extract here]. In a section dedicated to the thought of Ayn Rand, the Chronicle tells the story of the author’s troubled legacy. I don’t know much about Rand, and those articles contributed to some ambivalent feelings about what I should think of her. But Glenn’s article tells an important story: how a classical historian with a decent record saw his tenure application rejected because he supported some of Ayn Rand’s views –amongst which, “her belief that democracies should respond to external attacks without much concern for civilian casualties.”

His tenure was finally granted to him on the awkward condition that he would resign upon receiving it. Whether or not you agree with his ideas, this seems like a classic case of freedom of speech denied (he also had a talk at George Mason U cancelled).

I am of course shocked, if little surprised, that the liberals crying out for freedom of speech in academia –those who supported Finkelstein’s tenure, for instance (latest fun on this one here)– have been silent on this one (maybe they weren’t: I guess they were those demanding that his speech be cancelled). A classic response was also to be expected from the AAUP: “Ms. Levy of the AAUP acknowledges that institutions with strong religious identities do have ‘some leeway’ in regard to academic appointments.” The same AAUP is adamantly opposed to Horowitz’s ‘academic bill of rights’, which is admittedly a defence of conservative speech in academia. This all points in the same direction: the AAUP supports freedom of speech, as long as this speech is not conservative.

Tagged with: