Saturday, October 17, 2009

Academic Free Speech

An excellent essay by Peter Berkowitz on the topic. Here's his perceptive summary of the Duke case:
In 2006, even as the police had barely begun their investigation, Duke University President Richard Brodhead lent the prestige of his office to faculty members' prosecution and conviction in the court of public opinion of three members of the Duke lacrosse team falsely accused of gang raping an African-American exotic dancer. It turned out they were being pursued by a rogue prosecutor. To be sure, it was only a vocal minority at Duke who led the public rush to judgment. But the vast majority of the faculty stood idly by, never rising to defend the presumption of innocence and the requirements of fair process. Perhaps Duke faculty members did not realize or perhaps they did not care that these formal and fundamental protections against the abuse of power belong among the conditions essential to the lively exchange of ideas at the heart of liberal education.


Anonymous said...

Is Broadhead a Communist?

wayne fontes said...

Fire recently covered a shocking example of PC gone bad at East Georgia College.

Thibeault's ordeal started shortly after August 5, 2009 when, during a faculty training session regarding the college's sexual harassment policy, he presented a scenario regarding a different professor and asked, "what provision is there in the Sexual Harassment policy to protect the accused against complaints which are malicious or, in this case, ridiculous?" Vice President for Legal Affairs Mary Smith, who was conducting the session, replied that there was no such provision to protect the accused, so Thibeault responded that "the policy itself is flawed."

Two days later, Thibeault was summoned to EGC President John Bryant Black's office. According to Thibeault's written account of the meeting, which was sent to Black and which Black has not disputed, Thibeault met with Black and Smith. Black told Thibeault that he "was a divisive force in the college at a time when the college needed unity" and that Thibeault must resign by 11:30 a.m. or be fired and have his "long history of sexual harassment ... made public." This unsubstantiated allegation took Thibeault by surprise. Black added that Thibeault would be escorted off campus by Police Chief Drew Durden and that Black had notified the local police that he was prepared to have Thibeault arrested for trespassing if he returned to campus. At no point was Thibeault presented with the charges against him or given any chance to present a defense. Refusing to resign, Thibeault understood that he was fired.

Ward Churchill received plenty of support from fellow academics despite his obvious guilt and rather nasty personality. Thibeault went against the campus PC current. I doubt were going to see much support for him.

Anonymous said...

From the article:

"As the controversies at Yale, Duke and Harvard captured national attention, professors from other universities haven't had much to say in defense of liberty of thought and discussion either. This silence represents a collective failure of America's professors of colossal proportions. What could be a clearer sign of our professors' loss of understanding of the requirements of liberal education than their failure to defend liberty of thought and discussion where it touches them most directly?"

I can't believe that Berkowitz doesn't know about all of KC's righteous work on this issue. This is incredibly disappointing. It's almost like nobody pays attention to this blog.

Debrah said...

Berkowitz basically repeats what is already widely known by anyone who has followed the Lacrosse Hoax.

This case has many facets.

Each group with its identity grievance used it any way they could.

The case will always be viewed by people outside the realm of due process and reality through their own special prism.

In fact there were so many different groups and individuals fighting for a place at the table where they could get a piece of flesh that agendas produced an ideological collision..... what can only be described as the Far Left twisting itself into a pretzel in order to thwart due process.

Consider Victoria Peterson---Mike Nifong's most enthusiastic supporter---who was obnoxiously supporting the false accuser, is at the same time a very enthusiastic religious homophobe.

Consider Duke's Gang of 88 which is comprised of a number of gay faculty.

The academy's gay faculty from all over the country rushed to lend their support for Duke's Gang, for Nifong, and for the "poor black female victim".

Never a word of protest or derision for Peterson, however.

Was any displayed?

It also must be mentioned as a matter of reality that many of these gay faculty have a built-in hetero-dar and have a strong dislike for the macho hetero athlete.

This, of course, is shared by most of the Gang, gay or not.

Which is why the fabrication that Collin Finnerty had engaged in gay-bashing outside a Georgetown bar was relished as truth.

There's much written and uttered about homophobia, but very little about hetero-phobia.

Yes, there is such a condition.

A gay male with peach fuzz for chest hair goes cruising to avoid a "vagina with claws"....."all vaginas have claws!".


Has anyone told his mother this?

There's a collision between the way gays and straights view almost everything culturally.

If Crystal Mangum had been a white woman, would the gay academy have been so enthusiastic in their support?

Does anyone really believe they would have given a damn?

We know the Rouse case at Duke.

The Lacrosse Hoax was not only propped up by race/class/gender, but sexual orientation has always been a very key element.

If Victoria Peterson were a white woman, would the Gang of 88 and their mascots and janissaries have been so silent regarding her role as Durham's Empress of Homophobia?

There's a lot of hatred to go around.

Mostly from those who work relentlessly to re-engineer reality for themselves and play "victim".

Lastly, if Reade, Collin, and David had been gay and accused of a sex crime, does anyone believe Duke's faculty and administration would have said a word?

Except to quietly "dismiss" them from campus?

f1guyus said...

The Duke faculty did what most people do when confronted by PC wackiness. The looked the other way because the Lefties are so totally lacking in principle that to gain their ends they will say and do anything. The Duke Lacrossers are very fortunate to have resources and supportive families. Without those two things, and the small band of internet truth seekers, they'ed be in jail. And the members of the Duke faculty wouldn't have done a thing. Any of them. Even knowing the truth. Too dangerous to their careers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said ...
Is Broadhead a Communist?

10/17/09 9:18 PM

Better question: Can a Communist learn to spell "Brodhead"?

Art Deco said...

But the vast majority of the faculty stood idly by, never rising to defend the presumption of innocence and the requirements of fair process. Perhaps Duke faculty members did not realize or perhaps they did not care that these formal and fundamental protections against the abuse of power belong among the conditions essential to the lively exchange of ideas at the heart of liberal education.

To be disgusted by the behavior of Michael Nifong, Richard Brodhead, Robert Steele, sundry other apparatchiks at Duke University, and miscellaneous goons on the faculty of Trinity College, you have to have a sense of honor. That is something now atypical among the bourgeoisie in this country, the professoriate included (and perhaps especially).

halides1 said...


At the risk of being repetitive, let's not forget about Steven Baldwin. However, an untenured assistant professor, having seen how shabbily some of his colleagues treated Professor Baldwin, might have had second thoughts about speaking up, and rightfully so.


Anonymous said...

The underlying problem here is that many things have been totally and deliberately politicized.

Humanities departments and to a somewhat lesser extent, faculty as a whole are screened by political operatives for adherence to the narrative. Many who do the screening are ideologues who have been trained in how to exploit every weakness of human nature and democratic procedures to achieve the desired end – but who don’t necessarily know they are acting as political operatives. Government has the great power of the purse; at most institutions, it is by far the single largest source of funds. Having a few embeds at the NEA or NEH can go a long way toward getting rid of diversity of thought and opinion in a department. This has an incredibly powerful effect over time; it provides the intellectual shock troops for movement and facilitates the indoctrination of the young, who are far from sophisticated consumers of propaganda. Political appointees in one administration convert to civil service positions and stay on indefinitely. Increasingly, only the compromised or corrupt hold office and those who do not fit this category are intimidated into silence.

Race has been thoroughly politicized. There is an entire industry devoted to exploiting the propensity of humans to group themselves (and vote) by identity. This has been perhaps the worst thing to happen to race relations in our country in the last 50 years. The LAX fiasco gave lie to how this operates, exposing typically unseen alliances and illuminating true motives – it was never about the truth. Much can be learned by observing how far so many will go to align themselves with the party line.

Gender and especially orientation has been politicized. The best characteristics of human nature to willingly sacrifice for others, especially any disadvantaged, have been turned to cheap ploys for political power. Even environmentalism has been thoroughly politicized. Think about how many of the soft sciences have Democrat and Republican positions – economists, sociologists, etc. Do we really want to have Democrat and Republican physicians, scientists, mathematicians, technologists, or engineers? Do you want only those who pass some political litmus test to receive funding from the government? What about when only these get funding from any source because enough influence has accrued to those with intolerant views to stagnate the career of any who do not conform?

This is where we are headed, make no mistake.

Anonymous said...

COMMENT OF THE MONTH -- maybe the year!

The one by Anonymous at 6:31 PM.


No Justice, No Peace said...

"Save the Date!"

"The Fourth Annual Feminist Theory Workshop will be held March 18-20, 2010"

Confirmed speakers include Duke's own Robyn Weigman.

"The FTW is free of charge..."

Maybe the attendees can enroll in Duke's WST150, "Sex Work: Economics of Gender and Desire" - Kinohi Nishikawa. Why not, there may be a discussion about the concept of "free".

Was is Karl Marx, Anita Bryant, or another who said, "Why buy the cow, when the milk is free?"

westright said...

Thank you KC Johnson! I was riveted by your terrific reporting on the Duke travesty and spent a lot of time on this site + other DukeLAX sites during that period. I believe this site was instrumental in keeping these innocent students from being railroaded into the gulag! I wonder if the Academia overall is as rotten as this case appears to indicate and what may be done to change this situation. I almost chose to attand Duke 40 years ago and I'm happy I did not. If I was making that choice today I would attend the great Hillsdale College.