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"Academic Freedom"

Reader comment on item: Profs Who Hate America

Submitted by Cubby S. (United States), Nov 12, 2002 at 12:50

Dr. Pipes courageously reminds us of the reality of today's campus environment.

The cries of "academic freedom" began as Israel-bashing increased after the Palestinians launched their intifada in September 2000. Many of us did not focus on such behavior because we felt it did not concern us or our interests. However, the claims of such freedom continued after 9/11 to legitimate some faculty's comments that blamed the US for the attacks. As Americans we can no longer excuse these comments or behavior as merely innocent "anti-war" concerns. University faculty are charged with the tremendous responsibility of educating our young people and as such, should be held to a high standard of scrutiny.

It is bad enough that this argument is the basis for Middle East specialists who purport to present a balanced picture of the turmoil in that part of the world, but it is absolutely unconscionable for faculty who teach courses unrelated to such issues -- English, Math, Computer Science -- to rely on this freedom to launch their tirades about the United States and our war on Militant Islam from their positions of authority. Many of the comments made by such faculty bear a remarkable resemblance to sermons given by extremist clerics.

Speech is free in the United States, but there are rules for the time and the place of certain types of comments. As one may not yell "Fire!" as a "joke" in a crowded movie theater, a professor or teaching assistant may not use "fighting words" that are arguably capable of stimulating students to cross the line of permissible action. University faculty do not have the unfettered right to create a hostile learning environment in the classroom in the guise of "academic freedom."

And now that the door has been opened so that we all may learn about what is taught today, the outrage has increased. Whose freedoms are being trampled upon?

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