30.5.06

HE'S NO RICHARD T. ELY. Urbana English professor Dennis Baron sees ominous portents in the Ward Churchill investigation.
I don’t know enough about the situation to support or challenge the panel’s unanimous findings, or to suggest what the university should do about them, but one aspect of the committee’s 125-page report signals a chilling warning to academics: If you want to stay below the radar, keep your politics and your scholarship to yourself.
Not quite. Professor Baron identifies slip-ups on Colorado's part well before the "little Eichmanns" kerfuffle.
Prior to that, the university had ignored complaints about Churchill’s scholarship, and it had already concluded that his 9/11 essay was protected political speech. But the committee, which includes two law professors, justified proceeding with the politically-motivated investigation into allegations of research misconduct with this legal analogy: “A motorist who is stopped and ticketed for speeding because the police officer was offended by the contents of her bumper sticker ... is still guilty of speeding, even if the officer’s motive for punishing the speeder was the offense taken to the speeder’s exercise of her right to free speech.”
Let me get this straight. If Dean Curly and Provost Moe and President Larry say nothing about a dishonest faculty member when all that dishonest faculty member is doing is raising Colorado's retention rates in the Department of Cooling Out the Mark, they have forfeited all right to say anything about it when the evidence comes to the attention of individuals less willing to look the other way at the identity politics fraud being committed in prominent universities? Methinks the professor protesteth excessively.
The committee went on to suggest that Churchill might have been fine if he had just kept his head down: “Public figures who choose to speak out on controversial matters of public concern naturally attract more controversy and attention to their background and work than scholars quietly writing about more esoteric matters that are not the subject of political debate.”
The quote leaves out an obvious extension. Albert Einstein might have used his stature as a physicist to make many a silly statement about economics, and Noam Chomsky is not afraid to speak his mind, but his linguistic work is solid, and Arthur Butz leaves his theories about the Final Solution out of his engineering classes. In all three cases, university administrators have correctly noted that Citizen Einstein or Citizen Chomsky or Citizen Butz are free to hold whatever private opinions they wish.

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