Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Ward Churchill affair continues unabated. A few days after warning about McCarthyism, University of Colorado president Elizabeth Hoffman resigned under the pressure. While sports scandals also contributed to her downfall, it is clear the attacks on Churchill were the primary force in running her out of office.

The investigation into Churchill is itself illegitimate because there is no allegation of wrongdoing committed by Churchill, just a desperate fishing expedition looking for any reason to fire him because of his controversial essay.

That’s why Colorado is planning to pay off Churchill to get rid of him (see http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~53~2751963,00.html). But bribery is no less an infringement of academic freedom. It says to the rest of the university that free speech is illegitimate, and that they would get rid of anyone. Tenure only makes them pay a little money, while anyone without tenure at Colorado (students, staff, non-tenured faculty) will have good reason to fear retribution for controversial speech.

A petition in defense of academic freedom is below.

Dear Friends of Academic Freedom:

Colorado legislators have recently taken aggressive steps to impose arbitrary restrictions on the free exchange of ideas. Indeed, Mark Hillman, the current Colorado Senate Minority Leader, has stated that, " It's time that the Legislature set clear...parameters of 'academic freedom'" (http://www.chieftain.com/editorial/1108883562/5).

If you believe it is important to maintain a broad definition of academic freedom at colleges and universities in Colorado--and all across the USA--then I encourage you to sign the petition at the following website: http://www.petitiononline.com/afreedom/

The future of academic freedom is being decided right now. If you believe in the value of unrestricted academic freedom, then I encourage you to sign the petition as a demonstration of your support for academic freedom and freedom of speech.

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