Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blogger at UAB Fired

There's a report at The Raw Story about the firing of Roger Shuler, an editor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham for 19 years. It appears that Shuler was fired for blogging about the Republican crusade against former Governor Don Siegelman.

On the same day that anonymous commenter asked if his employer knew about his blogging, Shuler received a formal reprimand for leaving his vacation request on his supervisor's chair rather than asking her, which Shuler says was normal procedure. Then the university conducted an audit on his computer, claiming that he conducted 3 hours a day of "non-work related" online activities. Shuler argues that much of this computer research, even though it related to his blog, was also relevant to his work about the university.

The key factor is this: if Shuler was getting his work done, it doesn't really matter how much time was deemed "non-work related." The fact that his computer time was monitored only after these apparent complaints relating to his blog were made only heightens any suspicion about it. To fire a long-time employee on such trivial grounds as where he left his vacation request letter is difficult to believe.

This is not just a case of the First Amendment; it's a case of academic freedom. No one who works at a university should ever face punishment or firing (or even scrutiny) because of their external political speech.

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