Friday, August 15, 2008

Free Speech RIP at RPI

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
took away email access from emeritus professor Donald Steiner because he dared to criticize the "pabulum" of the provost in an email, which was deemed to be "harassment."

It’s bad enough that RPI is suppressing free expression on its email system. It’s even worse when they invoke academic freedom to justify censorship, claiming that it means: “administrators, students, and faculty are protected from harassment for expressing their own ideas.”

Part of the problem here is a fundamental misunderstanding of harassment is. Harassment is a subset of discriminatory conduct that effectively prevents someone from doing their job. At a university, intellectual conduct and criticism of a university’s leadership is always fundamentally exempt from any accusations of harassment or discrimination. Indeed, by punishing this professor, RPI is the one engaging in harassment, because it is going beyond mere criticism and actively suppressing the rights of others.

What’s next? Will RPI start blocking websites from being seen on campus to prevent “harassment"?

No comments: