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As I understood it, in academic freedom the accent should be placed on academic rather than freedom - not a freedom in the general sense, but within a given framework; and rather than a kind of civil right, more like means to achieve a certain goal within a certain context.
It's a position of principle, and this phrase is also relevant of limits and safeguards:
necessary to the realization of that mission must include protection from the forces and influences that would subvert newness and independence by either anointing or demonizing avenues of inquiry in advance.
Those forces and influences would include trustees, parents, donors, legislatures and the general run of “public opinion,” and the device that provides the necessary protection is called academic freedom. (It would be better if it had a name less resonant with large significances, but I can’t think of one.)
And saying that ...
It does not, however, protect faculty members from the censure or discipline that might follow upon the judgment of their peers that professional standards have either been ignored or violated
is a matter of common sense, in that academic freedom should not be invokable as an excuse of or protection in case of professional failings, as exemplified further:
Holding faculty accountable to public opinion undermines academic freedom because it restricts teaching and research to what is already known or generally accepted.
Holding faculty accountable to professional norms exemplifies academic freedom because it highlights the narrow scope of that freedom, which does not include the right of faculty “to research and publish in any manner they personally see fit.”
Whereas freedom is a right and one stars with the assumption of it, academic freedom should rather be seen as a state, a way to avoid artificial blockages, a condition for exercising one's profession in the best way possible.
Philosophically too, one could argue that there should be only one kind of rights and liberties, the "human" ones, their declinations, and then conditions to exercise an activity to the fullest, but within a precise framework. I chose to see this as a bit of a plea against the over-use and abuse of the word "right" and "freedom".
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
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