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There is the fact that law, history and politics faculties have always been the most delicate part of the system, and there is no way to stop an ideologue from passing his message, just as free speech cannot be regulated, no matter how many laws are made, but either allowed, or forbidden outright.
This is also why these faculties have often served as political tools.

On the other hand, cases of abuse of regulation of the academic freedom should not lead to the idea that it must be absolute. Academic freedom is not in the same category as free speech. If regulations are abused (by neocons or whoever) then they should be improved, and the community should act against these abuses. A more practical solution than conferring absolute academic freedom on grounds that otherwise it might be abused.

(let alone that absolute freedom, just like absolute constraint, is in itself abusive)

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Sun Nov 30th, 2008 at 09:39:19 AM EST
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The necessary tools already exist to contain abuses of academic freedom, in that exercise of it must be relevant to the topic at hand. If a professor teaching a class on geology spends an hour ranting about how global warming is a hoax or about how the war in Iraq is based on lies, he gets in trouble because he's not teaching the topic that the course description says he would.

If someone tries to publish an ideological screed in an academic journal, it gets rejected on the grounds that it doesn't contain new information and/or isn't topical to the journal.

These discussions of academic freedom in the popular press are not about such restrictions - because those restrictions already exist. They are about allowing non-faculty and non-students (i.e. politicians, pundits, belief tanks, etc.) to judge when the restrictions are violated and impose sanctions over the head of the appropriate academic authorities.

Peer review isn't perfect and doesn't always work as advertised, but that's hardly a reason to let the chattering classes (which I note tend to contain far more ideologues than most university departments) do an end-run around it.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 30th, 2008 at 10:56:13 AM EST
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I don't understand this. If your field is political or legal, I should certainly hope that you are passing on your message. Otherwise what would be the point?
by Upstate NY on Mon Dec 1st, 2008 at 08:44:32 AM EST
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