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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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