Free expression and rational discourse?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by HazelGod, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. HazelGod

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  2. dong20

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    You're questioning what; that you still believe in them, that they're inalienable or that US citizens are free, or all of the above?
     
  3. HazelGod

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    All of the above.

    Though it isn't a government intrusion into free speech, I find that a public culture willing to tolerate or engage in the same stifling behavior is just as oppressive.
     
  4. Principessa

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    I think the adjunct professor in question was guilty of poor judgement and perhaps basic insensitivity to the high emotion level of his students.

    While the school may have been right to engage students in a discussion of the shooting as some form of therapy/sounding board. They should have given the instructors directions or at the very least parameters.

    IMHO: Two days later, was too soon for an open discussion of a university massacre. Especially since it was led by an apparent idiot. I seriously doubt he meant any harm to anyone.

     
  5. JustAsking

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    I think he got fired because he is an asshole. It sounds like he was not encouraging debate, but instead he was pulling an "Imus". By that I mean he was using his influential position as a soapbox for his own nasty and inappropriate biases towards some class of people. The "shooting demo", was probably not the thing that got him fired.

    On the other hand, I do think that the job of a university and a university professor is to be very very provocative even at the expense of decency. So I am not sure if I agree with the firing. I am inclined to think that to this professor's "Imus", the university was pulling a "CBS", which is to save public face by firing someone for actions that you would ordinarily overlook if it weren't for the bad timing.

    For the record, though, I do agree with the Imus firing. Although Imus' job was also to be provocative, his mission was not to expand minds, but to capitalize on making the minds of his listeners smaller.
     
  6. dong20

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    Well, there are several different 'spins' evident on this incident. but in principle I agree with the above, interesting that a message from the principal includes (as referred to in the CNN article):

    "We invite you to reach out to talk about this tragedy. Members of the Campus Ministry, Counseling and Human Resources staffs are available to offer support."

    However, discuss this in a way we don't like and you're fired; this must be some form of support I was previously unaware of.

    The ethos of the college includes:

    "...We challenge ourselves, faculty and students alike, to be rigorous in our pursuit of the truth as we explore and question, analyze and research....."

    It would appear that perhaps some truths are more.....acceptable than others, or maybe it's merely that the method of searching was considered excessively....rigorous:

    "...the paper (Boston Herald) said Winset, an adjunct professor of financial accounting, was trying to prove that if there were more guns in society, someone might have been able to stop the massacre...."

    I think his idea, while perhaps quasi logical is fundementally at odds with the evidence of the growing US 'Gun Culture'; more guns don't reduce gun crime, they normalise it.

    Of course if, as I suspect the dismissal was unjust one should probably expect little better from an establishment which is based on essentially religious principals.

    Well, I wasn't there at either incident so I'm just pissing in the wind really. :rolleyes:
     
  7. Principessa

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    Some of you may find this video clip of the professor in question interesting, I did.


    The Fan
     
  8. HazelGod

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    EDIT:
    Had to hunt it down in that funny interface, but finally saw it. Interesting perspective piece, although I would have appreciated seeing more interviews with students who were in the class. One alone is hardly representative of a group. As for the prof himself, I got no sense of malice from him.

    He merely made a statistical comparison of the death tolls from various causes, telling people to "keep it in perspective." Heaven forbid people use their minds in a rational fashion...:rolleyes:

    This actually reminds me of a huge fight I got into with my father a couple years back over the Patriot Act. He kept harping that emotional refrain about 3000 people being killed, as if that somehow magically justified the constitutional abuse, and I finally retorted with, "So fucking what? Ten times that number of people are killed every year in traffic incidents. You don't see anyone in a hurry to ban automobiles or impose greater restrictions on driver's licenses, do you?"

    I very much see the prof's viewpoint in this...people tend to be far too reactionary without bothering to think things through.
     
  9. Gillette

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    It's in there. I found it.

    I don't think he should have been fired over it but I do think it was too soon for him to be breaking the event down into cool statistics and reenactments.
     
  10. YourAvgGuy

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    I am going to take a stab at this - which consequently may cause some internal conflict with how some view the processes of Academic Freedom. However, being in the academy I think it is imperative that individuals fully comprehend how the process is suppose to work.

    Academic Freedom is basically the right to teach as one see's fit, but not necessarily the right to teach evil, perse. The term engenders teaching related to speech rights of members of the academy. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), in its defintion of Academic Freedom, states that "teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results... they are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject... college and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of and educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or disciple..." As scholars and educational officers, academicians should remember that the public potentially could judge their profession and institution by their utterances and their behavior.

    The search for truth through academic freedom requires that scholars be protected in posing new, controversial and even unpopular ideas through their teaching, research and publication. The tradition of academic freedom has been translated into practice by several means, particularly constitutional interpretations of the first admendment penumral rights, including freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, and freedom to teach. In Griswold v. Connecticut, Douglas found that "... the state may not, consistently with the spirit of the First Admendment, contract the spectrum of available knowledge. THe right to freedom of speech and press include not only the right to utter or to print, but the right to distribute, the right to receive, the right to read... and freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, and freedom to teach... indeed the freedom of the entire university community. Without those peripheal rights the specific rights would be less secure."

    First admendment protection requires the requiste state action to be present and may provide minimal protection for faculty in private institutions. Therefore, protection of academic freedom in private institutions must come either through state constitutional protections that reach private institutions, or through contract principles. Contract law may provided the basis of protection where AAUP Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure or other customs and/or practices are adopted expressly or through implication in the contact of employment. Consequently, it is becoming more norm to provide academic protection in faculty contracts resulting from collective bargaining or other organized labor activity.

    So then, how is academic freedom organized? There are 5 "zones." 1) Classroom and laboratory- relates to teaching (what is taught, who may teach, how one may teach, and the right to hear) and research (what can be researched, publication, and disclosure of research, how research may be conducted, and who may do research); 2) citizens of the academy - involves the behavior of faculty in respect of the institution; 3) Faculty and relationship with the larger community - freedoms are equal to those of other citizens; 4) Institutional Academic Freedom - institutional autonomy and freedom from state interference; and 5) National Security and corporate interest.

    In all cases, there will be a balancing of interest. It is important to understand that because it may be the protection of freedom of the academy, rather than the individual freedom of a faculty member that is at stake, there is sometimes tension between faculty members and the academic institution in balancing those particular interest.

    Although Winset's termination could have been explored a little more easily, it is imperative to understand the fundamental concepts of teaching responsibility. Clearly, the demonstration construed is not bridged between the subject matter Winset was hired to teach and the topic which was being discussed. And, moreover, Winset was adjunct faculty, meaning he does not have the protections of tenured faculty within the institution, unless special provisions were made.

    There are many variables to associate with the bureaucracy of the academy, but it is clearly articulate in who teaches, what they teach and how it is delivered. Although I am not an attorney, I would suspect that Winset's situation covers a multitude of grey areas. Yet, I am compelled to believe that even under state action, Winset would not garnish the positive outcomes he might wish to achieve.

    Just my .02
     
  11. JustAsking

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    HG,
    Permit me to rush in here and support you on this notion of perspective. We have to separate our emotional response, our outrage, our grief, and our respect for victims from our deliberations on what actions we need to take to mitigate things like this.

    Once you get some emotional distance from something very traumatic, such as 9/11 or the UV shootings, only then can you look at the statistics and figure out where to apply your resources. You are correct in citing the Patriot Act as a case where remedies can be way out of proportion to the problem. The comparison of terrorism fatalities in the US cmpared to car accident victims is a good case in point.

    Naturally, the true danger of something doesn't lie solely in the statistics. The number of people killed in the 9/11 attack is not a direct measure of the threat of terrorism on US soil. However, neither is the emotional reaction we get from things like this an accurate measure of the threat.

    I am sure you get lots of criticism when you express opinions like this, but it is something that needs to be said. Restricting the civil rights of our citizens is a very serious thing and should only be done judiciously with an accurate perspective on the real level of threat it is meant to mitigate.

    I haven't found the video yet, but if this is the message the Prof was fired for, I am thinking that it was an overreaction.
     
  12. DC_DEEP

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    JA, oh how I wish I could introduce you to my former Logic and Philosophy professor. Dinner and an evening of discourse with you and him would be a dream come true for me. He fits, exactly, what you described as the job of a professor.

    The patriot act is an example of a case where the remedies have absolutely nothing to do with remedies to the problem.

    And you are absolutely correct in your assessment of the restriction of civil rights. Doing so as a knee-jerk reaction is dangerous. Citizens allowing it to go without comment, for fear of being labelled "anti-patriot" is worse.

    I admit, I did not read the linked article. I'm saturated. I understand the outrage, the bewilderment, all those related emotions regarding the VA Tech tragedy. But I am absolutely saturated with the "coverage," which I found to be more sensational than informative. The media all walk a fine line in reporting something as important as this, but rarely even pretend to toe that line. They pander. They work hard at saturating the public.

    I don't know if that professor was trading in similar tactics, but given the time frame, I'm guessing he was.
     
  13. HazelGod

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    And the hits just keep on coming...

    Chicago area high school English teacher has straight-A student arrested for "disturbing" creative writing essay.

    Here's another local take on the story.

    Someone please let me know if you're able to locate the text of this essay...I'm very curious.

    EDIT:
    I found the essay, along with the instructions for its creation. It appears to have been a timed free-writing exercise, with specific instructions to write whatever comes to mind without correcting mistakes or censoring yourself.
     
  14. Ethyl

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    Well, he's good at following instructions...

    It's a little disturbing to read and not the brightest thing for him to do given recent events. The question remains: how much is rhetoric? He says it's a joke but what else would he say?

    I liken this to going through security at the airport. You don't joke about bombs or weapons while you're dumping your stuff on the conveyor belt. You're automatically suspect, people become extremely nervous, and you will be pulled aside for questioning.
     
  15. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Speaking of thinking things through, you are refering to some specific "constitutional abuse" or is this just a rote reference to a BDS talking point?

    Naturally the piles of dead bodies don't come into it - some ten thousand Americans die every day, and it's hardly cause for panic.
     
  16. HazelGod

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    Am I supposed to know what that acronym denotes?
     
  17. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Even Wikipedia has it; it can't be all that avant-guard.
     
  18. Pecker

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    Um ... if I'm paying my good money for a financial accounting class and the professor starts spouting off about gun control I want my money back.
     
  19. HazelGod

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    If you're redirecting your audience to external sources for disambiguation of your acronyms, you shouldn't be abbreviating.

    FYI, the term is avant-garde.


    EDIT:
    More fun with the notion of free expression of opinion. Apparently, voicing support for gay equality gets you booted out of your teaching job.
     
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