June 21, 2005

Magnum Farce

If Dirty Harry worked at DePaul University, he probably would have had the following advice for unfortunate adjunct professor Klocek:

"Do ya have tenure, punk? Well, do ya?"

The unspoken portion of the warning being, "if you don't, keep it shut." Now we all know that this is patently obvious advice while in the classroom or in faculty meetings, but who knew that it also applied to after-hours interactions? Professor Klocek didn't. Fortuntately for him, neither does FIRE.

I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this as universities are forced to deal with the tension that they created by simultaneously privileging speech codes and free speech. If you're going to take the stance that you're all about academic freedom and exposing people to different points of view, then you can't go around suspending your adjuncts because some delicate flower had his or her freedom "demeaned" at an event outside of the classroom. As was pointed out in the comments at Erin's blog, your guess is as good as mine regarding how exactly freedom gets demeaned when someone provides an opposing point of view. Your guess is also welcome as to how someone who describes freedom as "demeanable" got a position as a dean.

Which begs several questions, but the most salient to me is this: would Klocek have been suspended if he'd had tenure? Since I am a very cynical person and Klocek was making an argument contra a pro-palestinian position, I would have to hazard a "yes" guess.

Tenure is only half the protection it used to be. The other half consists of negotiating that weird tightrope between freedom and offense. I'm hoping the tightrope gets removed completely--a university culture based on being inoffensive doesn't offer much to anyone in the way of freedom.

And if you're an adjunct--well, you're pretty much screwed whatever you do.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at June 21, 2005 01:36 PM

Does the tightrope go from freedom to offense, or sort of perpendicular between them? Maybe towing a line would help.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at June 21, 2005 07:34 PM

Your guess is also welcome as to how someone who describes freedom as "demeanable" got a position as a dean.

Your opinion of deans is more charitable than mine: my 'guess' is "who else?"

Posted by: PersonFromPorlock at June 22, 2005 07:05 PM

Begging the question is a logical fallacy. The correct usage is 'Which begs to have the question asked'.

Posted by: NotanEnglishmajor at June 26, 2005 07:28 AM