Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Death of Tenure

Well, I see that the University of Colorado has finally gone ahead and fired Ward Churchill. They claim not to have fired him for what he said about 9/11 (calling the victims in the WTC "little Eichmanns") but instead for misrepresentations and plagiarism. Bullshit. They freely admitted that they launched their investigation of Churchill because of the uproar caused by his 9/11 essay, and the whole thing had the flavor of a witch hunt. I've already said I think Churchill's essay was despicable but was free speech (the regents of Colorado said the same), but somebody other than the one regent who voted not to fire him should stand up and say this is bullshit. The things they did fire Churchill for seem as interpretive as his 9/11 comments. They claim he fabricated evidence that the US Army intentionally spread small pox among American Indians, and that he misrepresented the Indian's plight. But both of these are conclusions he came to: there are not indisputable facts either way. The third thing they claim, that he claimed credit for the work of a Canadian environmental group, is also pretty trumped up. Let's face it: they wanted to get rid of him because of what he said about 9/11, and they found a way. Make no mistake: this is the death of freedom of speech for scholars. It is the end of academic independence. It is the death of tenure.


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