Friday, April 6, 2012

My Way, or the Highway: Academic 'Freedom' at Iowa's Top Law School

I'm not as surprised at what's happening at an Iowa law school as I'd like to be. The ideal of academic freedom, where faculty and students may discuss issues and hold positions which don't conform to official policy, is a nice ideal.

In practice, "academic freedom" means being free to either agree with the tenured professors; keep quiet; or leave. I left, and that's another topic.

Faith, Freedom, and Responsibility

This post may seem out of place in a 'religious' blog. I've discussed why my faith won't let me ignore civic responsibilities before:
Basically, I'm a practicing Catholic. That means that I have to pay attention to issues, and take an active role in public affairs. I put links 'for more information' near the bottom of this post, under Background.

Entrenched 'Tolerance'

"Iowa Republicans blast law school over refusal to hire conservative professor as faculty"
Cristina Corbin, (April 6, 2012)

"Iowa Republicans are taking aim at the state's top law school for denying a faculty position to a conservative law professor, who an assistant dean once said embraces politics the rest of the faculty 'despises.'

"Teresa Wagner, who works as an associate director of writing at the University of Iowa College of Law, is suing former dean Carolyn Jones for employment discrimination, claiming she was not hired for a professor position because Jones and other law faculty disapproved of her conservative views and activism.

"To hold a law faculty position at the publicly funded university is viewed as a 'sacred cow,' Wagner said in an interview, and 'Republicans need not apply.'...

"...Fieweger said Wagner's candidacy was dismissed because of her conservative views, and he cited a 2007 email from Associate Dean Jonathan C. Carlson to Jones in which Carlson wrote: 'Frankly, one thing that worries me is that some people may be opposed to Teresa serving in any role, in part at least because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it).'...

"...Fieweger said the law school and academic institutions in general have been so 'entrenched' in discriminating against conservative-minded faculty over the years that 'they don't recognize they're doing it.'..."
[emphasis mine]
I remember the 'good old days,' when the establishment was almost entirely male, white, and conservative. I didn't think much of the sort of 'freedom' represented by McCarthyism, and I don't think much of the 'tolerance' of today's establishment: where folks are free to say or do whatever they like. As long as the establishment approves.1

The good news is that today the rest of us aren't dependent on a handful of broadcast networks and The New York Times for information. And that's yet another topic.

Related posts:
In the news:

1 By "the establishment," I mean the people and institutions in this country with enough power and influence to affect how the rest of us live. When I was growing up, "the establishment" was white, male, and conservative. The days of pale men with short hair and no beards is over. The new establishment looks different, and has different political preferences: but the 'my way or the highway' attitude hasn't changed. I've been over this before:

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.