Posted by: quiscus | April 7, 2011

April 7, 2011

1.  There’s a surprise:

“General: U.S. may consider troops in Libya”

2.  “Should Professors in Public Universities Give up their Email Addresses?


The latest McCarthyite tactics of the American Right Wing is to attempt to intimidate professors at public universities by launching Freedom of Information Requests for their emails, as part of a witch hunt for dreaded Liberal Opinions.

First, the proxies for the Koch brothers in the Wisconsin legislature went after the emails of prominent University of Wisconsin professor William Cronon (the incoming head of the American Historical Association). The reasoning here is that state laws typically prohibit the use of state resources for partisan political activity, and those states with open meeting laws want to make sure that state resources are not used for political plotting in smoke-filled rooms.

Academics are given tenure to protect their free speech from political reprisals, and this misuse of the Freedom of Information and Open Meeting provisions is intended to take back some of that intellectual freedom, as the Modern Language Association has correctly argued.. Despite the US first amendment, which is replicated in state constitutions, free speech in the US is rare.

The point of the intimidation by the Right wing legislators and think tanks is to detract from academic free speech.

Ironically, at a time when Tunisia has abolished its ‘Ministry of Information,’ which was charged with censoring the speech of suspicious people like professors, the United States is descending into a relentless Ben-Aliism fomented by our class of super-rich, our own Trabelsis. Indeed, it is not entirely clear that you can have a democracy when so many of your people have few resources but when you have 400 billionaires (and more people worth $700 mn.) who can buy and sell legislators and have the laws written for the benefit of their corporations. What chance would mere workers and unions (now representing only 9% of the American labor force) have in the face of this dense, black-hole-like concentration of grasping Capital? What chance would mere professors in their ivory towers have of being heard above the cacophony of corporate ‘news’? It is unclear to me why the Right wing is so insecure. Everything has been going their way for decades, why bother to try to snuff out even embers of dissent?”

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