Prof. Stanley Fish has been discussing on his nytimes blog whether or how freely political opinions should be expressed by a teacher in the college or university classroom.
Fish’s first post was a long response to Evan Coyne Maloney’s Indoctrinate U.
The basic thrust of Fish’s post seems to be that,
Academics often bridle at the picture of their activities presented by Maloney and other conservative critics, and accuse them of grossly caricaturing and exaggerating what goes on in the classroom. Maybe so, but so long as there are those who confuse advocacy with teaching, and so long as faculty colleagues and university administrators look the other way, the academy invites the criticism it receives in this documentary. In 1915, the American Association of University Professors warned that if we didn’t clean up our own shop, external constituencies, with motives more political than educational, would step in and do it for us. Now they’re doing it in the movies and it’s our own fault.
My response follows:
I would not entirely agree with the thesis that politics has no place in the Academy.
As teachers, can we not state that, for instance, “Torture is antithetical to every basic principle of the American democratic system”? Or contrariwise, “Corporal punishment has been a feature of the American system of justice since its inception, and even killing a prisoner who has been condemned to death after due process is held to be judicially and legally acceptable under federal and most state jurisdictions today”?
Can we not say, “The evidence for global warming is regarded as conclusive by an overwhelming international consensus of scientists” as well as, “Solar incident radiation is the principle contributing factor to global warming in accordance with Boltzmann’s Law and the primary factor mediating this is the albedo of the earth, and any radiative forcing from CO2 in the atmosphere is negligible by comparison”?
Is it not precisely so that such opinions can be voiced without fear of retribution that we have tenured positions in the academic structure? If one prevailing political, scientific, or social view is defined culturally as “objective” and no other views are permitted to be advanced or advocated by a teacher in a classroom setting, then where is the great “marketplace of ideas” of which the classroom is a preeminent exemplar? As the Supreme Court held in Keyishian v. Board of Regents, (385 U.S. 589, 605-606 , supreme.justia.com/us/385/589/case.html ):
‘Our Nation is deeply committed to safeguarding academic freedom, which is of transcendent value to all of us and not merely to the teachers concerned. That freedom is therefore a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom. “The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.” Shelton v. Tucker, supra, at 487. The classroom is peculiarly the “marketplace of ideas.” The Nation’s future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to that robust exchange of ideas which discovers truth “out of a multitude of tongues, [rather] than through any kind of authoritative selection.”‘
Thank you for your interesting post and enjoyable and weighty blog, Prof. Fish.
See also: The Universities Under Attack …
I would further note that after 1915 the political “cleaning up” of leftist radicals such as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman took the unpleasant form of the Palmer Raids in 1919, indeed an interesting and fraught comparison to draw with our present political situation.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
Students at the University of Florida have carried out a second day of protest actions over the shocking and detention of Andrew Meyer, a student who tried to ask controversial questions of US Senator John Kerry. The actions included marching, speeches, chalking sidewalks, and a mass submission of more than 50 official complaints over the police conduct. UF taser protest, day 2
The Gainesville Sun has some information about the two officers suspended over the unjustified assault on Meyer, who was at the microphone questioning US Senator John Kerry when the police grabbed him, dragged him to the back of the auditorium, and apparently handcuffed him, then shocked him with a stun gun.
More than 50 students filed complaints with UF Police over their handling of the situation.
Police did not release the complaints Thursday, saying they could become the subject of an internal investigation. No decision on starting an internal investigation will be made until after FDLE’s independent review is completed, said UPD spokesman Capt. Jeff Holcomb.
The law enforcement agency did provide the personnel files of Sgt. Eddie King and Officer Nicole Mallo, the two officers placed on leave with pay.
King, 45, was hired at the police department in 1994 and had previously worked at the North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center. He was promoted in 2000. He had attended Florida A&M. A recent review called him an “effective, fair-minded, competent supervisor” who did a good job of maintaining calm in “trying” situations.
King had been reprimanded or disciplined in the past for issues including failing to report for duty for an overtime assignment and being involved in the 2003 arrest of a person for carrying a concealed firearm when it was lawful under the circumstances to have the weapon, according to his personnel file. King also received a four-day suspension after an undisclosed romantic relationship with an employee led to a workplace confrontation with another employee, according to his file.
Mallo, 30, graduated from the University of Florida and was hired by UPD in 2004. She had been commended this year for her work in traffic enforcement with more than 100 citations, four arrests for driving under the influence and more than 200 bicycle stops. She also was listed as an instructor with the agency’s Rape Aggression Defense program.
Mallo had been reprimanded after a traffic stop in 2006 when she accelerated her vehicle to 74 mph and “unnecessarily placed yourself and other motorists in danger,” according to reports. She also was cited for a traffic crash and using profanity when talking to a motorist, according to reports.
Both King and Mallo were commended after a 2004 incident when they diffused a situation with a student at a residence hall who was wielding a knife. Different investigations and reviews are under way into the Tasering and arrest of a University of Florida student earlier this week.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting an investigation into the use of force by UF Police, which is expected to be completed within 90 days.
Next week a panel of UF faculty and students will start a review of police policies. No timeline has been set for their review.
FDLE reviews Taser incident
UF police’s aggressive acts inexcusable
Keeping the Tasers holstered
University of Florida Taser incident (wikipedia)
Updated video: UF student Tasered at Kerry forum
An impromptu test of integrity
Shock and awe: censoring citizens with 5,000 volts
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
‘Children of Men’ is a Thoughtful, Provocative Science Fiction Drama
Children of Men
Universal Studios, 2007 (Widescreen Edition)
by Henry Edward Hardy
Children of Men is a brutal and provocative vision of modern society stressed beyond its breaking point. It is 2027, and no children have been born for 18 years. Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is a civil servant and former radical now working for the totalitarian civil administration in Britain. Theo is played with shell-shocked stupor by Owen. Theo fails to react visibly as a nearby shop blows up and a woman runs out screaming, holding the remains of her arm in her remaining hand. Owen’s best friend is broadly portrayed by Michael Caine, who channels John Lennon in his character of aging hippie “Jasper”.
Theo’s life of quiet desperation is shattered when his ex-wife-turned revolutionary, Julian (played by Julianne Moore), has him kidnapped and bribes him to assist in smuggling a young woman out of the country. Britain stands alone as much of the world descends into terrorism and anarchy–but it is a future Britain with much in common with dystopian novels such as George Orwell’s 1984.
Children of Men has much of the immediacy of a hand-held camera or a first-person view. A six minute sequence, apparently filmed continuously, represents the harshest and most realistic-appearing combat footage in cinema since Saving Private Ryan. The computer effects are undetectable; everything looks harshly, painfully real.
Children of Men is full of eclectic references, from Pink Floyd’s Animals to Banksey to Picasso to The Godfather to TS Elliot. When Theo and his companions enter a immigrant detention facility, one man in a metal cage stands in the Christ-like pose of the hooded man from the infamous Abu Ghraib photos. They are inducted to the detention facility through a metal series of aisles like a cattle corral over which hangs a sign reading “Homeland Security”.
Children of Men can be viewed as a futuristic road movie, a dystopian science fiction parable, or as a harsh and stinging attack on the repressive anti-terrorist and anti-immigrant policies of today. It is refreshing to see an action scene in which the hero or anti-hero doesn’t pick up a gun or use violence to resolve the situation. Director Alfonso Cuarón has produced a cataclysmic tour-de-force worthy of consideration and repeated viewing.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
A version of this review was previously published by Current.
The New York Times has an excellent article today (May 31, 2007) describing testimony regarding eight American soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines accused of unlawfully killing 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005. It isn’t entirely clear from the news articles but I surmise that these were Article 32 proceedings.
The article, 2 Marines Deny Suspecting Haditha War Crime, by Paul Von Zielbaur, details testimony by two First Lieutenants which was just made public. The recently released testimony is from First Lt. Alexander Martin and First Lt. Max D. Frank.
Lt. Martin testified that the killings in Haditha had made the civilian population more cooperative:
After 19 November, I had people coming up to me to tell me where the I.E.D.’s [land mines] were.
Lt. Frank testified about the activities of the detail which policed the scene. According to the Times report:
Lieutenant Frank told a Marine prosecutor that each of the eight bodies he found on the bed had “multiple holes” in it, and that one child’s head was missing. But Lieutenant Frank repeatedly said in his testimony that he had never considered the possibility that a war-crime violation had occurred, the legal threshold under Marine Corps regulations that compels an episode to be reported to a superior officer…
The marines had only four or five body bags at the base and used them to collect the largest of the dead civilians, said Lieutenant Frank. The children’s remains were placed in trash bags, he said. When the marines’ four-Humvee convoy carrying the bodies arrived at a local hospital morgue that evening, Iraqi workers reacted in horror and some vomited at the sight, he testified.
An investigation of the killings by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell in 2006 found, “Statements made by the chain of command during interviews for this investigation, taken as a whole, suggest that Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives, their deaths are just the cost of doing business, and that the Marines need to get ‘the job done’ no matter what it takes. These comments had the potential to desensitize the Marines to concern for the Iraqi populace and portray them all as the enemy even if they are noncombatants… The lessons for staff procedures and reporting are basic, but the case study will illustrate how simple failures can lead to disastrous results,” according to the Washington Post.
An interesting and comprehensive article from the July 1996 Army Lawyer examined the question of what obligations US troops have toward the dead, whether or not collected on the field of battle. The publication is citable as Army pamphlet 27-50-284:
The Third Priority: The Battlefield Dead
Lieutenant Colonel H. Wayne Elliott,
Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United Stares Army (Retired)
…The general obligation to the wounded is that
they be promptly treated without regard to their nationality. This
article examines the narrower issue of the duty a belligerent owes
to those who are beyond treatment-the dead. What obligations
exist regarding the dead? Must they be buried? If so, under
what conditions? Are the dead to be protected? If so, from what?
What of the property of the dead? What criminal sanctions apply
to maltreatment of the dead and their property? …
Article 15 expands the duty set out in the 1929 Geneva Convention.
The obligation under the 1949 Geneva Convention applies
“at all times” and is imposed on all parties, not just the force
left in control of the battlefield. …
The official Red Cross Commentary to the Convention,
which provides explanation and interpretation of the
treaty, describes the obligation to search for and protect the wounded
and dead as a “bounden duty, which must be fulfilled as soon as
circumstances permit.” However, this seems to be a slight overstatement
as the actual obligation to the dead is different from
that to the wounded. The obligation regarding the dead is to search
for them and to “prevent their being despoiled.” The requirement
is to collect the wounded and sick, but only to search for the dead.
Again, however, the Red Cross Commentary expands the obligation:
The dead must also be looked for and brought
back behind the lines with as much care as the
wounded. It is not always certain that death
has taken place. It is, moreover, essential that
the dead bodies should be identified and given
a decent burial. When a man has been hit with
such violence that there is nothing left of him
but scattered remains, these must be carefully
In October 1967, General Westmoreland, United
States Commander in Vietnam, described the practice of cutting
ears and fingers off the dead as “subhuman” and “contrary to all
policy and below the minimum standards of human decency.”
In the primary army manual on the law of war during the Vietnam
War, which still applies today, the “maltreatment of dead bodies”
is described as an act “representative of violations of the law of
war (war crimes)”…
Where the corpse is actually mutilated, the accused, if charged
under the UCMJ, might be charged only with “conduct prejudicial
to good order and discipline” (Article 134, UCMJ) or with a
violation of any standing orders against such conduct (Article 92,
UCMJ). Either of these two charges seems less than appropriate
given the severity, and depravity, of the offense. Therefore, in the
opinion of this author, one who mutilates a corpse should be
charged, and again would be more appropriately charged, with a
direct violation of the law of war. The United States policy of
charging United States soldiers with violating the UCMJ rather
than the law of war simply stands in the way of appropriate punishment
where mutilation of a corpse is alleged.
War leads to death and destruction. Those who give their
lives in warfare deserve respect, even from their adversaries on
the battlefield. The law and human decency permit no less. The
inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington
Cemetery provides the raison d’etre for protecting and honorably
treating the dead: “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American
Soldier, Known But to God.”
So we must pose the question: Would collecting the bodies and dismembered body parts of the children in garbage bags and delivering them in this condition to an Iraqi hospital constitute appropriate treatment of the dead under the laws of war? To say nothing of course of blowing the children and their mother to bits with grenades and M4’s or M16’s as they cowered in their bedroom in the first place.
Deaths & injuries in the massacre
House #1 — 7 killed, 2 injured (but survived), 2 escaped
1. Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali, 76 — grandfather, father and husband. Died with nine rounds in the chest and abdomen.
2. Khamisa Tuma Ali, 66 — wife of Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali
3. Rashid Abdul Hamid, 30.
4. Walid Abdul Hamid Hassan, 35.
5. Jahid Abdul Hamid Hassan, middle-aged man.
6. Asma Salman Rasif, 32.
7. Abdullah Walid, 4.
Injured: Iman, 8, and Abdul Rahman, 5.
Escaped: Daughter-in-law, Hibbah, escaped with 2-month-old Asia
House #2 — 8 killed, 1 survivor: Shot at close range and attacked with grenades
8. Younis Salim Khafif, 43 — husband of Aeda Yasin Ahmed, father.
9. Aeda Yasin Ahmed, 41 — wife of Younis Salim Khafif, killed trying to shield her youngest daughter Aisha.
10. Muhammad Younis Salim, 8 — son.
11. Noor Younis Salim, 14 — daughter.
12. Sabaa Younis Salim, 10 — daughter.
13. Zainab Younis Salim, 5 — daughter.
14. Aisha Younis Salim, 3 — daughter.
15. A 1-year-old girl staying with the family.
Survived: Safa Younis Salim, 13.
House #3 — 4 brothers killed
16. Jamal Ahmed, 41.
17. Marwan Ahmed, 28.
18. Qahtan Ahmed, 24.
19. Chasib Ahmed, 27.
Taxi — 5 killed: Passengers were students at the Technical Institute in Saqlawiyah
20. Ahmed Khidher, taxi driver.
21. Akram Hamid Flayeh.
22. Khalid Ayada al-Zawi.
23. Wajdi Ayada al-Zawi.
24. Mohammed Battal Mahmoud.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
Human Rights Watch has compiled a comprehensive report about the case of one of the “disappeared”, Marwan Jabour. Most of the docile and pathetic British and US press have ‘reported’ on this publication without managing to link to it or even so much as mention the name of the report!
Here’s a bit from the Summary:
When Marwan Jabour opened his eyes, after a blindfold, a mask, and other coverings were taken off him, he saw soldiers and, on the wall behind them, framed photographs of King Hussein and King Abdullah of Jordan. He was tired and disoriented from his four-hour plane flight and subsequent car trip, but when a guard confirmed that he was being held in Jordan, he felt indescribable relief. In his more than two years of secret detention, nearly all of it in US custody, this was the first time that someone had told him where he was. The date was July 31, 2006.
A few weeks later, in another first, the Jordanians allowed several of Jabour’s family members to visit him. “My father cried the whole time,” Jabour later remembered.
Marwan Jabour was arrested by Pakistani authorities in Lahore, Pakistan, on May 9, 2004. He was detained there briefly, then moved to the capital, Islamabad, where he was held for more than a month in a secret detention facility operated by both Pakistanis and Americans, and finally flown to a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prison in what he believes was Afghanistan. During his ordeal, he later told Human Rights Watch, he was tortured, beaten, forced to stay awake for days, and kept naked and chained to a wall for more than a month. Like an unknown number of Arab men arrested in Pakistan since 2001, he was “disappeared” into US custody: held in unacknowledged detention outside of the protection of the law, without court supervision, and without any contact with his family, legal counsel, or the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The secret prison program under which Jabour was held was established in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when US President George W. Bush signed a classified directive authorizing the CIA to hold and interrogate suspected terrorists. Because the entire program was run outside of US territory, it required the support and assistance of other governments, both in handing over detainees and in allowing the prisons to operate.
–from the Summary of Ghost Prisoner: Two Years in Secret CIA Detention
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy