Academic Freedom Under Fire in New York

A man selected to be chair of the Sociology Department of Brooklyn College has withdrawn his name from consideration
after there was a conservative media firestorm in New York over an
online essay he authored. What were the controversial views he aired:
was he anti-Semitic? Communist? Worse: he’s an athiest.

… Besides, so what if Shortell’s essay is offensive? Brooklyn College
is a public, secular institution, not a Bible college. The Sun claimed
Shortell’s disdain for religion would cloud his judgment of job
candidates, but there was never any evidence that this would be the
case. No student ever complained about his teaching; his colleagues
trusted him enough to elect him to the post; the student work posted on
his website is apolitical and bland. Predictions of bias, absent any
evidence, are just a backhanded way of attacking his beliefs. You might
as well say no Southern Baptist should be chair, since someone who
believes that women should be subject to their husbands, homosexuality
is evil and Jews are doomed to hell won’t be fair to female, gay or
Jewish job candidates. Or no Orthodox Jew or Muslim should be chair
because religious restrictions on contact with the opposite sex would
privilege some job candidates over others.

But nobody ever does say that.

… People who believe in academic freedom have got to take these incidents seriously and get active before it’s too late.

Lest you get too desperate, the author of the article points out the same thing happened to renowned writer and thinker Bertrand Russell. In 1940.


Author: Rob Goodspeed