Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Conservatives For Make Benefit Image of Intolerance

There's stupid and then there's stupid.

Regular readers may remember this little exchange involving my favorite professor, professor Long, around the fifth anniversary of September 11.

Well apparently, some genius classmate of mine has taken it upon themself to file a comlaint with the Students For Academic Freedom. (Click on the Forum on abuses at the top of the page.)

Here is the complaint:

Description of Complaint (please be as detailed as possible, including quotes from your professor where applicable): A professor (Professor Long) using an inappropriate forum to advance his views (trivializing 9/11). I have asked to be taken off his mailing list to no avail. He said I would need to drop out of law school. Professor Dunlap, I would also ask whether you will at all draw a comparison between 9/11 and either Auschwitz, or Hiroshima, or, Nagasaki? Perhaps these numbers would help. It would take between 275 and 400 attacks on the World Trade Center to match the death toll at Auschwitz alone where between 1.1 and 1.6 million died. “[I]t is estimated that by December 1945, as many as 140,000 had died in Hiroshima by the bomb and its associated effects. In Nagasaki, roughly 74,000 people died of the bomb and its after-effects. In both cities, most of the casualties were civilians.” I feel for those who lost family and friends on 9/11. However, it is important to keep things, especially “tragedies,” in perspective. That perspective should be both global and historical. There are big tragedies, and then there are the relatively small ones. Respectfully, Leonard Long -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Long, Leonard Prof. Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2006 3:06 PM To: Dunlap, William Prof.; Law Students; Law Full Time Faculty; Law Part Time Faculty; Law Administration Subject: RE: 9/11/ 5th Anniversary Observance Professor Dunlap, I see you are going to be on a panel discussing how the world has changed since 9/11. Queries: Are you going to explain to everyone how the American people were manipulated into an un-winnable war (or two)? How the American people are foolishly trading in liberties for mere promises of security? How the notion of ‘American exceptionalism’ is self-congratulatory bunk? Are you going to explain to people how American, being almost totally ignorant of both world history and their history, fail to see how all these problems are hardly new? And, given your journalism background, will you explain to them how the news media has compromised itself by ‘embedding’ itself with the military? Most of us are fairly comfortable in our middle-class lives; it is someone else’s son and daughter who are coming home in a body bag because the Administration cannot acknowledge that it miscalculated. We think our technology will save us. It will not. Honest, critical thinking will save us, but such is in short supply. We have become a rather trivial people, more concerned with JonBonet than with Corporal Jones. Sorry, this former altar boy has misplaced his faith in America. Respectfully, Leonard Long -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Scully, Sherilyn Dean Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2006 10:27 AM To: Law Students; Law Full Time Faculty; Law Part Time Faculty; Law Administration Subject: 9/11/ 5th Anniversary Observance Hello all- The University has planned a series of events to commemorate the fifth year anniversary of September 11, 2001. A wreath in honoring the victims of September 11th will also be placed in the law school front lobby. The first event, a panel discussion, begins this evening. Best regards, Sherilyn Scully
Action Taken: Asked to be taken off this professor's mailing list. Refused.
Response from Professor or Administrator (If Any): talk to tech people about blocking his email. I tried this but it will not work with my email software (I like to forward school emails to my hotmail account). Time of Posting : Tuesday, October 03, 2006

And here is Prof. Long's e-mail response from the other day:

A lawyer friend of mine sent an email to me where she mentioned that a student had filed a complaint against me on a website called Students for Academic Freedom. I have copied the complaint below. I find several points interesting.

(1) The student suggests that I trivialized 9/11. It seems to me that stating how it measure up against some other historical events is not exactly to trivialize it.

(2) The student does not mention the point of my email was to get student to think about 9/11, its implications and ramifications.

(3) The student does not mention that my email was sent to the law school community,--that is, I used the law school’s distribution list rather than my own—because the event was a University event and I was responding to a University-wide email.

(4) Moreover, the student does not mention that I have no control over the university’s and law school distribution list. So, I cannot delete anyone from the list. My statement to the student was that as long as the student was a student she would be on the distribution list, unless someone in technology could arrange for her to be deleted from the master list. Needless to say, I was not suggesting that she actually be so deleted.

Lastly, (5) It seems a bit strange to be reported to an organization which claims to promote freedom of expression on campus (it actually want to promote conservative speech on campus) on the alleged basis that I am preventing speech when I thought I was encouraging it.

I am okay with the student filing her complaint. What I am not okay with is her getting the facts and sentiment wrong.

I am not a conservative. I am very much a libertarian in the F.A. Hayek mode. So, a charge that I am blocking student speech is way, way off base.

This is your law school in the sense that it is your education which is at stake. You need to decide what sort of community it is. And one of the critical defining characteristics of the institution concerns whether its member --students, faculty, administration, graduates-- are open to listening to the opposing points of view. I fear the student who filed the complaint is more typical of the law school community than not. I hope I am wrong.


Prof. Long

I hope Prof. Long is wrong too. He explains the specifics of the situation, which the student filing the complaint did not bother to do. I don't have much to say, other than "wow." Personally I think the Students For Academic Freedom are well-intentioned. Yes, they are conservative leaning, but they exist to point out liberal bias in the classroom, biases that can work against the academic interest of conservative students. The problem with these sorts of organizations is when stupid people misunderstand the organization's reasons for existence. Students For Academic Freedom is not about silencing speech you don't agree with.

Here, this was an instance of a professor offering a political viewpoint outside the classroom. This wasn't about indoctrination, this wasn't about a teacher spending class time on an unrelated political subject, and this wasn't about a professor shutting down discourse. This was a professor, outside of class, looking to start a discourse on an important issue.

I take this somewhat personally because I can't remember ever having a professor who was so interested at promoting discussion and encouraging critical thinking. And he's the one who gets an "academic freedom" complaint? Just crazy.


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