Academic Freedom



Academic freedom is something generally taken for granted, as is Freedom of Speech. Two recent events have caught my attention. The first in China concerning Professor Jiao Guobiao:

China’s most prestigious university has dismissed a journalism professor who last year boldly called for the abolition of the Communist Party’s powerful media censorship arm.

The BBC reports:

Publishing houses have already been banned from printing his books, and he was included in a blacklist of intellectuals forbidden from appearing in the media.

The second in the USA concerns Joseph Massad, a Professor at Columbia, who was recently cleared of Anti-Semitism charges by a commitee, that was formed after a campaign against him for teaching a course that provided a “critical historical overview of the Zionist-Palestinian conflict”.

The commitee did find that:

…the involvement of outside organizations in the surveillance of professors teaching the Middle East increased. The watch-list of professors published online from late 2002 by a group called Campus Watch which invited students to send in reports on their instructors, led to the named professors receiving hate mail.

And that:

Testimony that we received indicated that in February 2002 Professor Massad had good reason to believe that a member of the Columbia faculty was monitoring his teaching and approaching his students, requesting them to provide information on his statements in class as part of a campaign against him.

And that, despite the campaign against him:

We have no basis for believing that Professor Massad systematically suppressed dissenting views in his classroom. To the contrary, there is ample evidence of his willingness — as part of a deliberate pedagogical strategy — to permit anyone who wished to do so to comment or raise a question during his lectures.

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