Tuesday, December 26, 2006

British Academics seek right to offend

A right that they theoretically have already -- but not of course in practice. See also here under the heading "Staff are silenced by fear of reprisals"

A group of academics is demanding the right to be controversial in a new campaign for freedom of speech. Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF) says that in today's political climate it is "harder than ever" for scholars to defend open debate. AFAF says they must be allowed to question received wisdom, and managers should not be able to discipline academics for voicing unpopular views. The group is calling on all university lecturers to sign its online petition.

"Restrictive legislation, and the bureaucratic rules and regulations of government quangos and of universities themselves, have undermined academic freedom," the groups says. "Many academics are fearful of upsetting managers and politicians by expressing controversial opinions. "Afraid to challenge mainstream thought, many pursue self-censorship."

A Leeds University lecturer, Frank Ellis, took early retirement this year before a disciplinary hearing over his comments that there was evidence to suggest white people had higher IQ levels than black people.

Statement of freedom

The statement of academic freedom which lecturers are being asked to sign says two principles are the foundation of academic freedom: "That academics, both inside and outside the classroom, have unrestricted liberty to question and test received wisdom and to put forward controversial and unpopular opinions, whether or not these are deemed offensive. "That academic institutions have no right to curb the exercise of this freedom by members of their staff, or to use it as grounds for disciplinary action or dismissal."

Writing on the AFAF website, Professor Roy Harris from the University of Oxford said: "Getting university authorities to agree to these principles is an essential step towards safeguarding academic freedom for the future." Professor Mary Evans from the University of Kent said: "Universities need to be able to maintain, and even extend their ability to think the unthinkable. "They should not accept a role as mere instruments of state agendas."

Simon Davies, co-director of the policy engagement research group at the London School of Economics, added: "I'm deeply worried about the number of academics who flee in terror at the slightest wisp of controversy. "Rather than engage the world in a spirit of challenge, too many academics have been sedated by an oppressive environment of political correctness and risk aversion."

Source. More detail here under the heading: "Scholars demand right to be offensive".

The war goes on

Is it a war on Christmas, or a war on Christianity?

Once again, the time of year in which there is supposed to be “joy to the world” arrives rife with conflict over the very symbols of the season, despite protestations to the contrary. In the name of political correctness — the modern euphemism for Marxist intolerance — we have seen this Yuletide season a decision by the city of Chicago to prohibit the use of a trailer from the movie “The Nativity Story” at a Christmas festival, the removal of Christmas trees from the Seattle-Tacoma airport, the usual threats of lawsuits from the ACLU and other Marxists organizations over the performance of Christmas carols in public schools, and the efforts to replace the holiday wishes of “Merry Christmas” with more generic, or meaningless, greetings. All, ostensibly, to avoid offending those who adhere to a faith, or non faith, other than Christianity.

In Chicago, city bureaucrats spent the better part of two days attempting to extricate themselves from their self-created difficulties arising from their decision to seek a ban on the use of the movie trailer. The festival, at Chicago’s Daley Plaza, is officially the German Christkindlmarket, a privately-funded event. One of the sponsors was New Line Cinema, producers of the movie “The Nativity Story,” and as part of the sponsorship, trailers from the movie were going to be shown.

Officially, city bureaucrats were worried that the movie trailers “may offend non-Christians.” Somehow, those bureaucrats seemed to have overlooked the fact that the festival is, indeed, a Christmas festival, and Christmas is, inherently, a Christian celebration. That others may wish to somehow secularize the celebration, or to somehow deny it, is not particularly germane.

At Sea-Tac airport, Christmas trees were removed almost immediately when a lawsuit was threatened. The trees were, fortunately, replaced when public outcry effectively embarrassed the man who first raised the question about the appropriateness of the display, and led to him almost immediately rescinding his objections.

But across the country, the attack on Christmas continues with varying degrees of success on the part of the politically correct attempting to impose their own brand of tyranny. It wasn’t that long ago that a New Jersey school decided to prohibit even the instrumental rendition — no lyrics — of traditional Christmas carols like “Silent Night.” Or that a school in Washington banned the performance of the Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” because it somehow was deemed to have “religious” connotations.

The Christmas season, it seems, is supposed to have no reference to the reason, or the tradition, it represents. Unfortunately, it seems only at this particular time of year that the continual onslaught against a particular religion, Christianity, receives any real notice, but it is not limited to this particular time of year. The ACLU battled residents of San Diego for 15 years over whether or not a cross memorializing veterans should be removed from Mt. Soledad. That case was finally resolved when the land was taken over by the U.S. government as a national memorial, allowing the cross to remain. The City of Angels, Los Angeles, has had to remove a cross from its city seal.

As these attacks go on, however, there is no mention of the obeisance the U.S. military is forced to show the Islamic terrorists detained at Guantanamo for their faith, the special treatment that must be accorded the Korans supplied to them, or the criticism leveled against guards when they were falsely accused of desecrating those Korans.

It is tragically ironic that in attacking one faith, the politically correct continues to pervert the First Amendment. In finding a non existent clause in the amendment — a separation of church and state — it has demanded the abrogation of a clause which actually does exist — Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof — by forcing the acceptance the tenets of a non religion, atheism, or of a non Christian religion, Islam.

Meanwhile, the famed “Little Town of Bethlehem” remains under siege. It was only a couple of years ago that Islamic terrorists seized the Church of the Nativity and held hostage several nuns and priests while vandalizing and looting its contents. Bethlehem, once 80 percent Christian, is now 85 percent Muslim, and the Christmas, and Christian, symbols there are being eliminated there with the same surety the politically correct are endeavoring to do in the United States.


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