David Horowitz, Academic Freedom and the Kirstein Case: A Response to Mr Horowitz’s Response: Part II

I am pleased that Mr Horowitz has indicated that had he known about my sanctions that were widely reported in his Frontpagemag.com he would have opposed them. I take him at his word and appreciate his comment on this area. Mr Horowitz also noted the following:

“St. Xavier is a religious institution and so has wide lattitude (sic) to discipline and restrict the St. Xavier community. But if St. Xavier subscribes to the tenets of academic freedom it should observe them.”

Religious institutions do not have a “wider latitude to discipline and restrict” the academic freedom of professors unless they are included in the limitations clause of the AAUP 1940 Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure. Rarely are Catholic universities in this category because they are generally non-creedal. They do not require as a condition of employment or in issuing annual contracts, an adherence to Roman Catholicism and, as some faith-based Christian institutions, to swear fidelity for example to the Apostles’ Creed or the Augsburg Confession. If a religious institution wishes to restrict academic freedom, it must be carefully articulated at the time of an appointment. Nothing in my case would exonerate an institution from honouring commonly accepted notions of academic freedom. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the National Association of Scholars strongly supported my academic freedom and opposed publicly and in national media my suspension and reprimand. Those are very conservative groups and they were aware that my case represented a challenge to demonstrate impartiality in addressing the suppression of speech that is so widespread in academia today. They met that challenge and I remain grateful to them.

I noted that one of the Horowitz 101 “Dangerous” professors had preceded me on Mr Horowitz’s blog and was also featured prominently on Frontpagemag. I read those comments and noted this professor twice referred to Mr Horowitz as an “old man.” I am not sure that such statements, that may appear to be ageist, are helpful as we battle the thunder from the right and endeavor to defend academia from those who wish to transform it into a less critical and more ideologically conformist entity.

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