One year ago today I initiated the blog with this post although it was updated.
I have been asked if members of the administration are aware of my blog and if they have communicated any reaction to it.
I do not have an opinion concerning who is cognizant about the blog's existence. It is on a university server; it receives a rather heavy volume of hits and has completed its first year. One may draw their own conclusions. I do not preoccupy myself with who reads it but I will continue to articulate views that are consistent with my mission and my life. The university administration has not attempted in any manner to censor, edit or engage in any substantive control of my blog postings and commentary. Only Dr Richard Yanikoski, president emeritus, commented on my blog in two e-mail in 2005 and 2006. At the time of his critical communication, he was not in the administration at Saint Xavier University and at the appropriate time I may publish my e-mail exchange with him. I did refer to it and quoted excerpts at a conference at the University of Texas in February 2006.
I have received no reaction to the blog from any CURRENT administrator. I have attempted to maintain a decorum of speech (see below), a level of expertise and a commitment to my views and values in a manner that is forceful, intense and informative. I have also, although I detest it when administrators use the absence thereof as a means of censoring speech, subsequently added a disclaimer to my first blog, that while ironic in tone, is comprehensive. No one can claim that another’s voice is represented other than my own. That is one of the reasons the appellation of the blog is not a nom de guerre or some abstract, recondite reference. I know of no other faculty member at my institution that has a disclaimer on their blog but it was not requested and was placed voluntarily.
I have been asked frequently whether my being named one of David Horowitz's 101 Most Dangerous Academics, which I covered extensively on this blog, created a reaction among university officials and whether there was any communication to me about this inclusion.
I have no idea if it caused a reaction among the administration. There was no reaction that was expressed to me about the book. Many faculty and students did and I was pleased to discuss it with them. I even brought it up in several courses. Several colleagues who were named by David Horowitz that I have communicated with also experienced no official reaction from their universities. Some told me they did but it was supportive. None told me they have suffered adverse consequences from their administration. That does not preclude the absence of oppression but in my case I have received no official reaction related to Horowitz, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. As many know I debated Mr Horowitz last March on campus on the Iraq War which was supported in many ways by the administration.
I have been asked if having the blog on a university server makes me more vulnerable to censorship or control than if it were housed on a private or commercial server.
Theoretically I suppose that would be the case and other activist professors frequently do that, but once again, I have encountered no reaction to the blog. A colleague of mine has a server in his office in the English department and was kind enough to create this blog and house it there.
I have been asked if I think the blog is conducive to public dialogue and reflects well on a faculty member at my university. Related to this, I have been asked if blogging is an effective form of communication.
I definitely think it contributes to the public dialogue or I would not do it. I think faculty members at my university or any other should be encouraged to share and engage publics outside their classes on the issues of the day. I do feel it has value in terms of education, self-expression and reaching a broader audience. Yet I don’t do this for publicity; I don’t promote my blog like many do. I infrequently ask bloggers to link it and I am extremely selective about which blogs are on my blogroll. Sometimes I feel burdened by it and would like to post less frequently. So there might be adjustments down the road.
Some have noted that I rarely talk about myself. Others claim I do it too often.
Blogs are web diaries but I am not into that mode of expression. I keep non-academic personal stuff off the blog. I do include professional activities that are relevant to the blog’s mission. I don’t think folks are too interested in biography and personal things but are interested in my politics and commentary. So that is what this is all about.
I have been asked whether there is anything I have placed on my blog that I am ashamed of or embarrassed by and whether I have had second thoughts about what I write. I have been asked whether I engage in self-censorship out of fear of being sanctioned by the university or creating a new firestorm emanating from my views.
I am never ashamed. I am never embarrassed. I concede I might revise or remove an item, for example, if I believe it needs modification or excision. I have done that maybe five or six times but never as the result of third-party intervention. I am never afraid; I am rarely hesitant; firestorms tend to follow me and if I sought "shelter from the storm," I might as well remove the blog. Sanctions are the least of my worries which is what freedom means in part: Inner strength evolving from prior institutional censorship to demand autonomy and academic freedom.
I have been asked when using harsh rhetoric, whether it obfuscates reason and detracts from the "academic" orientation of the blog.
It may. I acknowledge that but I endeavor generally to buttress impassioned rhetoric with knowledge and analysis, so it does not descend into ranting and raving without intellectual foundation. Again I write the blog and people can choose whether to consult it or not. I don't do this to please an audience, but to communicate views that I think are worthwhile. It is a form of free expression and while I am hopeful folks read it and learn from it, I don't lose sleep over individualised or group reaction to it. I crossed the Rubicon on suspension day, Veterans Day, 2002 and I have never looked back. I would gladly sacrifice my career before I compromised my inner ethics and principles and folks who know me do not doubt this assertion.
I have been asked if the blog advances the educational mission of the university St Xavier U where I am a tenured full professor although sometimes it does not feel like it.
When one is controversial, I suppose one gets that question. How can I answer that without being self-serving? I am asked that a lot and am frank here. I take seriously my activities and I will let others judge their impact. If advocating peace and justice, academic freedom, and human rights is consistent with a university's mission, then the answer is easily accessible.
For some reason I get this question or a variant of it all the time. If I were a student thinking of attending St Xavier University and were to read my blog, would I want to attend?
I really think it is a dumb question. Sorry but it is. How would I know? My courses for fall 2006, as all semesters, are closed and some even have waitlists. The university is experiencing a spike in enrollment so all these students that are not coming here because I am antiwar and labeled "dangerous" must be a number smaller than those of decency and honour who occupy senior national-security positions in the United States government.
"…freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth."
Justice Louis D. Brandeis
Larkin vs State of California, 1927