Editing of both e-mail for typographical and occasional stylistic purposes was done. His e-mail initiated the exchange. This is what I wrote at the top of my e-mail followed by interpolations after most of his sentences below. I have removed the student's e-mail address.
I apologise for the informality but kindly consult my interpolations below.
I would be honoured, I am serious, to speak on your campus on the war, academic freedom and my career as a "radical" professor. As you probably know, David Horowitz included me in his book on the 101 most dangerous professors. I hope you will share with me a copy of your paper that you intend to submit to your sociology class.
University of Northern Iowa students. From U.N.I. website.
From: Dain Dockter
Sent: Thu 11/2/2006 12:34 AM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
Subject: Research Paper
I just wanted to let you know that I'm writing a paper for a sociology class about you. [I AM FLATTERED.]
I'm not going to resort to name calling as you did to the U.S. Airforce cadet, [See four paragraphs below] but I would like you to know that I think you were completely in the wrong on the email you sent to him and the way you handled it afterwards. [YOU WERE NOT ALONE ON THE FORMER BUT EVEN MY ADVERSARIES, OR AT LEAST MOST OF THEM, WERE SURPRISED THAT I COULD PREVAIL AND TURN WHAT WOULD NORMALLY BE A CAREER ENDING EVENT INTO A SIGNIFICANT AND AMAZINGLY PRODUCTIVE OPPORTUNITY TO DEFEND MYSELF, ACADEMIC FREEDOM, AND THE NEED TO ALLOW RADICAL DISSENT IN THE ACADEMY. [Academy refers to academia in general and not to a particular institution]
Your remarks afterwards about how it was a career maker instead of a career ender truly showed how sincere your apology was. [I DON'T SEE HOW THEY WERE RELATED. ONE COULD APOLOGISE AND STILL USE AN EVENT IN WHICH THERE WAS A PERSECUTION OF ONE'S POLITICAL BELIEFS TO MAKE OR COMMUNICATE A BROADER QUESTION. SHOULD PROFESSORS IN THE U.S. BE SILENCED AND SUSPENDED IN AN INAPPROPRIATE MANNER FOR PROTECTED SPEECH?]
It is clear that you are a secular progressive that wants drastic change in this country. [I AM NOT SURE WHAT IS SO WRONG WITH THAT.]
I pity you because you are clearly in the minority in that aspect. [I DON'T THINK PITY IS NEEDED FOR THOSE WHO MIGHT CONSTITUTE AN INTELLECTUAL MINORITY BUT CERTAINLY TOLERANCE OF MINORITY SPEECH IS ESSENTIAL TO PRESERVE AND DEEPEN CIVIL SOCIETY'S CAPACITY TO CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIAL AND PUBLIC POLICY.]
You sir, are a disgrace to this country, not the innocent U.S. Airforce cadet. [NOW YOU ARE CALLING ME NAMES WHICH IS NOT THE WAY TO RESOLVE CONFLICTS. IN FACT THE CADET APOLOGISED TO ME AND SO DID THE AIR FORCE ACADEMY BUT THERE WERE FORCES THAT WERE DETERMINED TO GET ME FIRED, SUSPENDED OR MARGINALISED. I DO BELIEVE THAT IS THE BROADER ISSUE HERE. WERE MY RIGHTS PROTECTED OR VIOLATED?]
You and other professors such as the University of Wisconsin's Kevin Barrett should be punished for your actions. [WELL WHAT KIND OF AMERICA DO YOU WANT TO LIVE IN? ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH YOU SHOULD BE PUNISHED OR WHO HAS A THEORY OR PHILOSOPHY THAT YOU CONSTRUE AS TOO RADICAL OR OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM? NO, YOUR EDUCATIONAL JOURNEY BENEFITS WHEN EXPOSED TO PROFESSORS WHO ARE FREE TO TEACH OUTSIDE THE BOX. IF YOUR PROFESSORS ARE NOT FREE, THEN NEITHER ARE YOU. WHILE I DO NOT AGREE WITH PROFESSOR BARRETT'S THEORY ON THE SOURCES BEHIND THE 9/11 ATTACKS, HE MUST BE ALLOWED TO ARTICULATE THEM AND HOPEFULLY OTHER DISPARATE EXPLANATIONS AS WELL.]
As teachers you are (and rightfully so) held to a higher standard, much like law enforcement officers. You teach radical ideas to students who might not be educated enough to make a valid assessment of your ideas. [YOU HAVE NEVER TAKEN MY COURSES HAVE YOU? IF I WERE A RIGHT-WING CONSERVATIVE, WOULD YOU BE AFRAID THAT I WOULD BE INDOCTRINATING STUDENTS? I WON THE TEACHING EXCELLENCE AWARD AND I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT VERY FEW FOLKS SHARE YOUR ASSESSMENT. SO MANY TRIED TO GET ME FIRED ON THE GROUNDS THAT I TEACH WITHOUT RESPECT FOR DIFFERENT VIEWS. THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THEY WERE NOT MY STUDENTS. PROFESSORS FREQUENTLY MAKE THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN PUBLIC ADVOCACY AND CLASSROOM TEACHING. YOU ASSUME THEY OR ME IN PARTICULAR CANNOT. YOU ARE WRONG SIR!]
You and Barrett then hide behind your freedom of speech and your rights as a professor, When you are a professor that is teaching the "Future of America" (our youth) do you not feel a responsibility to provide a fair and balanced argument on a topic and then let your students decide for themselves? [OF COURSE I DO. YESTERDAY I DISCUSSED ABOUT 20 SONGS THAT WERE WRITTEN DURING THE VIETNAM WAR. I FAIRLY EVENLY DIVIDED THEM BETWEEN PROWAR AND ANTIWAR SONGS. WHILE I DON'T GIVE ALL OPINIONS ALL THE TIME, I DO IT RATHER FREQUENTLY AND OFTENTIMES DEBATE MYSELF IN CLASS.]
You are doing your students a disservice when you give only one side of the story, which appears to be very radical from some of the articles that I have read. What it all boils down to is, if you hate your country so much, why don't you find a better one. [THIS IS THE OLD LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT APPROACH. I WOULD THINK A COLLEGE STUDENT SHOULD WELCOME DISSENT AND DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS AND NOT DEMAND THEY BE KICKED OUT OF THE COUNTRY OR URGED TO LEAVE. WHAT KIND OF A DEMOCRACY DO YOU WISH TO LIVE IN? ONLY THE KIND THAT VALIDATES AND PROTECTS THOSE WHO AGREE WITH MR DOCKTER?]
Dain DockterProfessor Kirstein concluded his e-mail:
Good luck at Northern Iowa and again, I would be more than happy to come there and address a student group. It might be good for you to be exposed directly to different views from you own and confront me directly in a robust exchange of views.
Peter N. Kirstein, Ph.D.
Professor of History