Academic freedom for me, but not for thee
Jan 16, 2015
Bishop Hill in Academia, Climate: Mann, FOI

When Chris Horner was trying to get hold of Michael Mann's emails, the academic establishment moved heaven and earth to ensure that everybody knew where they stood on the question, namely that exposure of an Mann's emails would be an affront to academic freedom. The legal establishment seemed to concur.

Strangely, however, it seems that if an academic is suspected of having (whisper it) free-market sensibilities then exposure of their emails is no longer an affront at all.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) stood by professors in the Wisconsin and Virginia cases, publicly criticizing broad requests for emails on politically charged issues as an assault on academic freedom.

The association hasn’t issued a statement this time around, which has drawn criticism from writers at some conservative publications and blogs, who accuse the organization of being hypocritical. 

In a post on the independent blog of Academe Magazine, which is published by the AAUP, John K. Wilson says the AAUP has always recommended that open-records requests be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some pose a threat to professors' academic freedom, but some could reveal violations of academic freedom or standards, said Wilson, who is a co-editor of the blog and a member of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

Recalling Jonathan Haidt's observation that the hostility of the majority of social scientists to colleagues suspected of being free-market liberals or conservatives has damaged the credibility of their specialism, it is hard not to conclude that the credibility of the whole American education system will soon be at stake as well.

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