Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Libel per se

Posted by Ron Coleman on January 25, 2008

college.jpegGlenn Reynolds, writing about the dustup at Brandeis over this letter (“marked up” here):

And I think that false charges of racism aimed at a professor today are like false charges of unchastity or “loathsome disease” aimed at a woman in 1890 — libelous per se.

I like his thinking here a lot. But why only professors?

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2 Responses to “Libel per se”

  1. Jack said

    “The dispute first escalated when the Faculty Senate took up the issue in a November 8 emergency session,”

    Oh no! Emergency session!
    What can be done?!!

    Thank God for Senates!
    And little graces.

    “The Human Resources policies stress the importance of resolving such issues in an ‘informal manner’ with ‘flexible’ solutions. Furthermore, the Provost’s letter to the professor includes reference to ‘termination’ as a possibility if the professor does not accept the suggested remedies. This violates section VIIC2a of the Faculty Handbook: ‘When considering suspension or dismissal, the Provost will first consult with the Faculty Senate Council.’ No such consultation occurred before this letter was delivered.””

    I like flexible and informal as well as the next guy.
    But when you’ve got something of this magnitude it really needs to go straight to the Senate and the internet, where something important can be done about it.
    Maybe even send it to court if this keeps up. The courts after all are what justice is all about.

    I’m torn though by arguments on both sides of this ledger. And that’s what perplexes me most.
    If perplexed I am uncertain, if uncertain, then tell me why?
    Oh please yes, yes, tell me why such bad things happen in a world such as this?

    ““I am committed to academic freedom for our faculty and students, but I am equally committed to the principle that we will not tolerate racially harassing speech,” Krauss wrote.”

    And there you go. You don’t tolerate freedom, you are equally committed to it in principle.
    The important thing is that when speech of any kind is first used, that you then talk about it later. A lot. Because speech is all about talking, and I just wish more academics and administrators understood that. Somebody should write a handbook about that.

    “(Hindley, for his part, has referred to the proceedings as “the Stalin purges.”)”

    It’s true. I hear they are hanging signs in the cafeteria already which read, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter in,” and, “Meatloaf makes free!”

    Whereas this offers little solace for the incredible hardships faced in modern academia, I am still saddened by our loss. Our inability to treat each other civilly and in direct proportionality to our sufferings makes me wonder if nostalgia is not a better option than an insincere and supercilious analogy.
    It’s always extremely hard to say in cases like these.

    ““We must face the possibility that our faculty dispute resolution process is breaking down. The latest conflict with the Provost over jurisdiction, legal interpretations, and complex facts may have entered the stage where further exchanges are futile, or at least too complicated for most faculty colleagues to follow in detail. There is something very serious that is now broken, and the Senate may be the only route for restoring some sense of order.””

    What can we, as a civilized society do?
    Entropy is at the Gates!

    All I can say is, “To arms, to arms!! Upon this hangs all our tomorrows!”

    “What is racial conduct?”

    Isn’t that when you use an illegal fuel to oxygen mixture to give your car an advantage in the turns?

    “I am charged with determining what corrective action shall be taken and/or sanctions imposed”

    It’s funny cause it’s true…

    This whole thing though reminds me of an old, old story.

    Two old blind buzzards are arguing over who gets to eat a sliver of painted balsa wood.
    They both mistook it for a bone.

  2. Fern said

    Add to list “false charges of sexual harassment or assault” and I’m totally on board. How many times have we heard of a man’s career/life being ruined by a woman who falsely claimed he assaulted/harassed her in order to “get back” at him or cover up her own wrongdoing? The accuser doesn’t even need a shred of evidence, only an allegation, and the guy is forever tainted. Rick Neuheisel and the Duke Lacrosse team are perfect examples.

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