In Spring 2006 one of my "Theories of Religion" students invited the class to a panel discussion sponsored by the Center for the Study of Ethics and Human Values, entitled "Free Speech: Is It Possible, Is It Even Allowed?" The student specifically mentioned the difficulties faced by conservatives with "politically correct" speech codes, calling to mind a recent controversy over an essay published on a faculty website defending "homophobia." The faculty member was determined to have the right, and actually encouraged by the University, to publish controversial views as a "public intellectual." Why was this ever in doubt? (Please see WUSTL statement on personal Web page guidelines)

Shortly after September 11, 2001, a colleague sent an email to a newspaper, criticizing American jingoism and flag-waving. Angry alumni threatened to cut off their support of the University. This professor's right to free speech was upheld, but he had to defend his views on a public panel, perhaps a punitive measure (or so it seemed to some). Why was this ever an issue? [This professor was later denied tenure, in spite of an excellent publication and teaching record]

A day after September 11, 2001, I received a communication from one of the Deans, regarding alleged "targeting" of a specific group in my "Fundamentalisms East and West" course proposal. I had to delete a line welcoming fundamentalists to my class, and I had the first few lines of my course description rewritten, in accord with this University's multiculturalist ideology. I agreed to this, and was thanked for my "cooperation," only to discover later, to my dismay, that the short version of my course descripton had been written entirely by someone else. I had submitted to censorship.

Washington University claims that it has a right and a duty to limit certain kinds of political speech on campus, following its "neutrality policy," part of its original charter. (please see "University neutrality limits discourse," Student Life, 11/6/06), Political advocacy is prohibited. Why then did Chancellor Wrighton send a letter to the entire University in Autumn 2006, urging us all to vote for Amendment 2, allowing stem cell research? (Please see "Wrighton's advocacy crosses the line", Student Life, 11/1/06). Isn't the so-called "neutrality policy" selectively enforced, like so many other University policies? If Citizen Wrighton can freely express his opinions, in our name, why can't we all do so?

In Autumn 2003 I included an extra question on my discussion sheet for the Freshmen Reading Program, asking my students if they thought that Lecturers with year-to-year contracts really have free speech. A very good question...

On 'February 12, 2005, at 3:43 pm, I posted to Telesis, Washington University's online discussion forum, a post containing the following line: "I work for, and you pay tuition to, what my father would call a scab university." (Please see complete posting). Within a couple of hours all my course Telesis sites were blocked, with a big red warning message, referring ominously to the University's judicial code. Apparently, either an electronic "union-busting" gopher, or perhaps more likely, a stalking colleague (you know who you are, and I think I do too), had detected this reference. All my Telesis sites were censored for a few hours.

"Scab" is labor movement slang for one who crosses a picket line, to break a strike. I have a right to say "scab." Why was this ever in doubt? Why do we have to think twice about speaking freely? What kind of country are we becoming?

I have a right, perhaps a duty, to say "scab." I am "on strike" now, which for me means I work harder than ever, for my students only. If you cross our picket line, you are free to call yourself:

Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab.Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab.Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab.Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab.Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab.Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab.Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab. Scab.

Let's exercise our right to speak and think freely, or risk losing these rights. Let's not submit to censorship, even for a few hours.


(Please see "Non-Union Benefits" Letter)
(Pleas see
Cast the Money-Changers Out of the Temple)