A lawsuit is now inevitable, and it will presumably have a defamation claim added to the constitutional and contractual claims. The Chancellor should resign: she's a disgrace. I again urge other philosophers to join the boycott. It gives me no pleasure to say that, since now the boycott has no end in sight. But the conduct by the Chancellor and the Board is such an egregious violation of the basic norms and integrity of academic institutions, that firm and public action is now imperative.
ADDENDUM: The Board of Trustees is also a disgrace--even in Texas, the Board has not done anything this egregious in a long time:
August 22, 2014
Earlier today, you received a thoughtful statement from Chancellor Phyllis Wise regarding the university’s decision not to recommend Prof. Steven Salaita for a tenured faculty position on the Urbana-Champaign campus.
In her statement, Chancellor Wise reaffirmed her commitment to academic freedom and to fostering an environment that encourages diverging opinions, robust debate and challenging conventional norms. Those principles have been at the heart of the university’s mission for nearly 150 years, and have fueled its rise as a world leader in education and innovation.
But, as she noted, our excellence is also rooted in another guiding principle that is just as fundamental. Our campuses must be safe harbors where students and faculty from all backgrounds and cultures feel valued, respected and comfortable expressing their views.
We agree, and write today to add our collective and unwavering support of Chancellor Wise and her philosophy of academic freedom and free speech tempered in respect for human rights – these are the same core values which have guided this institution since its founding.
In the end, the University of Illinois will never be measured simply by the number of world-changing engineers, thoughtful philosophers or great artists we produce. We also have a responsibility to develop productive citizens of our democracy. As a nation, we are only as strong as the next generation of participants in the public sphere. The University of Illinois must shape men and women who will contribute as citizens in a diverse and multi-cultural democracy. To succeed in this mission, we must constantly reinforce our expectation of a university community that values civility as much as scholarship.
Disrespectful and demeaning speech that promotes malice is not an acceptable form of civil argument if we wish to ensure that students, faculty and staff are comfortable in a place of scholarship and education. If we educate a generation of students to believe otherwise, we will have jeopardized the very system that so many have made such great sacrifices to defend. There can be no place for that in our democracy, and therefore, there will be no place for it in our university.
Chancellor Wise is an outstanding administrator, leader and teacher. Her academic career has been built on her commitment to promoting academic freedom and creating a welcoming environment for students and faculty alike. We stand with her today and will be with her tomorrow as she devotes her considerable talent and energy to serving our students, our faculty and staff, and our society.
We look forward to working closely with Chancellor Wise and all of you to ensure that our university is recognized both for its commitment to academic freedom and as a national model of leading-edge scholarship framed in respect and courtesy.
Christopher G. Kennedy, Chair, University of Illinois Board of Trustees
Robert A. Easter, President
Hannah Cave, Trustee Ricardo Estrada, Trustee Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Trustee Lucas N. Frye, Trustee Karen Hasara, Trustee Patricia Brown Holmes, Trustee Timothy N. Koritz, Trustee Danielle M. Leibowitz, Trustee Edward L. McMillan, Trustee James D. Montgomery, Trustee Pamela B. Strobel, Trustee
Paula Allen-Meares, Chancellor, Chicago campus, and Vice President, University of Illinois Susan J. Koch, Chancellor, Springfield campus, and Vice President, University of Illinois
Donald A. Chambers, Professor of Physiology and Biochemistry; Chair, University Senates Conference
Jerry Bauman, Interim Vice President for Health Affairs Thomas R. Bearrows, University Counsel Thomas P. Hardy, Executive Director for University Relations Susan M. Kies, Secretary of the Board of Trustees and the University Walter K. Knorr, VP/Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller Christophe Pierre, Vice President for Academic Affairs Lawrence B. Schook, Vice President for Research Lester H. McKeever, Jr., Treasurer, Board of Trustees
This story from British Columbia will be of special interest to readers as it involves the wife, Gillian, of the distinguished philosopher Jonathan Bennett. Her website about her decision and her dementia is here; it is worth every reader's time. Her courage and clarity of mind in the face of decline and mortality is a story worth sharing.
Here. (Thanks to Lorna Finlayson for the pointer.)
My own view is that it is not reasonable, or desirable, to expect Israeli academic institutions to adopt positions on questions of national policy (the boycott calls for a "refusal to associate with Israeli academic institutions that have not explicitly condemned the occupation"); the same is true in the U.S. What is known as "the Kalven Report" from 1967, after its lead author, Harry Kalven, a prominent First Amendment scholar at Chicago, got it right:
The instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or the individual student. The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic. It is, to go back once again to the classic phrase, a community of scholars. To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures. A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community. It is a community but only for the limited, albeit great, purposes of teaching and research. It is not a club, it is not a trade association, it is not a lobby.
Since the university is a community only for these limited and distinctive purposes, it is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues of the day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness. There is no mechanism by which it can reach a collective position without inhibiting that full freedom of dissent on which it thrives. It cannot insist that all of its members favor a given view of social policy; if it takes collective action, therefore, it does so at the price of censuring any minority who do not agree with the view adopted. In brief, it is a community which cannot resort to majority vote to reach positions on public issues.
Unfortunately, then, this call for boycott seems to me misconceived, at least as regards academic institutions. The case for an economic boycott of Israel for its crimes is as strong as it has ever been, and only an economic boycott endorsed by significant trading partners will have the desired effects.
Well-above average for a journalist. The only bit that seems to me clearly wrong is that any of this shows the U.S. is "weak"; the U.S. doesn't care (about the suffering in Gaza, about Ukraine etc.), if there were political will to restrain Israel, the U.S. could accomplish it instantly. But otherwise, this piece makes a number of striking points.
Now we have a new term in the professional jargon to convey a similar perspective: “mowing the grass.” This is the name for an approach that entails a new round of fighting every time the Palestinian violence reaches levels Israel finds unacceptable....
No, periodically mowing the lawn is not a policy that can endure for long – it simply will not cut it. The grass needs to be uprooted – once and for all.... The problem can only be solved by entirely abandoning the concept that Gaza should be governed by Palestinian Arabs. Any effective solution must follow this new line of reasoning....
This is truly horrific. Sane and human voices (both in Israel and the U.S.) better make themselves heard, or Israel will really have no future. As on a number of topics, I find that my colleague John Mearsheimer looks prescient (from a lecture in 2010):
Then there is ethnic cleansing, which would certainly mean that Greater Israel would have a Jewish majority. But that murderous strategy seems unlikely, because it would do enormous damage to Israel’s moral fabric, its relationship with Jews in the Diaspora, and to its international standing. Israel and its supporters would be treated harshly by history, and it would poison relations with Israel’s neighbors for years to come. No genuine friend of Israel could support this policy, which would clearly be a crime against humanity. It also seems unlikely, because most of the 5.5 million Palestinians living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean would put up fierce resistance if Israel tried to expel them from their homes.
Nevertheless, there is reason to worry that Israelis might adopt this solution as the demographic balance shifts against them and they fear for the survival of the Jewish state. Given the right circumstances – say a war involving Israel that is accompanied by serious Palestinian unrest – Israeli leaders might conclude that they can expel massive numbers of Palestinians from Greater Israel and depend on the lobby to protect them from international criticism and especially from sanctions.
We should not underestimate Israel’s willingness to employ such a horrific strategy if the opportunity presents itself. It is apparent from public opinion surveys and everyday discourse that many Israelis hold racist views of Palestinians and the Gaza massacre makes clear that they have few qualms about killing Palestinian civilians. It is difficult to disagree with Jimmy Carter’s comment earlier this year that “the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than like human beings.” A century of conflict and four decades of occupation will do that to a people.
Furthermore, a substantial number of Israeli Jews – some 40 percent or more – believe that the Arab citizens of Israel should be “encouraged” to leave by the government. Indeed, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni has said that if there is a two-state solution, she expected Israel’s Palestinian citizens to leave and settle in the new Palestinian state. And then there is the recent military order issued by the IDF that is aimed at “preventing infiltration” into the West Bank. In fact, it enables Israel to deport tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank should it choose to do so. And, of course, the Israelis engaged in a massive cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and again in 1967. Still, I do not believe Israel will resort to this horrible course of action.
[Israel] has what seems on the surface a justifiable objective of ending these attacks, the rockets that come from Gaza and are aimed—it’s hard to say they’re aimed at civilians, because they never seem to land anywhere that causes serious damage, but they could and would have, if not for luck. So, on the face of it, Israel has a right to do what it’s doing now, and, of course, it’s been affirmed by even president of the United States, repeatedly, that no country would agree to live with that kind of a threat repeatedly hanging over it.
But what he doesn’t add, and what perverts this principle, undermines the principle, is that no country and no people would live the way Gazans have been made to live. And consequently, this moral equation which puts Israel on top as the victim that has to act to prevent its situation from continuing that way, and the Palestinians in Gaza, or Hamas, the organization responsible for Gaza, who are the attackers, our media rarely ever points out that these are people who have a right to live a decent, normal life, too. And they, too, must think, "What can we do to put an end to this?"
And this is why in the Politicoarticle that you mentioned, I pointed out the question of the morality of Israel’s action depends, in the first instance, on the question: Couldn’t Israel be doing something in preventing this disaster that is playing out now, in terms of the destruction of human lives? Couldn’t they have done something that didn’t require that cost? And the answer is: Sure, that they could have ended the occupation, with results—whatever the risks are, they certainly aren’t greater than the price being paid now for Israel’s effort to continue and sustain permanently their relationship to the Palestinians.
...expressing the hope that his students and their friends and families are not among the victims of the violent conflict in Gaza and the surrounding areas. The Dean at Bar-Ilan, whose reaction is quoted at the link, is a disgrace.
There is a news account here; I have not seen the opinion, so am only going on this account (though it strikes me as plausible, given what I know about the local judiciary). The result is a case study in what is wrong with American defamation law, and helps explain why our media, including our cyber-media, are such cesspools of falsehoods and garbage.
Consider: a student accuses Jon of groping her breasts and buttocks; Jon's behavior is both wrongful and illegal--it is both tortious and criminal. The newspapers, however, report that Jon is accused of "rape," which is defined in most jurisdictions as non-consensual penetration of the vagina or anus of another person, or non-consensual contact between the genitals of one person and the mouth, vagina or anus of another (this is not, however, the precise definition in Illinois, which probably helped the defendants here). Legal definitions aside, everyone knows that being accused of non-consensual groping is not as heinous as being accused of rape. Even the defendants know that, since they revised their original misdescription of the allegations and removed the word "rape"!
So what really explains this outcome? Two things: first, American libel law provides enormous cover for egregious misrepresentations of any topic that might be deemed of "public" interest" (in almost every other Western democracy whose libel law I am familiar with, Ludlow's case against the newspaper would have been a slam dunk); and second, and this is really crucial, the local judges in the Chicago state courts are, I have been told, mostly graduates of non-elite law schools and have contempt for elite academics. Judge Flanagan, who handed down this decision, graduated from John Marshall here in Chicago, a regional school that ranks well behind other very good regional schools in Chicago like Loyola/Chicago, Chicago-Kent and DePaul. I do not know Judge Flanagan, but I am familiar with the general problem. A couple of years ago, I was considering bringing a defamation action that would have to be filed in the local state courts in Chicago (rather than the federal courts), but I was advised by a Chicago lawyer with considerable experience in these matters that the local Chicago judges would view with skepticism and contempt any such lawsuit by a University of Chicago professor. I am, like any experienced lawyer, a legal realist, that is, I know that non-legal factors have a significant influence on outcomes in the court. This is yet another case in point.
I should emphasize, given the general level of insanity surrounding this whole issue, that everything I have written above about Ludlow's lawsuit against the newspapers is correct even if every actual allegation against Ludlow by the student is correct.
UPDATE: I respect the important work philosopher Heidi Lockwood has done to assist victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and have benefitted in the past from her knowledge of Title IX. Her intervention on this particular issue is, however, confused and irrelevant. Rape is always a kind of sexual assault, but not all sexual assaults are a kind of rape, and this is true even in jurisdictions that do not use the term "rape" but define sexual assault in terms of degree, with rape always being first-degree (i.e., not all sexual assaults are first-degree sexual assault). The latter is the only issue here, not the former. More to the point, Illinois defines rape as "criminal sexual assault" involving "sexual penetration," the latter defined as follows:
Means any contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person and an object or the sex organ, mouth, or anus of another person, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of the body of one person or of any animal or object into the sex organ or anus of another person, including, but not limited to, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anal penetration. Evidence of emission of semen is not required to prove sexual penetration.
There was never an allegation of sexual penetration against Ludlow by the undergraduate student, so there was never an allegation of criminal sexual assault, i.e., rape. Defendant Sun-Times recognized this once contacted by Ludlow's attorney: that is why they revised their headline, removing the word "rape" and replacing it with "sexual assault." In other words, defendant newspaper recognized the meanings were different. Judge Flanagan, according to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, found that the "the defamation and false light claim...fail on the basis of the fair-report privilege":
That privilege protects a publisher of defamatory matter when the matter fairly and accurately summarizes statements in public documents or proceedings at official public meetings, such as court documents or hearings.
“There is a fair abridgment of a proceeding where the sting of the defamatory statement in the proceeding is the same as a sting of the defamatory report,” Flanagan wrote. “The hallmark of the privilege is the accuracy of the summary, not the truth or falsity of the information being summarized.”
The only question, in other words, is whether the "sting" of being accused of rape is the same as the "sting" of being accused of sexual assault (not criminal sexual assault). The Sun-Times did not think so, but the Judge did. The most plausible explanation I can think of for so finding is bias against the plaintiff on the part of the judge--a bias consistent with what I have been told by a lawyer with twenty years of experience of litigating defamation cases in Cook County courts (where Judge Flanagan sits). More generally, American libel law tends to err on the side of sacrificing the plaintiff's reputation in the alleged interest of the "public"--the fair-report privilege, as applied in this instance, is an example. That line of law began with New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964, but it was Sullivan's progeny that adopted the foolishly capacious approach to "public figures" and "public interest." (Interestingly, when I ran a poll of law faculty on the 50th anniversary of Sullivan, the vast majority thought Sullivan itself rightly decided, but a majority thought its legacy had not been a good one, which is my own view as well.)
ANOTHER: Prof. Lockwood's additional reply. Most of the latter is non-responsive, so I will keep it brief. That some victims of sexual assault experience it as being as bad as rape (undoubtedly true) is irrelevant to Ludlow's defamation action, unless it were the case that the population generally shares that view (undoubtedly false). For unless both kinds of sex crimes are viewed as equally heinous generally, being falsely accused of rape will still constitute per se libel. In addition, as pointed out here, Prof. Lockwood has misrepresented one of her central examples, the law in Ohio.
He appeals to anybody who is sincerely concerned about Israel’s safety and security to join him in telling Israelis the truth in plain language. “A real friend does not pick up the bill for an addict’s drugs: he packs the friend off to rehab instead. Today, only those who speak up against Israel’s policies – who denounce the occupation, the blockade, and the war – are the nation’s true friends.” The people who defend Israel’s current course are “betraying the country” by encouraging it on “the path to disaster. A child who has seen his house destroyed, his brother killed, and his father humiliated will not easily forgive.”
It is testimony to the remaining vibrancy of public debate in Israel that Levy can serve as a columnist with the country's most important newspaper; in the U.S., of course, he would long ago been driven to the margins by Abe Foxman, Alan Dershowitz, and the other smear merchants of the Israeli right.
UPDATE: Enoch's reply to Bell has been added at the link, as well as a link to an English version of the document where Prof. Bell does indeed defend the legal permissibility of "gross immoralities," as Prof. Enoch said originally.
An interesting development; hopefully similar efforts will be made in the U.S. to reverse our insane penal policies. (The Committee responsible for the report was Chaired by the distinguished philosopher of criminal law R.A. Duff [Stirling/Minnesota].)
Many readers have sent version of this story about the fraud Zizek. All I have to say is that if it isn't true, then the white supremacist has a strong libel case against those who made the accusation.
UPDATE: Zizek's reply. It's good to know he can express himself clearly and directly when the charge of plagiarism is at issue. (Thanks to Steven Gross for the pointer.)
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)