I'm a longtime reader of your Leiter Reports. I have noticed that of late you have been tracking a trend in our society wherein some hypocritical notion of civility is used as an excuse to suppress speech. I therefore thought you might be interested in this piece of news I happened across today: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/police-637903-meeting-hat.html. In short, a city council meeting was cancelled and attendants (who refused to leave) were threatened with arrest because someone was wearing a hat that read "Fuck the Police" (it was deemed "offensive" and "disrespectful"). The most unsettling thing about this situation is that the Mayor of Santa Ana, the Mayor Pro Tem, and the Chief of Police all seem to have no idea that any constitutional rights were violated here--that is, these people who have the law in their hands have no inkling of even very basic constitutional law. On the other hand, this earlier article on this event (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/police-637732-council-meeting.html) is a little more reassuring, since it shows that at least the people know their rights and are willing to subject themselves to intimidation and threats of arrest in order to stand up for the free speech rights of a complete stranger (and a "disrespectful" one at that). Let's hope they don't sign a kindness pledge.
There is a video of my introducing Salaita at University of Chicago the other night, and on the right-hand side you'll see links to videos of Salaita's talk at Northwestern, which I am told was essentially the same as the talk at U of C (I watched only a bit of it, and that seems right). That talk is in several parts, starting here. There's also a brief news video about the case from what I am told is a pro-Palestinian on-line news service.
(Thanks to John Dworkin and Jonah Rubin for the various links.)
MOVING TO FRONT FROM SEPT. 24--PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING
...with donations to support his legal case. I have donated and would urge others to do so. My understanding is that if legal fees are recouped, donated money will go to the Center for Constitutional Rights, a worthy organization that has been helping Salaita since this started.
This is a more informative piece than I've seen previously, and fits with much that we discussed earlier, including the possibility of defamation claims. One new possible claim is for tortious interference with contract, a claim that might also be brought against those donors who pressured the University to fire Salaita. (Readers my age or older may recall the most famous [or infamous] tortious intereference with contract case in modern times, Penzoil v. Texaco, won by legendary [and legendarily ferocious] Texas plaintiffs' lawyer Joe Jamail. [Just as an amusing sidenote, this video of Jamail taking a deposition often makes the rounds--Jamail is off camera on the right, you can only occasionally see his hands.)
I'm just returned from that event, and it appears they were taping it, so if it's on-line subsequently I will post a link. Prof. Salaita was, in person, exactly as he seemed at his Urbana-Champaign press conference: friendly, warm, and admirably composed and cheerful considering the terrible ordeal of persecution he has been through. The real person is a powerful counterweight to the campaign of demonization to which he has been subjected. It clearly helps that he has a strong sense of moral purpose. My introductory remarks to the event, for anyone who is interested, are below the fold (nothing surprising for those who have followed my Huffington Post columns):
Benj Hellie (Toronto) wrote to the researchers mentioned in Wednesday's story about fields in which women are under- and over-represented among doctoral recipients to inquire "where Philosophy falls in the ranking of the 'Gender Imbalance' paper." One of the researchers, Courtney Tannenbaum, wrote back and gave permission to share her response:
Thank you for your interest in the paper. I shared your inquiry with Andrew [Gillen] who led the analysis for the brief. He shared he following with me, which I hope answers your question:
The best CIP code for Philosophy is probably 38.01, which has the figures below:
This shows a bit of over-representation of men. Relative to other fields, it was 80 out of 135 fields when ranked from least to most male over-representation.
Interesting, and somewhat surprising, data here. (The data for "Law" is a bit misleading, since hardly anyone gets a doctoral degree in law anymore, and those that do come overwhelmingly from foreign countries--though it is consistent with my anecdotal evidence that those who do the SJD [as it is usually called] are disproportionately male; the J.D. is typically the highest degree for most lawyers (and law professors), and female/male enrollment for the JD is getting close to around 50-50 nationwide.)
Earlier today (Monday, September 22), the executive officers representing fourteen UIUC departments having previously voted no confidence in members of the university's administration issued the following joint statement:
In the wake of the Board of Trustees' failure to reinstate Steven Salaita on September 11, 2014, we reaffirm our votes of no confidence in the Chancellor, the President, and the Board of Trustees. We remain ever more committed to academic freedom, to due process, and to recognition of the expertise of faculty as the foundation of the university. We call on the Senate to allow a full and fair investigation of the case.
A copy of the statement signed by all fourteen executive officers was delivered to the chair of the Senate Executive Committee at today's meeting of the Senate.
The signatories were:
Ronald Bailey, Head, Department of African American Studies Antoinette Burton, Interim Head, Department of Sociology Stephanie Foote, Chair, Department of Gender and Women's Studies Jonathan Xavier Inda, Chair, Department of Latina/Latino Studies Lilya Kaganovsky, Director, Program in Comparative and World Literature Marcus Keller, Head, Department of French and Italian Diane Koenker, Chair, Department of History Andrew Orta, Head, Department of Anthropology David Price, Head, Department of Religion Junaid Rana, Acting Head, Asian American Studies Michael Rothberg, Head, Department of English Kirk Sanders, Chair, Department of Philosophy Robert Warrior, Director, American Indian Studies Gary Xu, Head, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
The letter is here. I note that, finally, some faculty from engineering, physics, and math (among other STEM fields) are finally showing signs of life on this issue, and are among the signatories to the letter. Some of them presumably realize that if the Board of Trustees believe they can get away with summary dismissal of tenured faculty for offensive tweets about Israel, faculty in every field are at risk.
David Velleman (NYU) last week called my attention to this item about the vicious racist and sexist abuse to which the Illinois Chancellor, Phyllis Wise, was subjected on social media last Winter after deciding not to cancel classes on a particularly bitter winter day. No disciplinary measures were taken against any of the students; as reported in Slate: "A spokeswoman said that the campus judicial officer looked at the tweets and determined they were protected free expression, and so no attempt is planned to punish those who tweeted." Of course, the students could have been subject to discipline had they disrupted classes with such racist and sexist abuse. But they didn't: they used Twitter. And the university spokeswoman got it exactly right as a matter of the law.
Interesting item in IHE, addressing an issue I had not seen addressed elsewhere.
UPDATE: Philosopher Alan Weir (Glasgow) writes (he informs me that he is a member of "Academics for Yes," a pro-independence group, but that he here speaks in his personal capacity):
Mr. Marsicano’s piece on independence and Scottish Higher Education doesn’t get off to a great start, rounding up the Scottish population from 5.3 million to 6 million. Mr Marsicano states that Scotland received 13.1% of UK Funding versus 9% contribution to tax funding (Scottish population is 8.3% of the UK). The UK government document he quotes actually says:
"In 2012-13 Scottish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) secured £257 million of UK Research Council grants (excluding Research Council institutes and infrastructure). This represents 13.1 per cent of the UK total"
But then goes on:
"Including Research Council funding (including grants, studentships and fellowships and spending on infrastructure), Scotland secured £307 million (10.7 per cent of the UK total)."
A somewhat different picture. The tax contribution in 2012-13 is actually 9.1% to be more precise (lower than normal because of tax breaks to encourage increases in oil exploration) but more importantly the presentation of the statistics fits in with the usual unionist line that Scots have been subsidised by the rest of the UK. This unionist claim is an egregiously false one. Over the last five years, Scotland has contributed 9.5% of UK tax revenue but received 9.3% of UK public expenditure, a fiscal transfer from Scotland to the rest of the UK (rUK) equivalent to about £8.3 billion, or about £1,600 per person. If one goes further back, e.g. to the oil boom of the 80s, Scotland was subsidising Margaret Thatcher’s government to the tune of 45% of its non-oil GDP per year. Can’t imagine Canadians being happy about transferring a tax windfall equivalent to nearly half of their non-oil GDP to the US.
Moreover the difference between Scotland’s research funding ‘tax contribution share’ and the 10.7% funding last year was around £46 million, under one thirtieth of one per cent of Scottish GDP. We’d be perfectly happy to make up such a difference should it occur in any particular year, as part of a combined Scottish/Republic of Ireland/rest of UK research framework. Scottish unionists, however, might not be keen on expanding the already existing joint funding arrangements between the UK and Ireland as they tend to be ‘Little Britishers’ and lack the outward-looking civic nationalism of Scottish nationalists. But I don’t think this view is widely shared in England where not only cooperation with our immediate neighbours but EU funding is becoming ever more important. As to Scottish membership of the EU, Mr. Marsicano would be better listening to constitutional lawyers such as Prof. Douglas-Scott, Professor of European and Human Rights Law at Oxford University (Legal Research Paper Series No. XXX July 2014) than a politician such as Barruso, almost certainly primed by the UK government to advance the unionist campaign (known internally as ‘Project Fear’ and replete with scare stories on pensions, demolished by the UK Government’s own Department of Works and Pensions, unsubstantiated claims of intimidation of universities by Scottish Government ministers which the author here repeats and much much more).
One also has to consider the prospects for UK funding if Scotland says no to independence and continues to subordinate its parliament to a parliament answerable to an electorate 84% of whom are English. UK research and science budgets are already being cut. The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) has noted that “the cumulative erosion of the ring-fenced science budget will be over £1.1bn from the beginning of SR10 period up to 15/16”. A No vote would mean a substantial reduction in funds available for universities in Scotland because of the further planned cuts of £25 billion in UK public sector funding plus further reductions to the Scottish budget through the reform or abolition of the Barnett formula which governs half of Scottish public expenditure. Fuelled by the myth of the Scots as subsidy junkies there is almost universal agreement in England that Scottish public expenditure must be drastically reduced and the proposed enhanced devolution powers in the event of no to independence provide a perfect opportunity to do this.
Finally, the anti-immigration policies of the British government are widely recognised in the UK higher education sector as posing a serious threat to universities, whereas the party in power in the Scottish Government, the Scottish National Party, has repeatedly said it wishes to increase immigration into Scotland and use the wider powers of an independent government to bring this about.
I’ve written at far too much length on all these matters at
[A]ny lawsuit by Mr. Salaita probably would hinge on the question of whether he was entitled to the academic-freedom and free-speech protections of the university’s faculty members. The answer to that probably will come down to contract law and whether he had gained any employee protections by virtue of being offered a job.
This simply isn't correct: Mr. Salaita's free speech claims do not depend on whether there was a contract making him a faculty member, as I wrote previously. The absence of a contract will also not block his recovery on promissory estoppel grounds.
Now, as we noted previously, there are good reasons to think Salaita was, in fact, a tenured member of the faculty when summarily terminated in August, and that will certainlty guarantee his victory in court. It's also worth calling attention to the fact that Robin Kar, a law professor at the University of Illinois (and a teacher and scholar of contracts, as well as legal philosophy), has come to a similar conclusion.
The University's legal position is wholly untenable; more to the point, as a retired Illinois judge observed, Salaita's lawsuit will survive a motion to dismiss. Let me make clear why this is a significant fact about the legal posture of the cse. If Salaita files a lawsuit, the University will move to dismiss it essentially on the grounds that it states no colorable legal claims, even accepting the facts as alleged by Salaita. For a defendant in a lawsuit, that is always the happiest outcome, but Illinois will not be so lucky, since Salaita has multiple colorable claims, constitutional and contractual. Once a lawsuit survives the motion to dismiss, things change: now the plaintiff is entitled to "discovery" (to collect facts pertinent to his or her case). As I wrote to one of the lawyer/Trustees last week:
[A]s a practical matter of litigation strategy, some or all of Salaita’s contractual and constitutional claims are going to survive a motion to dismiss, at which point his lawyers are going to have a field day in discovery, going through e-mail accounts, minutes of meetings, telephone records etc. All the names of alumni and donors who may have written to the Chancellor will become matters of public record as well. Besides being costly, this whole affair is going to be potentially very embarrassing for a distinguished university.
The University will never let this happen: it will be humiliating, and cost a lot of people their jobs, including Chancellor Wise and Chairman Kennedy of the Board of Trustees. All the behind-the-scenes shenanigans will be aired for public consumption, and the main actors here will be revealed, as I said early on, unfit to run a serious research university. So once Salaita survives the motion of dismiss, he will have considerable power to dictate the terms of a settlement.
Here. It's notable, among other things, for airing doubts about the "civility" nonsense, and for actually putting some of the now notorious "tweets" in a pertinent context--Twitter, for the obvious reasons, lends itself to cherry-picking for malevolent purposes. It is also quite candid about the lobbying the University was subjected to by pro-Israel students and alumni.
...meaning a lawsuit is now inevitable. Kudos to one of the two lawyers on the Board, James Montgomery, for voting in favor of the appointment. No public statements yet, but I'll add links when they appear.
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)