A Modest Victory in the Struggle Against Academic Fecklessness

24 December 2012, 1250 EST

The URI administration has issued a new statement:


What to make of this?

On the one hand, I don’t think anybody will buy the claim that (1) Erik is at fault for “not making clear that he was speaking solely as an individual” and (2) that this failure provided the “rationale for our original statement.” The URI administration doesn’t go far enough in terms of redressing the most offensive part of the earlier, rushed response: its implicit characterization of Erik’s comments as “acts or threats of violence.”

On the other hand… I’ll just outsource the “other hand” to Corey Robin:

The statement is weaselly and certainly doesn’t convey any deep understanding of the issues at stake. But in my experience, this is most definitely a victory. We are dealing with university administrators, remember. So the university gives itself a bullshit face-saving way out of its own embarrassment (paragraph one) yet affirms the basic right of faculty to speak out — even in what it considers to be an intemperate fashion — and affirms that that freedom is central to its mission (paragraph 2). The latter was very much in doubt less than a week ago; it no longer is. I count that as a win.

In sum: something of an early Christmas gift to the forces of truth, justice, and the academic way.