Joan W. Scott on Civility and Academic Freedom

On March 13, Joan W. Scott, Professor Emerita of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study and a member of AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, delivered a talk on “Civility and Academic Freedom” at a celebration of the AAUP’s centennial held at California State University, East Bay.  That talk has now been expanded and published as an article in the May 4 issue of The Nation.  The article, “The New Thought Police,” discusses the history of the concept of “civility,” offers comments on AAUP’s past engagement with the issue, and includes an analysis of the concept’s abuse today, especially in the Steven Salaita case at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The article is available to non-subscribers and I highly recommend reading it here:

5 thoughts on “Joan W. Scott on Civility and Academic Freedom

  1. In evaluating Reichman’s argument, I would like to call attention to AAUP’s policy about comments appearing above on this page. “They…must not…degrade others…” To me, Salaita’s comments are thus indictable. I believe civility includes listening to those with whom one disagrees. His comments are intended abuses of those with whom he disagrees, and do not see objecting to them on that basis as an attack on academic freedom, which protects reasoned positions, not abusive attacks.

    • I wonder since you avoid mentioning the mass murder of children, whether you would afford a critic of such butchery and violation of non-combatant immunity, the right to violate your standards of politeness and civility. You avoided even an indirect reference to what inspired Dr Salaita’s Tweets during the State of Israel’s aerial bombardment of a defenceless civilian population in a blockaded territory..

  2. I regard academic freedom as protecting the publication of one’s scholarly work, not relevant to issues of general social intercourse. With respect to the latter, I regard civility as important. In dealing with behavior that is criminal it is important to invoke the protections of due process and impartial adjudication, minimizing the dangers of personal bias and mob rule. I deplore both the institutional excesses of war and incivilty.

    • Why is academic freedom only of value for academic publications? What due process and adjudication is supposed to act against Israel’s war crimes?

  3. Pingback: “Je Tweet…!” | The Academe Blog

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