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Defining academic freedom2 min read

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Just so everyone is clear. It is perfectly okay to teach that “9-11 was probably an American operation to launch a war on Islam countries.”

An instructor at UW-Madison is perfectly clear to teach that “9/11 was an inside job.” That is academic freedom at its finest.

According to Patrick Farrell the Provost of UW-Madison: “We cannot allow political pressure from critics of unpopular ideas to inhibit the free exchange of ideas. That classroom interaction is central to this university’s mission and to the expansion of knowledge. Silencing that exchange now would only open the door to more onerous and sweeping restrictions.”

The ACLU is happy, saying that “”controversial speech, especially controversial political speech, deserves protection from government censorship.”

The organization representing faculty and staff in the UW system is happy: “We are glad the administration is defending the principle of academic freedom and free exchange of ideas that we need on all the UW campuses.”

The Board of Regents President David Walsh is happy, saying this decision “”balanc[ed] the issues regarding academic freedom with the assurance that there will be open dialogue.”

And of course, the teacher, Kevin Barrett, is happy: “”It’s a great day for academic freedom and freedom of speech.”

No word yet on when UW-Madison plans to start teaching a class in support of Intelligent Design since they value the principle of academic freedom so much and want to expose their student to “controversial speech,” “unpopular ideas” and the “free exchange of ideas.”

I’m also holding my breath for an instructor to teach their students that Christianity is actually true or that Muslim terrorism is wrong. I assume that will be on next semester’s course offerings in the free and diverse world of UW-Madison.