Tennessee is one of several states where a so-called "academic bill of rights" measure has been introduced in the legislature (House Bill 432
; Senate Bill 1117
). These measures, being pushed by right wingnut David Horowitz (Frontpagemag.com
) and a group called Students for Academic Freedom
, are aimed at reining in what they see as some sort of vast left-wing tyranny in academia.
Horowitz and his disciples are fond of exaggeration as a persuasive tactic. They like to tell the story of a Colorado college student who on a test was asked to explain why George Bush is a war criminal, who instead wrote an essay on why Saddam Hussein was a war criminal, and who received an F for it. As this story
yesterday from Inside Higher Ed
explains, the facts of the case are just a wee bit different:
...while a Northern Colorado spokeswoman acknowledged Monday that a complaint had been filed, she also said that the test question was not the one described by Horowitz, the grade was not an F, and there were clearly non-political reasons for whatever grade was given. And the professor who has been held up as an example of out-of-control liberal academics? In an interview last night, he said that he's a registered Republican.
Horowitz has apologized for not checking out the story and getting the facts right, but he insists the test question was nonetheless loaded and an inappropriate form of academic indoctrination. Here is the dastardly test question that shows an out-of-control intellectual left tearing at the fabric of academic integrity:
The American government campaign to attack Iraq was in part based on the assumptions that the Iraqi government has 'Weapons of Mass Destruction.' This was never proven prior to the U.S. police action/war and even President Bush, after the capture of Baghdad, stated, 'we may never find such weapons.' Cohen's research on deviance discussed this process of how the media and various moral entrepreneurs and government enforcers can conspire to create a panic. How does Cohen define this process? Explain it in-depth. Where does the social meaning of deviance come from? Argue that the attack on Iraq was deviance based on negotiable statuses. Make the argument that the military action of the U.S. attacking Iraq was criminal.
The Tennessee legislature should reject out of hand Horowitz's McCarthyist crusade.