Academic Freedom

Erin O’Connor talks of academic freedom and William Ayers in an article that begins:

Academic freedom does not mean “freedom from criticism.” But there are a lot of academics who would like it to mean that–and who respond to public criticism with cries that the criticism threatens academic freedom. The cries have grown especially loud since 9/11. Remember, for example, Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch? This was an effort to publish the names and dossiers of academics whose public statements suggested that they were apologists for terror. It drew loud, angry protests from within academe, the word “McCarthyism” was much in the air, and the episode was defined by many as a threat to academic freedom. Of course, it was nothing of the kind. It was unwise and ill-advised–you don’t create meaningful reform of academia by targeting individuals, and you do encourage a mob mentality that serves no one well. But it was not a threat to academic freedom.

Public criticism of academics cannot, by definition, threaten academic freedom….