"There is no question that Mr. Barrett holds personal opinions that many people find unconventional," Farrell says. "These views are expected to take a small, but significant, role in the class. To the extent that his views are discussed, Mr. Barrett has assured me that students will be free - and encouraged - to challenge his viewpoint."...This is almost surely the best way to deal with the reality that Barrett was already hired. What really matters is the larger problem of why he was hired in the first place. The announcement doesn't allow us to see how Farrell is handling that.
"I am satisfied that Mr. Barrett appreciates his responsibility as an instructor. I also believe that he will attempt to provide students with a classroom experience that respects and welcomes open dialogue on all topics," Farrell says. "And I fully expect that the vast majority of his teaching will involve aspects of Islamic culture and religion wholly unrelated to his controversial views of the events of 9/11, which we know had a profound impact on the world and many members of our campus community."
"It is in cases like this - difficult cases involving unconventional ideas - that we define our principles and determine our future," Farrell adds. "Instead of restricting politically unpopular speech, we will take our cue from the bronze plaque in front of Bascom Hall that calls for the 'continual and fearless sifting and winnowing' of ideas."I would like to see some "continual and fearless" judgment about who should be given the opportunity to amass the pile of material that students are assigned to sift and winnow.
(My earlier posts about the Barrett matter are here and here and here.)
UPDATE: Well, as long as we're sifting and winnowing and coming up with unconventional, speculative notions about the nefarious ways of government, let me throw out a question for you to apply your critical thinking to. How do we know Kevin Barrett is not a government agent? Wouldn't it be a pretty brilliant scheme to set up someone to teach this 9/11 theory at this university and see which students take the course? Your average, ordinary student will simply shun this horror. So who will take the course? Wouldn't the roster make a good list for the CIA?