“I think the political correctness — or non-political correctness — of his views outside the classroom … should not have an impact on whether or not he’s allowed to teach."Political correctness?
The Herald, unlike various local newspapers, calls attention to the political criticism that comes not just from Republican legislators, but from the Democratic governor Jim Doyle, whose spokesperson is quoted as saying, "The governor would have come to a different decision than the university." Presumably, that means Doyle would have fired Barrett. (Doyle is up for reelection this fall.)
Also quoted is Donald Downs, the UW political science professor who is president of the Committee of Academic Freedom and Rights:
Downs said he does not believe Barrett’s theory at all and does not know anybody at the university who does, “left, right or center.”Most amusingly, Barrett himself is quoted, saying he plans to seek a permanent job here at the UW: "After the public realizes I’m right ... my chances of getting a job will be better.”
But despite that fundamental disagreement, Downs said he still supports Barrett’s employment.
“We want professors to be intellectually responsible, but we also want professors to be intellectually honest,” Downs said. “We want the envelope pushed; we want people to stick their necks out if it is done with intellectual integrity. Otherwise it could cause a watered-down education.”
Yeah, I know what you're thinking: he's crazy. I think I know what Farrell is thinking: swathe this loser in academic freedom rhetoric, then hunker down and wait for the semester to end. But meanwhile:
More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East, according to a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll.Don't assume Barrett's ideas are obviously only a crackpot fringe theory. The 9/11 conspiracy theory has the power to propagate.
Suspicions that the 9/11 attacks were "an inside job" ... quickly have become nearly as popular as decades-old conspiracy theories that the federal government was responsible for President John F. Kennedy's assassination and that it has covered up proof of space aliens....I think the university ought to do something big this fall to respond to the situation. If you really care about free speech -- and I think the university does -- you believe that the remedy for bad speech is more speech. I would like the university to present speakers this fall on at least two subjects: 1. Why and how conspiracy theories originate and spread, and 2. Debunking the 9/11 conspiracy theories. In the second category, I would like to see Barrett on the stage with experts in engineering, who would make his lack of expertise very obvious to the audience.
University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster, author of the book "Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture," said the poll's findings reflect public anger at the unpopular Iraq war, realization that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction and growing doubts of the veracity of the Bush administration....
The poll found that a majority of young adults give at least some credence to a 9/11 conspiracy compared to less than a fourth of people 65 or older. Members of racial and ethnic minorities, people with only a high school education and Democrats were especially likely to suspect federal involvement in 9/11.