Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Philosophy Department on Office Door Censorship: Stonewall

We recently posted about how Marquette’s Philosophy Department has censored a posting on the door of a graduate student.

We have tried repeatedly to get Prof. James South, Chair of the department and the person who tore down the posting to comment. Finally, today, he did respond to our e-mail as follows:
Hello John,

I appreciate your interest in the workings and decisions of the Philosophy Department. I will decline, though, the opportunity to speak with you about this matter.

Best wishes,

Translation: stonewall.

We would have liked to ask him whether the Philosophy Department has any written policy on door postings. Our sources say it doesn’t. Without a written policy and guidelines, any such act of censorship is entirely arbitrary.

We would have liked to have asked him what was “patently offensive” about the quote on graduate student Stuart Ditsler’s door. The quote, remember, said the following:
“As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.”
That’s a pretty straightforward expression of a libertarian philosophy -- although liberals and leftists would entirely agree with it where the War on Terror is concerned.

Might people disagree with this? Absolutely. Is it “patently offensive?” Only in some alternative universe.

The next question would have been: what sort of people would object to this? What sort of people (faculty? graduate students?) think they have a right to take “offense” at political ideas with which they disagree, and then have them censored?

South is unwilling to address any of these questions. It seems that his actions (which presumably had the approval of at least a couple of members of the Executive Committee with whom he conferred) can’t be defended.

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