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August 15, 2006

Ohio Public Universities Ask Would-Be Professors: Have You Ever Belonged To Or Supported A Terrorist Organization?

...as defined by the US Department of State.

Of course, the academics are in a tizzy about this. "The right to free speech" includes, it seems, "the right to freely incite and abet murder."

The form was created this year by Ohio law and applies to all new employees of state agencies. The universities that are starting to have new employees fill out the forms say that they are just following the law. But the American Association of University Professors says that the forms are even broader than McCarthy-era loyalty oaths, are unconstitutional, and “gravely” threaten academic freedom.

Academic freedom does not negate laws against providing "material assitance" to a terrorist organization. That's a serious felony, and if you've committed a major felony, that ought to be in the mix of hiring decisions.

In a letter sent to the president of the University of Akron, one of the institutions starting to use the forms, the AAUP said that asking potential faculty members to certify that they have never provided any help to any such group threatens “a broad range of clearly protected free speech and academic freedom.” The letter was sent on the AAUP’s behalf by Robert M. O’Neil, a professor of law at the University of Virginia and director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

No, it actually doesn't. Does the "broad range of clearly protected free speech" include murdering your wife?

No?

Then why should it include providing material assistance to a State Department certified terrorist group?

...

The new form asks potential employees six questions and any “Yes” answer is grounds for not getting the job. Refusing to answer a question is also considered an affirmative answer. The questions are:

* Are you a member of an organization on the U.S. Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List?

* Have you used any position of prominence you have with any country to persuade others to support an organization on the U.S. Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List?


* Have you knowingly solicited fund or other things of value for an organization on the U.S. Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List?


* Have you solicited any individual for membership in an organization on the U.S. Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List?


* Have you committed an act that you know, or reasonably should have known, affords “material support or resources” to an organization on the U.S. Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List?


* Have you hired or compensated a person you knew to be a member of an organization on the U.S. Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List, or a person you knew to be engaged in planning, assisting or carrying out an act of terrorism?

There is a provision for appealing a job denial related to refusing to fill out the form. However, the form required for an appeal asks many of the same questions in different ways. For example, to file an appeal, one would need to answer the question “to which organization on the Terrorist Exclusion List was material assistance provided?”

Academic groups have long opposed job requirements that include questions of the “are you now or have you ever been a member” variety. O’Neil of the AAUP said that the Ohio forms were more dangerous in some ways than those of the McCarthy era because the new requirements “are vaguer than those of the earlier era.”

McCarthyism is always the worst thing, eveh, until someone does something new, in which case the new thing becomes the worst thing eveh.

Many professors who would never help a terrorist group in any way would balk at answering questions such as these, which could be subject to interpretation or be used against professors who hold unpopular views. He also noted that there is not always broad agreement on which groups are terroristic and that asking professors whom they have persuaded to hold certain views is antithetical to academic values in many ways.

There doesn't need to be "broad agreement" on which groups are terroristic. There is a lawful arbiter giving a bright-line list: the State Department.

This is really not open for discussion. One can argue whether some organizations should be on the list, but it is inarguable that these organizations are on the list.

...

O’Neil of the AAUP said that the association would also protest to any other Ohio universities found to be having new faculty members fill out the forms. He noted a series of court cases rejecting loyalty oaths in various forms, and said that while he agrees that universities must follow the law, there is more to that than just going along. “A concerned administrator might in a case of uncertain application and constitutional doubt such as the one seek clarification, including a ruling by the state’s attorney general,” he said.

It's not a loyatly oath. It's a legitimate inquiry into illegal behavior.

In 1970, O’Neil recalled, when John Millett was chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, he told legislators that he didn’t have time to appoint the hearing officers needed to carry out a law that was passed — to the dismay of many academics — to make it easier for public universities to kick out students who engaged in protests. The law wasn’t enforced, O’Neil said, in part because university administrators stood up for principles. “A simple administrative mandate should not end the matter,” he said of the current situation.

Blowing up planes and schools, or providing material assistance to those who do, is not a "protest." It is mass-murder and a grave felonly.

Another flaw in the new law, he said, is that it won’t work. Would a terrorist committed to mass murder really lose sleep over giving a false answer on an Ohio form? “Real terrorists are not going to be deterred by this. If you have someone bent on infiltrating a state agency, it’s not going to do anything,” he said. All the new form does, he added, is create problems for “conscientious academics.

It will serve as grounds for dismissal when the misrepresentation is exposed.

It's amusing. They always get worked up into a lather about these things before playing their final (weak) card, "It won't work anyway. No one will admit to this."

Well, fine. If it won't work, if people will just ignore it, then what is the problem, precisely?

Thanks to Slublog, who says he's not generally a fan of these sorts of oaths.

But employers have a right to know if their would-be employees have broken major laws in the past, and if they are currently breaking major laws at the moment.

People seem to forget. The laws against conspiring to commit acts of violence -- often used against Communists -- were largely limited by the Supreme Court.

But not because such actions are legal or protected by the Consitution. Because, and only because, such talk among communists and anarchists was largely that-- just talk.

Hence Oliver Wendell Holmes' famous limitation on such prosecutions -- they could only go forward if the incitement/conspiracy presented a "clear and present danger" of an actual, tangible, genuine threat of violence being carried out.

He wanted to protect, basically, bullshit ravings from communists and anarchists unlikely to go any further than some idiot's basement as protected free speech -- so long as it wasn't actually true incitement or true conspiracy.

But the key is: If such talk, which is in fact illegal incitement or conspiracy, does present a "clear and present danger" of actual violence or other criminal activity being carried out, it can in fact be prosecuted for the crime it is.

People love to cite "clear and present danger" as a limitation. But they're less eager to remind people of the corollary -- if there IS a clear and present danger, all bets are off, and it's time for some G-men.

I'll let you all decide whether jihadist incitement and conspiracy to commit murder and facillitate terrorism is merely some sort of abstract, remote, college-bullshit-session sort of deal, or if it does in fact consitute a "clear and present danger" of encouraging, inciting, or facilitating actual murder and terrorism.


Clark1 adds...

Heck, for all federal funding at the University level, I have to fill out all sorts of forms about a Drug Free Workplace, Nondsicrimination (accept against males and whites which is in fact encouraged), Hazardous Materials, Animal Safety, etc. Why this is some sort of dangerous precedent is beyond me.

Because it's good to demand compliance with the law about something serious like affirmative action quotas and protecting animals, but it's bad to demand similar compliance with trivial laws, like those forbidding the provision of material assistance to terrorist organizations.

Duh.

Very duh.


digg this
posted by Ace at 03:13 PM

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