Politicians vs. professors
Battle heats up post-September 11
DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Academic freedom has never completely protected professors who make unpopular statements. One was fired in 1960 for suggesting that premarital sex among students could be a good thing. Three decades later, a department chair was demoted for saying a Jewish conspiracy denigrated blacks in the movies.
Now experts say the September 11 attacks have put new fire in the battle over just where academic freedom ends and misconduct -- or even treason -- begins.
University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill could be fired pending an investigation prompted by his 2001 essay suggesting some World Trade Center victims were toiling away like efficient Nazi bureaucrats.
There are no exact figures on attempts to fire or discipline professors since September 11, but experts say they have probably increased. The fight is especially fierce at state universities, where some question whether taxpayers must pay the salaries of professors they find unpatriotic or outrageous.