Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Boycott Australian National University

I announce that I am boycotting Australian National University (ANU) for one year, unless the Vice-Chancellor resigns or apologizes. I strongly encourage other academics to join me and do likewise.

ANU's student newspaper, the Woroni, published a satirical cartoon about Islam, one in a series of similar cartoons that had already been published about Catholicism, Scientology, Mormonism, and Judaism. The cartoon can be found here. Of these five groups, apparently only Islam had adherents that couldn't handle the rather gentle satire in the cartoon, and complained to the Vice-Chancellor's office.

The Vice-Chancellor, Ian Young, took the most heavy-handed route possible, threatening the students unless the cartoon was removed. His rationale was a textbook example of the heckler's veto, in which speech is restricted because of the claimed potential for inducing violent behavior in others.

The Woroni issued a statement in which more details can be found about the incident.

This kind of censorship is utterly reprehensible in my view. No sensible or reasonable person could see that cartoon and believe it was over-the-top. I urge everyone to write Ian Young directly to let him know your view of his authoritarian and irresponsible action, and join the boycott of ANU.


Robert Byers said...

Censorship of this type has come from the leftwing.
There is everywhere a intent to control/punish speech/thoughts by the establishment or anyone in power.
This has been going on since WW11 because of the conviction words/images matters. They persuade and lead the "masses".
There must be a greater philosophy to settle all these things.
By the in Canada they punish anyone who expresses contempt for homosexuality as the Blue Jays thing showed.
If we are free men then we are free indeed.
Only by legislation should there be laws against speech as then we all can have a say on this legislation.
Otherwise the boss is everyone who is in power.
A greater moral agreement is needed by mankind on thoughts and speech.
We do have , nor should, freedom of speech in our fathers homes.
However our nations are our home and nobody is to tell us anything save by easy going social consent and habits.
Its the left who are the trouble makers.
All the right was against was pornography or nudity on tv.

Gerry said...

"I am boycotting Australian National University." What exactly does that mean? How does an individual boycott a university? You won't read any papers published by ANU faculty? You won't reply to email from ANU faculty?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

I am surprised you need to ask this, since boycotts of universities are not uncommon.

It means I won't have anything to do with that university. I won't accept graduate students from there; I won't speak there; I won't recommend students to go there, and so forth.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

As usual, Byers, you're an ignorant moron. Read "Free Speech for Me but Not for Thee" to see an account of how both the Left and the Right act as censors.

In North America, censorship by the Right has lately been much, much stronger. You only have to look at the attacks on atheist students by university administrations.

James Cranch said...

There's a fine book, "The Myth of Political Correctness" by John K Wilson, which describes a popular sort of right-wing propaganda: propaganda that says that the right wing are being effectively and systematically censored by left-wing academics.

I can't understand the relevance of Byers's comment, except as propaganda of this sort, since he hasn't advanced any evidence that the vice-chancellor of the Australian National University is any kind of leftist.

Anonymous said...

I do think ANU deserves a boycott for this cowardly action against freedom of speech. But I wonder if such a boycott can be effective and what needs to be done to put real pressure on the university. I am not sure if the functioning of a university can be tangibly affected by it being boycotted by academics from other universities. Unless you have some regular business with ANU, I don't think they will notice, even if a number of other academics join the boycott.

I understand that the purpose of this is mostly to make a statement, but I am wondering if there is a way to pressure ANU into correcting this horrible mistake. This is probably easier to do for Australians than anyone else. Any thoughts?

SLC said...

Re James Cranch

In case Cranch is unfamiliar with Booby Byers, he is a young earth creationist who believes that made up manure is equal to evidence. He trolls on several blogs and is tolerated because he is, unintentionally, a source of much amusement.