August 24, 2009

John Yoo and academic freedom

On the Balkanization blog, Deborah Pearlstein copies a memo from Berkeley (Boalt Hall) Law School dean Christopher Edley regarding John Yoo, the tenured faculty member at Boalt who wrote the torture-justification memos for the Bush administration. In it, Edley makes clear his disdain for Yoo's reasoning and then argues that those who would want Yoo gone have a very high bar to pass over to make that argument. See an interview transcript with Edley here.

Brad DeLong disagrees. DeLong argues that Yoo's intellectual inconsistencies form the type of misconduct that justifies firing a tenured faculty member. DeLong is wrong, and Edley is correct. I have no more taste for Yoo's views than DeLong, but I value academic freedom and academic due-process more than I value my desire to see Yoo kicked out of his job for prevarication in the service of torture. 

If he is prosecuted by the Department of Justice, then that's a different matter, and we'll see what happens in court. But he hasn't been indicted, and the current arguments for his ouster strike me as very reminiscent of the calls in late 2001 for USF to immediately fire Sami Al-Arian.

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Posted in Academic freedom on August 24, 2009 10:19 AM |