I read with interest George’s post about another 9/11 conspiracy theorist in the academy. Following the link to the Inside Higher Ed story, I almost choked on my breakfast when I read AAUP General Secretary Roger Bowen’s comments. In his defense of the professor’s academic freedom, he said:
Professors outside the classroom should speak truth to power as their conscience dictates and inside the classroom they should speak the truths of their discipline. Based on the press reports I have read, it appears that Professor Woodward exemplifies both these professional desiderata.It is perfectly acceptable and proper to say that a professor should not be punished for his out of class political comments, even if they are extreme, false, and just plain silly. But to call 9/11 conspiracy-mongering “speak[ing] truth to power?” That’s just too much. He’s speaking gibberish to the gullible. And, yes, the First Amendment protects even that.