I suppose this is going to be one of those nutty libertarian rants that help explain why libertarians do so poorly at the polls, but I am not really very comfortable with Ward Churchill's potential firing from University of Colorado. I can't think of very many things Mr. Churchill has said that I agree with, but I still have this crazy idea about defending speech regardless of the content of the speech.
And it is hard for me to escape the sense that Mr. Churchill may lose his tenured position at a state-run institution over the content of his speech. Yeah, I know, its nominally about his academic credentials. But don't you think everyone is winking at each other about this? Yes, Mr. Churchill is an academic fraud, but he was a fraud when UC hired him and tenured him as well, and they should have known it.
Over a couple of decades, every major university in the country rushed to build, practically from scratch, racial and ethnic and gender studies programs and departments. Had every university raced at the same time to build any discipline, talent would run short and in the hiring race, some under-qualified people would be hired. Let's suppose that every university decided at the same time they needed a climate department, there just would not be enough qualified climate scientists to fill out every position. The rush to build ethnic studies programs was similar but in fact a bit worse. Because while some people actually do have climate-related degrees, no one until recently had an ethnic studies degree. What professional qualifications should a school look for? And, in fact, in the rush to build ethnic studies programs, a lot of people of very dubious qualifications were given tenure, often based more on ethnic credibility and political activism than any academic qualifications. Hell, Cal State Long Beach hired a paranoid schizophrenic who had served prison time for beating and torturing two women as the head of their Black Studies department. And universities like UC patted themselves on their politically correct backs for these hirings.
I could go out tomorrow and find twenty tenured professors of ethnic/racial/gender studies in state universities whose academic credentials are at least as bad as Churchill's and whom no one would dare fire. This has nothing to do with Churchill's academic work or its quality. UC is getting exactly what it expected when it tenured him. This is about an attempt to fire a tenured professor for the content of his speech, speech that has embarrassed and put pressure on the university, and I can't support that.