Over at The Maneater we have an unpleasant story of Republican lawmakers sticking their noses into University of Missouri personnel decisions, made even more unpleasant by an open letter from selected faculty in support of the much-maligned Professor Melissa Click, who became internet infamous after calling for student muscle to remove a citizen journalist from a public university quadrangle. As much as it squicks me out to agree with Missouri Republicans, I found their arguments significantly more persuasive than those given by the Mizzou faculty:
We wish to state in no uncertain terms our support for Click as a member of the University of Missouri faculty who has earned her position through an outstanding record of teaching and research. We believe that her actions on November 9 constitute at most a regrettable mistake, one that came, moreover, at the end of several weeks during which Click served alongside other faculty and staff as an ally to students who were protesting what they saw as their exclusion from and isolation at the University.
We believe that Click has been wronged in the media by those who have attacked her personally and have called for her dismissal. We affirm our support of her as a colleague, a teacher, and a scholar, and we call upon the University to defend her first amendment rights of protest and her freedom to act as a private citizen.
Putting aside the obvious objections that should come to mind here, what sort of faculty members would agree to support a scholar with an outstanding record of research which includes critical reviews of pop cultural phenomena such as Martha Stewart, Lady Gaga, 50 Shades of Grey, and Twilight?
Mostly scholars of language and culture, as it turns out.
I was startled to see anyone from the School of Journalism and the School of Law on that list, I would have assumed experts in those fields would fully understand that forcibly infringing upon freedom of the press is not remotely equivalent to exercising one’s own right to protest.
The reader is cautioned not to read too much into these data, since base rates (i.e. total number of faculty positions in each department or school) are omitted. Relatedly, congratulations appear to be due to the MU Dept. of Economics, which managed not to produce even a single signatory to the letter.