Abuse of academic freedom can never be condoned

Today in The Australian

According to Tim Anderson, who was sacked from the University of Sydney last month, academic freedom entitles him to display, as teaching material, the flag of the state of Israel with a swastika ­superimposed on it.

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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17 Responses to Abuse of academic freedom can never be condoned

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    Tim Anderson is one of the top reasons why the reputation of the University of Sydney is now in the toilet.

    I am saddened by my old uni’s collapse into crude leftism of the most abhorrent ilk.

    Kids, don’t go there. Get a real job.

  2. stackja

    University of Sydney does not want Western Civilisation Studies or Bettina Arndt giving a speech but was happy employing Tim Anderson.

  3. The BigBlueCat

    What course requires teaching material like that? And in what context?

  4. Percy Popinjay

    What course requires teaching material like that? And in what context?

    Collectivism for illiterate innumerate ahistorical imbeciles 101.

  5. Robbo

    Good grief the University of Sydney has actually made a morally correct decision. Wonders will never cease.

  6. Colonel Crispin Berka, King's Fusiliers Corps.

    Yeah, Universities should be covered in cotton wool and turned into giant Safe Spaces!

    Wait… what?? Which web site am I browsing right now, is it CatallaxyFiles or the Green Left Weekly?
    And am I construing a false dichotomy for inflammatory purposes or is there really such a double-standard operating at the Cat whenever the subject is the unmentionable middle-east country?

  7. Mother Lode

    What course requires teaching material like that? And in what context?

    I think a lot of the academics in the courses named ‘critical’ and ‘studies’ consider themselves to be the teaching material.

  8. tombell

    maybe he can get a gig as a Hilton Ambassador?

  9. dover_beach

    Collectivism for illiterate innumerate ahistorical imbeciles 101.

    I believe that is their foundation course.

  10. max


    In his book, Rushdoony refers to the public school establishment as America’s only established church. He called the teachers a priesthood. In the same year, liberal church historian Sidney E. Mead made exactly the same comment. It is not random that the last state to abolish tax funding for churches was Massachusetts. It did this in 1833. Within four years, the state created a statewide governing agency of public education: the Massachusetts Board of Education. Horace Mann became the first representative of this transfer of funds.

    Robes in the West have been marks of judicial independence. Churchmen have worn black robes for many centuries to assert their independence from the state’s jurisdiction. Members of the faculties of medieval universities wore black robes for the same reason, beginning in the 12th century. They claimed independence from the normal church hierarchy of priests. You have heard the phrase “town and gown.” It has to do with legal jurisdiction. This began in medieval times. Why do modern universities have their own police forces? This is why: separate jurisdiction. College professors today continue to wear robes in formal occasions. It is unlikely that most of them understand the historic importance of these robes. Judges also wear black robes. This indicates the independence of judges from both king and legislature.

    The centrality of the public schools is basic to the replacement of both church and family by the state. There is no other institution that has comparable authority in both realms. This is because it claims jurisdiction over the minds of children. It claims jurisdiction over the input of facts and interpretations.


    University professors are adamant in their insistence that they possess academic freedom: judicial independence. The doctrine of academic freedom, invented in Prussia as a way for professors at the University of Berlin to immunize themselves against the state bureaucrats who funded the university, has been transferred from universities down to the states’ system of compulsory education.

    This means academic freedom from the taxpayers. This means academic freedom from parents. In most cases, it means academic freedom from the Board of Trustees, who are laymen. Rare is any church-related university’s Board of Trustees that will impose a confession of faith as a condition of employment. The only case like this that I can think of over the last 50 years took place in 2012 at Shorter University, a small Baptist school in Rome, Georgia. A third of the faculty resigned. They were replaced with no problems over the summer. In this job market, college professors are as replaceable as tent pegs.

    The heart, mind, and soul of the doctrine of academic freedom can be summarized in one brief sentence: “He who pays the piper does not call the tune.” Those who provide the funding are not allowed by the rules to determine either the input or the output of the process. This separates responsibility from funding. In the case of tax-funded education, it separates the teachers and administrators from the taxpayers. Tenure adds to this separation.


  11. Capkeyk

    I don’t know what subject he teaches and what they were discussing ( don’t have subscription to The Australian) but would the material be banned if it was shown and discussed in an arts class discussing abstract surrealist art?

    Australia is becoming a pretty little cupcake nation.

    There are things I don’t like about the American culture but I agree that the items below are the only ones that should not be considered protected speech.

    Fighting words
    Defamation (including libel and slander)
    Child pornography
    Incitement to imminent lawless action
    True threats
    Solicitations to commit crimes

  12. The BigBlueCat
    #2947099, posted on March 1, 2019 at 8:32 am

    What course requires teaching material like that? And in what context?

    Here you go mate, it’s all here in one picture


  13. DrBeauGan

    The case for academic freedom is the case for preventing government from dictating what views academics are permitted to hold. Now the academics themselves are dictating what views they are allowed to hold, the whole thing is unnecessary. There isn’t any academic freedom left.

  14. but would the material be banned if it was shown and discussed in an arts class discussing abstract surrealist art?

    It wasn’t “banned”. The ponce in question was just told that he wasn’t going to be paid taxpayers’ money to promote it.

  15. Overburdened

    It would never have occurred to me that Anderson would ever be in a position to influence younger people or have a public platform when l had exposure to him and his offsiders back in the late 1970’s

  16. flyingduk

    Wrong wrong wrong, free speech is free speech, its not ‘free speech except for…..’. The best cure for bad ideas is sunlight.

  17. Eyrie

    Shut down all government funding of universities, no HECS. Make them pay their way as private businesses.
    Lets see if they stay in business. My bet is only a few faculties will and we won’t miss the rest.

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