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catallaxy in technical exile

'Drew' Fraser redux

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Firstly an update. Catallaxy readers may recall the ‘Drew’ Fraser controversy which was sparked off by a letter he wrote using his employer’s letterhead (details here) and the subsequent controversy over the withdrawal of an article he submitted to a law review which was initially ‘fast-tracked’ for publication.

Now it occurs that the eccentric Professor has got into some alphabet soup trouble with that waste of oxygen, HREOC effectively declaring that his pronouncements were against the law:

ACADEMIC Andrew Fraser will defy the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission by not apologising to the Sudanese community for his study linking African refugees to high crime rates.
In a landmark ruling that raises fresh questions about the limits to which academics can engage in public debate, HREOC chairman John von Doussa has found Professor Fraser’s comments were unlawful because they amounted to a “sweeping generalisation” that was not backed by research.

I’ve taken a consistent stand on this. Academics have no more right to job security (taking into account possible contractual breaches) than the rest of us. I don’t support restrictive unfair dismissal laws and I wouldn’t make an exception for Drew Fraser or any other self-proclaimed academic martyr. If I used my employer’s letterhead to write an article to the Australian about the ZOG conspiracy I would expect to be sacked the next day. I don’t think it makes a difference at all that universities get taxpayer funding since under current conditions there would be very few organisations or commercial entities who are not direct or indirect beneficiaries of regulatory or tax privileges of some sort. So to invoke the current semi-public status of universities (like the unprincipled ‘Liberal’ supporters of VSU do) to call for more regulation of things that universities do that you don’t like is simply to open up a hornet’s nest.

But to put it frankly, the HREOC decision is an outrageous one which needs no further comment. I realise they’re just doing their job but bodies like HREOC should frankly have been dismantled long ago. The case against racial vilification laws has been made again and again on this and the old site (see here for instance) so I won’t repeat them except to say that for restricting speech, an extremely high onus of proof that there has been harm to the public (direct incitement to violence, shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre) should be imposed and racial vilification laws simply aren’t up to that standard, but feel free to debate this in the comments thread.

With these reflections in mind, below I reproduce a letter that various overseas academics and scholars (some of better repute than others) have written to The Australian on April 12 on this whole affair. Note they do raise the whole ‘academic freedom’ furphy about universities not being entitled to discipline their employees so I certainly don’t wholeheartedly endorse it but I thought it would be worth reproducing here for a bit of a stoush:

The Australian-Higher Education

Published April 12, 2006

Denial of Academic Liberty

CONTRARY to all the traditions of academic freedom (“Academic won’t be muzzled”, The Australian April 5), after the publication of a letter to the editor in the Parramatta Sun on July 6, 2005 by Andrew Fraser of Macquarie University’s department of public law on race, IQ, crime, and immigration, his home university forbade him to teach in his subject area and Deakin University withdrew from publication an article already accepted in the Deakin Law Review.

Most threatening to all citizens, not just academicians, the Australian Human Rights Commission has declared the publication of the letter constituted an unlawful breach of Section18C of the Racial Discrimination

The research Fraser cited to support his arguments has been published in many peer-reviewed journal articles and scholarly books. It documents that blacks have, on average, lower IQ scores and poorer academic achievement than do whites. It also documents that Blacks have higher rates of crime and some other social dysfunctions. East Asians, on the other hand, tend to average higher than Whites on ability measures and lower in rate of crime and social dysfunction.

There is much solid research that makes a genetic contribution to these group differences more likely than not. Fraser has done no more than restate hypotheses offered for over half a century by eminent psychologists and anthropologists at leading universities.

Behavioural scientists have increasingly put evidence for a genetic component to those traits on the record. Many more agree but have been reluctant to go on the record for fear of the kind of intimidation Prof. Fraser is experiencing. There is an important and legitimate academic debate going on about race, intelligence, and genetics. It is a sad day when governments and universities once rooted in the traditions of British liberty muzzle academicians and public figures from engaging in open discussion.

J. Philippe Rushton,
University of Western Ontario,

Richard Lynn,
University of Ulster

Arthur R. Jensen
University of California, Berkeley

Charles Murray
American Enterprise Institute
Washington, DC

Christopher Brand
formerly University of Edinburgh

Helmuth Nyborg
Aarhus University, Denmark

Linda S. Gottfredson,
University of Delaware

Donald Templer
Alliant International University, Fresno

Written by Admin

April 14, 2006 at 11:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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