Okay, well the big academic gossip for today is that Ward Churchill got nailed.
"In the end, the faculty panel assigned to look into the Ward Churchill mess at the University of Colorado found plenty of guilt to go around."
"It found repeated, intentional academic misconduct — plagiarism, fabrication, falsification and more — by Churchill, an ethnic studies professor at Colorado’s Boulder campus, and documented those instances in a 124-page report released Tuesday. But the panel also faulted the university, noting that allegations about Churchill had been known for years in the scholarly world but had not been deemed worthy of inquiry at his home campus."
Okay, so why did this not come up years ago? The faculty panel is going to be screwed here because the guy really shouldn't have tenure, and yet they wouldn't have looked into him if it wasn't for the Fox News panic attack over his comments on 9/11. So, they should get rid of him, and then he'll likely sue.
Basically what happened is that Churchill wrote this article entitled On the Justice of Roosting Chickens about the victims of 9/11 and why they don't deserve our sympathy. If you remember, I thought it was gross and dreadfully written to boot. Like something a 14 year old would write for a zine. Also, I said it would be nuts to expect that the trustees and public at large wouldn't freak out over the article. Anyway, the right wingers freaked out because he's a professor at a public university, and so gets money from the taxpayers, although honestly, I'm not sure why the taxpayers should get to dictate what opinions you hold for their investment.
Anyway, I've also said that I have yet to meet a professor with attitudes like those of Ward Churchill in seven years of academic life. Of course, the hysterics don't want to hear about that. Hysteria doesn't seek relief; it seeks release. People who are hysterical want to proved right. So, for half of the blogosphere, Churchill proves that we're all anti-American fanatics, right?
The university caved to public pressure and set up an investigation into Churchill's academic work, much of which had been questioned for years. And, they found the aforementioned plagiarism, fabrications, falsifications, and something to do with disrespecting native American oral traditions. So, what to do now?
Sure, he'll sue, but what does it say to the students of the university if a professor is allowed to plagiarise? I'm personally getting sick of plagiarism. Every semester, I get one or two students who think that it's okay to copy an entire paper from the Internet. And then, when I confront them about it, they half-heartedly give me these lame excuses. "Sure, I know it's wrong. But, I was short on time." None of them actually do seem to know that it's wrong. Even worse, Mall University won't bring them up on charges for it. I know. I've tried to get charges going. The University is afraid they'll get sued. People today think that academic work is worthless anyway, so why do it honestly?
Because it matters. Because this is what we do. Honest research is the heart of our profession. Ward Churchill attacked the heart of the profession that we love. Sure, the right wingers hate academia, and that won't change no matter what happens. But, they're wrong. Academic inquiry is more precious than gold for a free society. And we must defend its right to exist from both the anti-academics and the dishonest academics.