This is quite a sentence. There are many adjectives an opponent of the Academic Bill of Rights might employ to disparage it without actually undermining his case. But “insane” is not one of them. This “insane “bill has inspired legislation that passed the Georgia Senate by a vote of 41-5 (i.e., with ample Democrat support), and the Pennsylvania House, and is incorporated in part in the Higher Education Authorization Act of the United States Congress, whose provisions recently passed the House. The House Bill was also supported by the American Council on Education, a liberal organization embracing every prominent university in the United States.
The text of the Academic Bill of Rights is easily accessible on the Internet and has been specifically praised by its opponents as hard to criticize. The reason is its precepts are so “liberal” – and sane. So to characterize the bill as a lunatic raving effectively calls into question the credibility of the critic himself.
The sentence gets worse. It states falsely that the Academic Bill of Rights “would allow students to sue their professors.” This is a claim that has already been refuted many times. It is based on the assumption that the Bill of Rights is a legal statute with enforcement provisions. Even on such an assumption there is nothing in the bill that would provide a legal basis for students to sue their professors. First because of the fact that one sues a university not an individual professor, a basic fact that a competent reporter would know, but more importantly because there is actually no legislation with enforcement provisions, nor has any such legislation been proposed. All the resolutions regarding the Academic Bill of Rights that have passed through legislative committees are just that – resolutions. None of them has an enforcement mechanism. In other words, the statement is false.
It is also not simply a mistake. All this information is readily available on the web (e.g., at www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org, a site containing all versions of the legislation and articles both critical and supportive of the academic freedom movement and the Academic Bill of Rights). The same false claim about the Academic Bill of Rights has been made more than once by its teacher union critics and has been publicly refuted more than once.
The sentence then states that the Academic Bill of Rights would “mandate the hiring of one right-wing professor for each professor who assigns supposedly left-wing material.” This statement reveals the extreme and uncontrollable nature of Max’s partisan passions and why he will have a hard time becoming a credible reporter. He can’t even allow himself the possibility that there may actually be professors who are left-wing. If Max were to write that the Academic Bill of Rights would mandate the hiring of one right-wing professor for each left-wing professor, then his opponents would have said at least one thing that is true — that there are left-wing professors. But his opponents can’t be allowed even such modest latitude, so Max must make the absurd claim that the Academic Bill of Rights requires the hiring of one right-wing professor “for each professor who assigns supposedly left-wing material.” Got that? There is no such thing as left-wing reading material either, only “supposedly left-wing material.”
But whether it is alleged or not, or whether there are left-wing professors or not, Max’s entire statement is a fiction because the Academic Bill of Rights not only does not mandate political “balance” or the hiring of one right-wing professor for every left-wing assignment, it explicitly forbids the hiring of right-wing professors because they are right-wing. Period. It says instead that “No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.”
And of course this information too is readily available on the web. In fact, I have pointed out this innumerable times since the first attacks were made against the Bill by its union-inspired critics two-and-a-half years ago. My staff and I have refuted this claim, over and over, by simply quoting what the Bill says.
In sum, in a single sentence young Max has characterized a perfectly reasonable document as “insane,” while fabricating two false claims to prove it.