A conspiracy against academic freedom (1 of 2)

September 1, 2011

I was quietly reading Times Higher Education when all of a sudden a gang of some 100 frenzied historians appeared, intent, it seemed, on riotously attacking a certain David Starkey ("Starkey's a celebrity, get him out of here", "Starkey's ignorance is hardly work of history", 25 August).

They deployed a variety of hideous weapons: incoherent arguments, studied misinterpretations, disingenuous mystification, implausible accusations, and adolescent invective, to name only a few. It was quite a frightening experience for the average gentle academic.

Who are they, I wondered? What do they want? Why are they behaving so appallingly? I was tempted fleetingly to put it all down to the culture of Leftism that has overtaken academia. However, I realised that diverse motivations and structural forces were in play.

These appear, on a preliminary analysis, to include: lingering faith in antique Stalinism, naive commitment to romantic Trotskyism, jealous envy of Starkey's influence and income, angry guilt about the continuing failure of their own pet theories, prejudice against elegant and entertaining speakers, and neurotic anxiety in the face of robust argument. I suggest they be charged with conspiracy to assault academic freedom and held without bail.

David Marsland, University of Buckingham

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald