Beware Big Brother paranoia 1

May 25, 2007

The tone of your story "Staff see red over online policing"

(May 18) was alarmist and misdirected, as it gave the impression that higher education managers, administrators, personnel and marketing staff have nothing better to do than trawl through e-mails, blogs and discussion groups looking for evidence of dissent.

Anyone would think that we are run by the Staatssicherheitsdienst . On the contrary, these important workers simply do not have the time for that sort of thing, even if they wanted to.

If criticism does come to the attention of the authorities, then it has probably been reported to them by academic colleagues. The motives are not hard to fathom: envy, score-settling, career advancement, or a wish to appear compliant to power. These passions exist in all societies, so why should academe be any different?

Stoking paranoid fantasies of the omnipotent gaze of power simply encourages narcissism. Why not "out" academics who perpetuate it - as a prelude to some warm and fuzzy truth and reconciliation, of course.

Jeremy Valentine
Queen Margaret University
Edinburgh

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