Web Site That Went Too Far

Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, Apr 22, 2005
Commentary by Stephen Downes

As we move into an era in which increasing numbers of public services are being handed over to the private sector, it is important to note that our rights and freedoms associated with those services are not being transferred with them. Thus we see this case of a university professor being fired for a website mildly critical of a college administration. Or this story of professors fighting a gag order barring board members from talking to students or faculty. One way to address this is through unions or faculty associations - but I'm uncomfortable with the idea that our rights are defined by what we can win at the bargaining table and enforcable only through job actions. There's tenure, but most people in the world don't have tenure. It should be the view of every person who supports the idea of democracy that the rights we take for granted in civil society - most notably, in this case, the freedom of speech - ought to apply in the workplace as well. What good is democracy if we must submit to authoritarianism in order to put a meal on the table?
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