Although Kershnar had offered to submit his writings to a “Prior Consent Committee” for a year, that wasn’t enough for Dennis Hefner. He responded with a request for prior restraint over the professor’s speech for an indefinite period of time – perhaps the rest of his career.
I have a special name for college administrators who are willing to withhold a promotion (and the money that goes with it) from a professor until he agrees to permanently relinquish his First Amendment rights. I call them academic extortionists.
But, fortunately, professors like Stephen Kershnar can always rely on the AAUP to come to the rescue when free speech rights – even those of conservatives – are threatened, right?
The American Association for Unprincipled Pacifists was under-whelmed by the magnitude of the prior restraint issue in Kershnar’s case. (After all, he wasn’t writing for The New York Times). So he turned to the only organization that defends both left wing professors (like Sammy Al Arian) and right wing professors (like Mike Adams). I am talking, of course, about the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
And the results of turning to FIRE were predictable. The organization used its media muscle to expose Hefner’s unacceptable conduct and, shortly thereafter, Kershnar was promoted.
But SUNY Fredonia still doesn’t get it. Christine Davis Mantai, director of media relations for SUNY Fredonia recently denied that Professor Stephen Kershnar’s promotion was a reversal of the president’s previous decision. Instead, she said it was a new decision made on a re-application, in which Kershnar better emphasized his contributions in the area of service.
This is more than a weak and disingenuous defense of administrative misconduct. It is an admission that Hefner still doesn’t respect the First Amendment. And it is more than sufficient justification for his immediate termination.