Case in point: David Beito and I have criticized the University of Alabama for failing to address, and then attempting to cover up, rampant grade inflation. Administrators do not like us. So what did they do?
Two things, and neither included argument or reason. First, they claimed that only"recognized" faculty groups could use campus mail to distribute their views. Recognized? What does that mean, we said. There was no answer, except to suggest that if they like you, you're"recognized." This is how the Chinese government operates. We pressed the administrators on this, and demonstrated, we think, that the power they claimed was not properly exercised by them but by the faculty itself.
Then came the second thing. OK, they said, even if you are recognized, postal regulations prohibt you from sending you newspaper, The Alabama Observer, through faculty mail."Postal regulations?" we asked. You've got to be kidding! They weren't. Within 28 hours, the admnistration of the University of Alabama had banned our paper and the paper of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The Federalist Society, by the way, had already been banned when David Bernstein came to speak and the administration refused to publicize his Federalist-sponsored lecture.
Faculty, unbelievably, were nonplussed. Hey, so what if the principle of free speech had been violated? At least unnamed and unidentified"postal regulations" had been protected. And best of all, they thought, reactionary faculty conservatives had been prevented from communicating their ideas.
The faculty will eventually realize that this is a sword that cuts both ways. But in the meantime, the administration has won -- not by being"right," of course, but by throwing up incomprehensible rules and procedures, all designed to conceal the unprincipled use of power and cover the admnistrative posterior.
As I've said before, and will say again, the ONLY way to confront this kind of problem (short of a firing squad) is with mandatory term limits for university administrators.