Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Fighting the Good Fight at the AHA

My friend David Beito at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa has for some years been waging a lonely battle in the American Historical Association against university speech codes. He has repeatedly raised the incongruity between the AHA’s denunciation of the Patriot Act and its tolerance for the stifling of unpopular speech at colleges and universities. Anyway, he is looking for AHA members to sign on to the following resolution, so that it might be voted on at the organization’s national meeting in January. I don’t know how many historians read this blog, but if you’re out there your support would be much appreciated.


Whereas, The American Historical Association has already gone on record against the threat to academic freedom posed by the Academic Bill of Rights; and

Whereas, Free and open discourse is essential to the success of research and learning on campus; and

Whereas, Administrators and others have used campus speech codes and associated non-academic criteria to improperly restrict faculty choices on curriculum, course content, and personnel decisions; and

Whereas, Administrators and others have also used speech codes to restrict free and open discourse for students and faculty alike through such methods as "free speech zones" and censorship of campus publications; therefore be it

Resolved, The American Historical Association opposes the use of speech codes to restrict academic freedom.

To give your support, e-mail David Beito, cc’ing your message to Sharon Tune at the AHA, indicating your intent to sign, affirming that you are a paid-up member of the organization, and indicating your institutional affiliation.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Well, John, I suppose you’re assuming that people over in the AHA care about free speech and the Constitution except where it promotes the disenfranchised, the poor, the "other," race, class, gender, blah, blah, blah.

I’m not assuming anything, Tony. If I thought the AHA had any merit I’d belong to it. Nor does David have any illusions about the group. He fully expects that the resolution will be shot down, but at least it would be a great opportunity to expose the group’s hypocrisy. I give him a lot of credit for pushing this.

Here’s a fair indicator of how bad things are in the AHA. David needs only 25 signatures from paid-up AHA members in order to have this resolution brought up at the annual meeting in January. So far he has only been able to get 21. Note that doesn’t mean 21 people who necessarily support the resolution--it’s only 21 who would like to see it debated.

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