Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some conservatives in the APSA...

have decided to go for "cute and clever" instead of "principled." After this year's brawl over whether to change the location of the Annual Meeting scheduled to take place in New Orleans because of Lousiana's anti-gay mini-DOMA, some on the right are circulating a petition to keep the APSA from coming to Toronto nextyearbecause of the threat to freedom of speech posed by the Human Rights Act/ Human Rights Commissions. (On the merits of the academic freedom case, see Cliff Orwin. The HRCs are a blight, and free speech in Canada is on shakier ground than it is in the US< but there's even less evidence that any academics will be brought before the HRC for their APSA talks than there was that gay APSA members would be placed at dire legal-medical risk by setting foot in a state where their spouses weren't recognized.)

It's overtly payback, aimed to show that the right can politicize siting choice as much as the left.

The right answer remains, in this case as in the New Orleans case, the Weberian answer found in the APSA constitution:
2. The Association as such is nonpartisan. It will not support political parties or candidates. It will not commit its members on questions of public policy nor take positions not immediately concerned with its direct purpose as stated above. But the Association nonetheless actively encourages in its membership and its journals, research in and concern for significant contemporary political and social problems and policies, however controversial and subject to partisan discourse in the community at large these may be. The Association shall not be barred from adopting resolutions or taking such other action as it deems appropriate in support of academic freedom and of freedom of expression by and within the Association, the political science profession, and the university, when in its judgment such freedom has been clearly and seriously violated or is clearly and seriously threatened.

Yes, the Association is authorized to take action in support of academic freedom-- but the non-politiciziation norm is given great weight, and it's to be outweighted only when "such freedom has been clearly and seriously violated or is clearly and seriously threatened." The idea that scholarly freedom in Canada is in such a situation is absurd, false, and almost certainly being offered in bad faith just to score a cute point.