January 21, 2007

One more golden oldie... Dismissal as an academic boomerang

'...Attacks sometimes recoil against the attacker, a process that can be called the boomerang effect... Attacks can boomerang when they are perceived as unjust by participants and observers... The dismissal of an academic can be interpreted as an attack on the academic or on academic freedom, and thus can potentially boomerang...

For getting rid of an academic without repercussions, the cover-up is a powerful tool. If few people know about the reasons, the processes and the outcome, then the potential for generating outrage is minimal.

Many academics cooperate in a cover-up because they are ashamed by the criticisms of their performance and because they are not accustomed to seeking publicity. Indeed, most academics avoid public engagement, much less publicity, seeking recognition only among peers through scholarly publications and conferences.

This means that if discreet efforts are made to get rid of them, many are inclined to go quietly. For them, going public is not dignified. Scholarly self-image can get in the way of the quest for justice or even for survival.

In some cases when academics sue for wrongful dismissal, they reach a settlement with the university that includes a payment to them only upon acceptance of a silencing clause, namely a settlement condition that restricts future public comment about the case. Silencing clauses are potent means for cover-up

From: The Richardson dismissal as an academic boomerang

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