Read the following (true) scenario and then answer the questions posed:

Northwestern University is home to Arthur Butz, a proponent of Holocaust-Revisionist theories, and a tenured faculty member of the Engineering Department. Protests against Butz's placement of statements espousing his views on the non-existance of the Holocast on the NWU network server have been ineffective. The NWU administration supported his "academic freedom" to place Holocaust-Revisionist material on the university's computer. The appropriate use statement of the university includes the paragraph:

The University is a free and open forum for the expression of ideas, including viewpoints that are strange, unorthodox, or unpopular. The University network is the same. Network administrators place no official sanctions upon the expression of personal opinion on the network. However, such opinions may not be represented as the views of Northwestern University.

An adjunct professor in the department was incensed over this situation and vowed to counteract Butz's arguments in his own way. Prof. Sheldon Epstein, a member of the jewish community whose family had been severely affected by the Holocaust, volunteered to teach a course in Engineering where ethical issues in modern science were to be taught. He developed a curriculum that examined scientific ethics and how the scientific community was involved in events during WW II. The course was supported by a web site containing the syllabus, homework assignments, and other reference materials. As part of the syllabus he developed a homework assignment, to be followed by a class discussion, on the subject of genocide with the following objectives:

After one offering of the class Epstein reported (on the class web site):

"Dean Cohen fired me is that I have chosen to both speak in class and publish an assignment about the Holocaust - the premeditated genocide of Jews, Gypsies and others deemed unacceptable by Nazi's of Germany's Third Reich during World War II. I have been told that Dean Cohen considers my classroom discussion of the Holocaust inappropriate for a Design Engineering class. Apparently, he fears that if I am permitted to speak about the Holocaust to my students, then other faculty members will use it as a precedent and justification for their teaching about the Holocaust in their classes. My position is that students need to be informed about facts - even if there is a potential for propaganda."


(5 points) What makes these two cases different?






(10 points) How can the Dean justify condone the publication of a radical viewpoint by one faculty member while firing the other for teaching a more commonly accepted view?






(10 points) Does any organization (such as a university) have the right to limit constitutionally protected "Freedom of Speech" within their own community?






(10 points) Give an example of such a proposed limitation, and justify your position above.






Last updated 99/04/28
© J.A.N. Lee, 1999.