The University of Wisconsin-Madison has calmly and judiciously responded to the request from the state's Republican Party for some of William Cronon's email messages. Read that complete letter here.
Note the breadth of the material exempted under law: communications with students, communications with prospective students, communications with scholars related to research and scholarly inquiry,"e-mails containing purely personal communications that do not relate to Professor Cronon’s employment."
I particularly like the paragraphs in which the university's lawyers explain the Wisconsin GOP's letter to the Wisconsin GOP, pointing out in the course of compliance that their request was poorly framed. You have to hope the Republican Party staffers who wrote that letter will have the sense to be embarrassed.
This is all, of course, precisely what McCarthyism was like for its victims, and we see now how apt that comparison was.
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Chris Bray - 4/11/2011
I appreciate the point, and apologize for being a pill.
Sherman Jay Dorn - 4/11/2011
I think this comes under the heat/kitchen principle. We're all kibitzers, Chris. I think you had a good point and then shifted away from substance. The interesting point to me is not whether this is a repeat of McCarthyism; as I've stated on my blog, I'm desensitized to concerns about access to my email. So academe's occasional reference to McCarthyism can look like Godwin's Laws; but that observation can and should be the start of several other interesting threads.
Chris Bray - 4/3/2011
BTW, I invite you to compare the outcome of the Cronon matter to this comment of mine that I posted on March 26, a week before that outcome was apparent. I was correct, as a matter of fact, well before the bus got to the station. So what's more important to you: seeing clearly, or oh my goodness heavens not engaging in sarcasm, the horror of it all. Tone, or substance? The comment threads at Cliopatria seem quite heavily weighted toward the tone camp, as if fully half of the people who stop by to post something here had to stop polishing their patent leather spats to lay their fingers on the keyboard. It is, words fail me, dull.
The Internet is large -- if your preference is for people who maintain a properly humorless tone while being wrong about everything, you're probably in luck.
Chris Bray - 4/3/2011
In the future, I will contact you in advance of posting to seek your guidance regarding the appropriate tone and substance of whatever I wish to write.
Sherman Jay Dorn - 4/3/2011
Yes, this was a little bit what McCarthyism was like... for those at the University of Chicago after Hutchins told the state investigating committee to buzz off.
I have been thinking about your previous post and how to balance the desire for transparency with the concern that requests for email records are intimidation, but your writing today is ... not particularly effective at pushing your point.
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