14.1118, Disc: Academic Boycotts

LINGUIST List linguist at linguistlist.org
Wed Apr 16 03:19:09 UTC 2003


LINGUIST List:  Vol-14-1118. Tue Apr 15 2003. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 14.1118, Disc: Academic Boycotts

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1)
Date:  Tue, 15 Apr 2003 09:59:22 -0400
From:  "Michael A. Covington" <mc at uga.edu>
Subject:  Re:  Disc: Academic boycotts

2)
Date:  Tue, 15 Apr 2003 18:06:05 -0400
From:  Stirling Newberry <stnewberry at earthlink.net>
Subject:  Re: Academic Boycotts

3)
Date:  Wed, 16 Apr 2003 11:43:58 +0900
From:  "Kevin R. Gregg" <gregg at andrew.ac.jp>
Subject:  Re: 14.1109, Disc: Academic Boycotts

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Tue, 15 Apr 2003 09:59:22 -0400
From:  "Michael A. Covington" <mc at uga.edu>
Subject:  Re:  Disc: Academic boycotts

LINGUIST Digest - 13 Apr 2003 to 14 Apr 2003 (Linguist 14.1096 and
Linguist 14.1109)

My understanding, from the discussion at the LSA business meeting, is
that this resolution is to prevent actions from being taken against
individuals or institutions because of government policies.  It's not
intended to prevent actions against governments or business
communities.  For instance, much as I wish the LSA would remove
political criteria from the choice of meeting sites, my understanding
is that this resolution is not intended to do that.  Nor does it
prohibit action against an institution for the institution's own
behavior.

It is intended to keep individuals and institutions from being
blacklisted merely because they live in a particular area.

The bottom line: Do we want academia to transcend regional and
political boundaries, as it has traditionally done, or do we want to
keep the benefits of academia away from people in the blacklisted
areas, to punish them from living there?

Granted, boycotts can be a force for reform.  But education is a much
bigger force for reform.

And boycotts can have a hidden, less laudable purpose: they can be a
way of stifling competition.  One begins to wonder if there are people
in a few areas who wish linguistics would *not* prosper elsewhere, so
they could have it all to themselves.

Michael A. Covington - Associate Director
Artificial Intelligence Center, The University of Georgia


-------------------------------- Message 2 -------------------------------

Date:  Tue, 15 Apr 2003 18:06:05 -0400
From:  Stirling Newberry <stnewberry at earthlink.net>
Subject:  Re: Academic Boycotts

Policy is a delicate matter, and often policies are set, not because
are to be enforced without exception, but because they set a boundary
between different burdens of proof.  A university department might
have, as a matter of policy, a one course as a prerequesite for
another. The purpose of the policy is to reduce the number of cases
requiring decision to a manageable few, and also make those decisions
more visible, and hence more accountable.

A policy against boycotts would not, therefore, end academic boycotts,
since any policy set could also be overturned.  It would, however,
frame future discourse differently: instead of focusing merely on
whether a particular perceived ill needs some action, symbolic or
otherwise, taken to combat it - it would require that those desiring a
boycott show that it is worth setting aside tradition and previous
consensus to achieve an end. This would, paradoxically, strengthen
academic boycotting, because it would make it a more potent symbol of
the academic community's revulsion in response to particular
practices, since any boycott would have to have met this higher burden
of proof.

The task then would be to phrase the particular policy sufficiently
strongly so that the gravity of engaging in a boycott, which by its
nature is a weapon which harms both guilty and innocent alike, is made
clear. By this means calls for a boycott could quickly be met with a
series of questions: "What precedent would be set by abandoning long
standing policy?" "Is it clear that this precedent is not one which is
likely to be abused in future?" "What compelling case can be made that
a boycott?" "Have all more acceptable channels been exhausted?"

stirling s newberry
stnewberry at earthlink.net
http://www.mp3.com/ssn


-------------------------------- Message 3 -------------------------------

Date:  Wed, 16 Apr 2003 11:43:58 +0900
From:  "Kevin R. Gregg" <gregg at andrew.ac.jp>
Subject:  Re: 14.1109, Disc: Academic Boycotts


Is the unique purpose of a boycott to force the object of that
boycott to change its behavior?  If so, then it probably doesn't
matter what sort of policy LSA adopts, or if it adopts one at all.
But there are a number of products I don't buy, because I believe the
policies of the manufacturers are vile; there are countries I won't
travel to, for tourism or for an academic conference, because they're
police states.  I haven't the slightest hope that I'm having an effect
on them, but I am having an effect on me: I'm disassociating myself,
to that small extent, from evil practices.  I would hope that LSA
would refuse, say, to hold its conference at a hotel operated by scab
labor, whether or not that hotel would be bothered in the least by the
loss of revenue.  There's always room for debate, of course, over the
merits of any given proposed boycott; but surely there are conceivable
cases where an academic society should disassociate itself from some
other institution or individual. There are other principles aside from
those of Universal Grammar.

Kevin R. Gregg
Momoyama Gakuin University
(St. Andrew's University)
1-1 Manabino, Izumi-shi
Osaka, Japan

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