Wednesday, November 13, 2013

After the Streisand Effect-- All Quiet on the Midwestern Front?

I just read in the Chronicle about your blog - I wish I had thought of something like that here before I stepped down as dean. I entered academic (sic) to contribute to 'a life of the mind' and to be able to work in a just, inclusive, collaborative environment. I have been fortunate to find that in several institutions but here in ______ I have found an abusive, punitive, totally unprofessional environment stemming from a socio-pathic provost & a co-dependent president. I …am in several legal battles with the 'university' so a blog would work - lawyers don't want me to have anything to do with institution except through them & I've asked AAUP to investigate faculty interference & tenure issues so don't want to mess that up.

Anyway - I just want to thank you & tell you, from someone who has been a faculty member/administrator for over 35 years (1st post was in Jan 1977) I respect & admire what you are doing.

                             --from  a Professor at a state university in Massachusetts

You're (sic) faculty blog fills in what traditional newspapers do not report. Our local newspaper, __________ is not much more than a PR arm of [the university] And, [another paper], though more independent than our local newspaper, will not report the details that you or I have knowledge of and evidence for. That's what our blogs do best. As long as you provide evidence, documentation, proof for your stories and label your editorials, folks will pay attention.

Of course, faculty are afraid of retaliation. You have to lead the way and that's what you are doing.

And don't worry that only a few faculty participate in your blog. Or that some moron administrator spouts his propaganda like "only a small group" are critical. If you weren't having an effect, they'd ignore you. That would be, in my view, troublesome.

I outlasted most of our miscreant administrators at _________and they, not me, give me credit for having played a small part in getting them gone.

We do our small part making our home, schools, a better place.

                                                  ---from a  Professor in Mississippi.

And there are other emails or comments of support the CSUFacVoice bloggers have received from faculty in other far off places like California, Wisconsin, and even UIC!

Well Land o' Goshen! Who'da thunk it?

Maybe faculty around the country are just expressing how sick and tired they are of phoney administrators and their "corporate models" of governance (forget the shared part).  

At any rate, I had never heard of the “Streisand Effect” before I read it in one of the comments on one of the several articles that have appeared about the CSU since Patrick Cage issued his memo of “cease and desist” to us.

The "Streisand Effect":
Named after the American singer and actress Barbra Streisand, the Streisand Effect describes how efforts to suppress a juicy piece of online information can backfire and end up making things worse for the would-be censor. Ms Streisand inadvertently gave her name to the phenomenon in 2003, when she sued the California Coastal Records Project, which maintains an online photographic archive of almost the entire California coastline, on the grounds that its pictures included shots of her cliffside Malibu mansion, and thus invaded her privacy.
That raised hackles online…Ms Streisand… was scorned for what was seen as a frivolous suit that was harmful to freedom of speech. As the links proliferated, thousands of people saw the pictures of Ms Streisand's house—far more than would otherwise ever have bothered to browse through the CCRP's archives. By the time a judge eventually threw the suit out, Ms Streisand's privacy had been far more thoroughly compromised than it would have been had she and her lawyers left the CCRP alone.

The Economist explains: What is the Streisand effect? Apr 15th 2013, 23:50 by T.C.

Going Viral

In case you need to know what it means to "go viral" the Streisand Effect began with an article by Juan Perez in the Chicago Tribune:

"Chicago State University wants faculty blog shut down"
By Juan Perez Jr., Chicago Tribune reporter
7:23 a.m. CST, November 12, 2013,0,1259026.story

This story and a little video of the reporter discussing it got picked up by a few other sources and printed more or less the same information. Some of these media are the usual suspects, but a couple of surprises (the AAUP Academe Blog and an academic freedom organization, The Fire). Links are listed below 

"Chicago State U. Orders a Faculty Blog to Shut Down"

Nov. 12, 2013 Charles Huckabee

INSIDE HIGHER ED"Chicago State vs. Faculty Blog"
November 12, 2013 by Scott Jaschik
Read more:

"Chicago State administration puts foot in it again"  by Hank Reichman

...“A thuggish effort…”
While Chicago State may have an argument that use of its trademarks without permission is illegal, its contention that the bloggers cannot use its name or must adhere to some ill-defined standard of “civility” is entirely without legal, much less ethical, foundation.  Anyone who might be misled to believe that the blog is an official publication of the University needs some serious assistance in life.  This is clearly an independent, albeit critical, voice, maintained outside the university and hence fully protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the most basic principles of academic freedom.  Moreover, the publicly funded university’s claim that the blog violates its standards of civility is itself a flagrant violation of principles of academic freedom long endorsed by the AAUP.

Chicago State’s demand that the blog be shut down, and not simply that use of its trademarks cease, indicates clearly that the administration’s intent is to silence a dissenting faculty voice.  The university’s letter is little more than a thuggish effort to bully and frighten, with no legal or moral justification.  Its action therefore deserves the same sort of condemnation and contempt that greeted its previous bone-headed effort to require prior approval of all faculty communications with the media, including contributions to social media.  I hope Professor Beverly and the other bloggers at “Crony State” stand firm against this demand.  The AAUP certainly is ready to provide whatever assistance we can.

You can read the whole thing and excerpts of the AAUP statement on Academic Freedom and Electronic Communications below.

And thanks to an ex-colleague from CSU I found out aout this organization:

THE FIRE: Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
"Chicago State Tries to Shut Down Faculty Blog"
November 12, 2013  by Susan Kruth
Cage also states in his letter that “the lack of civility and professionalism expressed on the blog violates the University’s values and policies requiring civility and professionalism of all University Faculty members.”
FIRE has explained before that “civility” mandates often impede free and open debate on college campuses and can easily be used by administrators to censor speech based on its content or viewpoint. Even “uncivil” speech is constitutionally protected unless it falls into one of the few and narrowly-defined categories of speech traditionally unprotected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court noted in Terminello v. Chicago (1949) that free speech “may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.” In this case, such a result might be inevitable given the striking accusations contained within the blog. Last week a writer for the blog remarked on CSU President Wayne Watson’s previous complaints about the blog’s “incivility”: “I am not sure how to say in a nice way that someone has lied.”

 Charlotte says:

"Hey, wait a minute, I thought they said, 'no one reads the blog'..."


  1. Just imagine how many people will post all of this on their Facebook pages. Oh my!

  2. @ R. Benny:

  3. Here's another blog calling Chicago State "America's Very Own Academic North Korea!"