Forget the Footnotes

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The story of this blog and the LSE authorities has made it into the papers. First The Beaver, The Guardian and then Times Higher Educational Supplement. I’d be very interested to hear your views.

Meanwhile I’ve turned down an interview with the Sunday Times and an offer from Mail on Sunday to write an article on why academics are so lazy. I suggested to the Mail that I’d write something about freedom of speech and blogging but that clearly sounded too high-brow for them. I guess I blew my chance to break into the mainstream.

A publisher has approached me for a book about blogging at the LSE. I don’t think I’ll do it though. I mean, I really shouldn’t. It wouldn’t be right, right? Who’s interested in that kind of stuff anyway? And more importantly: it probably wouldn’t count towards promotion.

Back to the Guardian article: since not everyone cares about the who-said-what-to-whom aspect of this story, I’ll put my own comments below. If you’re interested please click on the ‘read the rest of this entry’ link.

I always wondered what the official LSE statement would look like. How do you defend hypocrisy? Now we know:

A terse statement from the LSE today said: “Following complaints made by staff about the content of Dr Ringmar’s lecture to the open day, and further complaints about offensive and potentially defamatory material in Dr Ringmar’s blog (at that time connected to the LSE website) that came to light after the lecture, Dr Ringmar received a reprimand from his convenor. We note that Dr Ringmar appears to have removed the objectionable material from his blog and regard that matter as closed.”

An LSE spokeswoman responded: “Dr Ringmar has had a number of different versions of the lecture on his blog and the latest version is not the lecture that was given.”

This is a bunch of untruths and easily exposed evasions. Let me explain:

  • the complaints about my Open Day speech were made by an LSE administrator, present at the time, who works with student recruitment. The claim was simply was that I had departed from the official truth as given by the Powerpoint presentation. There was nothing whatsoever in the speech that was offensive or abusive.
  • there was never any ‘offensive and potentially defamatory material in Dr Ringmar’s blog.’ All it ever contained were things that departed from the official sales-pitch. At the same time this is a very sneaky tactic on the part of the School. How can I ever prove that I never called the director a bastardo imbecile or the convenor of my department a kn�ln�sad fl�skpotta? How can you ever prove that you didn’t say something?
  • What I can prove is that both the LSE director and the convenor of my department objected in the strongest possible terms to entries on the blog which always have been there and still are. The material has not been removed. The ‘English professors’ entry is one example. This is the entry Davies called ’slanderous’ and which led him to ask me to ‘carefully consider my actions.’ This is intimidation and censorship! I have some very interesting email documentation to back this up.
  • the statement that my blog at the time was ‘connected to the LSE website’ is untrue. The blog was always on my own server (with Streamlinenet, incidentally, located somewhere in Gloucester, I think) and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the LSE server. For a while there was a link to my site from the Government Department’s web site but it is outrageous to imply that this somehow gave the School a right to censor me. If this was the case, a link to the LSE website from this blog would give me the right to censor them.
  • Note how the LSE administration inadvertently admits to continously monotoring my blog ;-)

The Times Higher Educational Supplement is saying that I’m resigning over this blogging business. People have asked me if this really is true. Is it? Well, yes and no.

  • I was always planning to go on sabbatical this autumn and to work for the two subsequent years at the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. The fact that I had this previously made plan is no doubt what emboldened me to stand up for might rights in relation to the LSE.
  • But I was always planning to come back to London. These plans are now abandoned. I don’t want to work in a place that is this hypocritical on matters of free speech and that treats its staff in this manner. What I’m particularly saddened about is the reaction of the big professors — no one has stood up for the values the School claims to believe in.


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