The following is a news analysis.
It used to be that many college professors were often encouraged to be free-thinkers, and to encourage their students to think critically about information-- whether it comes from the political left, right, neither, or from corporate interests.
We know that the dialogue and mood on many campuses have changed radically to a point where some of these professors, who were once widely-lauded, become controversialized and attacked by the interests who want to control the dissemination of information.
Such is the case with New York University professor Mark Crispin Miller who was teaching, aptly, a propaganda class.
Miller has increasingly become a target of propagandists for his teachings that often veer from the popular government, media, and academic narratives; and prompt students to think outside the establishment box. Miller also teaches students to recognize propaganda techniques and tactics as they use their critical thinking skills to research and decide issues.
When Covid-19 broke out, Miller took the stance of many independent scientists, questioning some of the motives of government and public health officials, as well as their often-vacillating stances on Covid-19.
In September of 2020, one of Miller's students complained to the university and on Twitter that Miller had done something in class no obedient official should do: questioned the use and effectiveness of masks, among other measures.
Some in the news dutifully picked up on and amplified the complaint to controversialize Miller. He soon became subject of a university investigation that, at times, had the hallmarks of a witch hunt, with some of his colleagues joining the call for him to be fired for having dared to go off the prevailing narrative. He has suffered health problems, dealt with the college proposing to change his assignment (and even do away with his popular propaganda course), and had to seek legal counsel.
After more than a year of process, Miller says he has finally just been notified that the university's "review" of his "conduct" is complete and that there will be no action taken against him.
Below is the letter Miller wrote to summarize this latest action:
On Wednesday afternoon (12/8), I was informed by Jack Knott, Dean of NYU's Steinhardt School, that his office's "review" of my "conduct," carried out at the insistence of my department colleagues last October, finds that my teaching has not violated any of NYU's policies, and, therefore, that the university will take no further action in my "case" (as there isn't one).
This is, of course, good news; so it may be churlish of me to observe that, since they came to that conclusion in the spring, they might have let me know before this week.
In any case, this decision is a great relief, for two reasons.
First, I no longer have to worry that I might be harried any further by the university (over this matter, anyway); and, second, through this formal exculpation, NYU has, tacitly, disavowed my colleagues' slanderous petition to the dean back in October, 2020, demanding that he order that "review"—because, they argued, my "conduct" in the classroom had violated NYU policy. It was so egregious, they asserted, that it ought to nullify my academic freedom, so that I might be duly punished (i.e., fired): for my routine "hate speech," "attacks on students and others in our community," "aggressions and microaggressions," and other crimes that I have not committed, ever, at NYU or anywhere else.
It is because of those wild lies, and my colleagues' refusal to retract them (or even to reply to me about them), that I am suing them for libel. While we await the judge to rule on their motion to dismiss (filed back in February), I am encouraged that the university appears not to support their drive against me; and I continue to look forward to my vindication, as a victory for academic freedom and free speech.
MCM [Mark Crispin Miller]
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