For the record, the views articulated below were among many other ideas of mine that the Boston University Provost, the College of Communication Dean, the Chairman of the Department of Film and Television, the Film Studies program Director, and my colleagues in the Department of Film and Television explicitly objected to my having published on my university faculty web site and told me must be removed by a specific date under threat of the imposition of severe financial and bureaucratic penalties (including having my name and reputation smeared on the internet to destroy my reputation via a university posting against me, and bringing the full force of the university legal department against me to tie me up with legal actions that would bankrupt me if I refused to conform with the censorship demands by the specified date).
I will not name the names of the individual teachers who most vehemently objected to this section of the interview text, but it should not take too much imagination for a reader to see why particular colleagues might disagree with my comments about the limitations of ideological, gender-studies, and multicultural forms of understanding. I understood that, but I had not anticipated their readiness to use censorship to suppress things they disagreed with, nor the readiness of the BU administration to authorize and support their acts of censorship.
Looking back on the events, I realize I should not have been surprised. It's a truism to observe that self-proclaimed worshipers at the twin shrines of "tolerance" and "otherness" are among the most vengefully intolerant of and unremittingly hostile to points of view other than those they already espouse. "Otherness" is only embraced if it manifests itself in officially sanctioned forms. An ideologue is an ideologue no matter what ideology he or she spouts. And the cowardice of administrators in American universities is proverbial. It would be a rare administrator indeed who would tell a professor of gender studies that he or she was out of order to censor and punish a colleague who had different ideas about life--and art.
As I describe in more detail on another page of this site (see "Censorship, Punishment, Abuse, Threats--Being Banned in Boston," available in the side menu), I was told that I should never have said these things, should never have published them, and should never have posted them on my faculty web site, and that I would be punished for having done so. I was yelled at, mocked, and berated in public, in large meetings, in front of junior colleagues, and at other points in front of my own students in public places. I was told I was mentally ill. I was called names. I was told my ideas were dangerous. They had not been approved by the university administration. They threatened things said and done by other professors in my department. They were "uncollegial." They showed I was not "a team player." I was "sick" to have published them. I was "immoral" to have said these things to an interviewer. They were forbidden to be said. Students should not be allowed to see them. They must be suppressed.
In the first of many months of screaming-at-Carney sessions devoted to the subject, I was told to remove this material from my faculty web site. I was yelled at, called names, and had my character and morals attacked for close to an hour for having published these ideas. In a second equally loud and equally emotionally abusive meeting (with many more sessions to follow), I was told that removing this interview or this section alone from the internet would not be enough. I was to remove my entire faculty web site and everything on it from the Boston University server. I was to take it down in its entirety. I would not be allowed to have a faculty web site at Boston University. I and my ideas were too dangerous to allow me to have one. I had said, and presumably would continue to say, things too controversial to allow students to see.
To add one more dimension to the censorship policy, I would note that my Dean, the Dean of the College of Communication, met with me separately in a series of meetings in which he told me--peppered with foul-mouthed obscenities and personal attacks on me, my ideas, and my personality, as was his custom--that I was not allowed to communicate these kinds of ideas in class either. I could not raise them with my students. My ideas were, in my Dean's words, "controversial" (all I could understand is that he had been told this by one of the gender-studies faculty members since he would have no independent basis of judgment on the issues involved), and I was instructed by him in no uncertain terms to avoid the presentation of "controversial" ideas to my students. To forestall any illusions I had about appealing to higher authority, I was also told by the Dean that the University Provost was aware of and had formally endorsed the policy he was promulgating (and that particular unnamed students had been asked to "report" on my classroom conduct--talk about a witch hunt!). To drive home the point, at the Dean's instructions, a university lawyer also met with me and endorsed the in-classroom teaching censorship policy, which stands unaltered and unrepealed to this day.
The specific department meetings I am describing were really just the start of a long series of sessions of public criticism and abuse by BU administrators that extended over many years. Many other screaming and name-calling sessions followed, both in private and in public. Other ceremonies of public criticism, in front of faculty members and my own students, followed. Other attacks on my mental competence followed. The most recent one was, in fact, chaired only a few months ago by my Dean, Thomas Fiedler, the Dean of the College of Communication, in which, in front of my Dean, the Assistant Dean James Shanahan, and a Boston University lawyer Erika Geetter, I was berated by my Chairman (Paul Schneider) and mockingly asked, in a series of deliberately insulting rhetorical questions, why in the world I continued teaching, whether I was at BU only "for the money," why didn't I quit, why did I continue to work at the university? Another university administrator, Assistant Dean Shanahan, all but called me a liar to my face--repeatedly disputing my honesty and the veracity of my account of events (with no independent facts of his own to rebut what I told him, of course, simply as an expression of his personal conviction that I was indeed a liar). Chairman Schneider told me I was guilty of perjury (on the basis of absolutely no actual knowledge in his possession). And, to top it off with icing and a cherry, the university lawyer (the aformentioned Erika Geetter) and my department Chairman (Paul Schneider) both told me I was mentally ill. (I hope I am not leaving anything out of my account, because they certainly didn't!) Meanwhile, throughout the cascade of insults, accusations, and other verbal abuse, my Dean, who as I say was chairing the meeting, sat there and smiled, without ever once intervening to suggest that the name-calling, the accusations that I was a liar and a perjurer, and the charges that I was mentally ill were inappropriate, out of line, or unprofessional.
[The preceding meeting and the events that took place during it are described in more detail on several other blog pages. As a starting point for the interested reader, I would recommend going to: "How (Not) to Conduct a Meeting—Shouts, Name-Calling, Personal Attacks, Threats, Punishments," available in the side menu of this page. The account of the treatment I received during my recent meeting with Dean Tom Fiedler, Assistant Dean Jim Shanahan, Chairman Paul Schneider, and Boston University lawyer Erika Geetter appears toward the end of the blog entry. It will show that I do not exaggerate the unmotivated, unsubstantiated administrative abuse that senior faculty at Boston University are subjected to. As was the case back in the glory days of the John Silber era, they are clearly presumed (and treated as being) guilty until they have proven themselves innocent.]
As the previous set of events, which to repeat took place only a few months ago, illustrates, the department meetings I am describing with respect to the following posting were only the beginning of a pattern of response Boston University administrators have adopted time and time again, and continue to adopt right up to the present. A faculty member's publications were being censored and suppressed. A faculty member's teaching, interactions, and communications with his students (which is what these postings were) were being controlled and limited. Only what administrators approved was allowed to be said, published, or communicated to students by a faculty member. Boston University administrators have done this for years to me. For an even more recent example see “How Marketing and Branding Considerations Limit What Teachers Can Tell Their Students--Or Suggest That They Read at Boston University," available in the side menu.
For other, even more recent illustrations of university censorship against me, threats, and attacks on my character and reputation for taking unfashionable intellectual positions--as well as a little more on the functions of art and contemporary criticism--see another more recent blog posting, available in the right-hand menu under February 2014: "How Can BU Call Itself a University?" That page has some more thoughts about the limitations of ideologically- and culturally-centered film criticism, and describes other examples of Boston University's acts of censorship against me to prevent me from communicating my ideas to my students in the classroom, in emails to them, and in interviews with the media.
Is this what a university is supposed to be doing? Monitoring and controlling what its faculty members publish, what they say to students in class, or what they write to them in emails? Threatening to destroy their reputations with internet postings against them? Threatening them with bankruptcy via legal actions against them if they don't conform to the university's censorship demands? Well, it's what my university does to faculty who say things they don't like. It's how they treat their independent-minded faculty. And continue to treat them right up to the present. [To see how administrators at Johns Hopkins University treat "controversial" faculty publications, see another page on the blog: "A Tale of Two Schools," available via the side menu under the month of November 2013. The difference should tell you everything you need to know about what is wrong with the attitudes, policies, and actions of Boston University.]
How can Boston University President Robert Brown let these things happen? Is he just not paying attention? Is he just asking the perpetrators for their side of things, expecting them to bust themselves? He or any of his representatives have sure never asked me or any of the other numerous faculty and student witnesses (and since many of these events were conducted as deliberate ceremonies of public humiliation, there have been dozens of witness to almost all of them) about any of these events, even after being informed of them by me and by the university Ombuds via hundreds of pages of reports I have filed reporting them. He has done nothing, absolutely nothing to stop them or redress past wrongs. He is clearly not interested in the truth of what has gone on (and continues right up to the present to go on) at administrative levels under him (virtually all of it taking place in the time he has been President, and absolutely none of it addressed, dealt with, or even acknowledged).
Welcome to the "new BU." The John Silber days are alive and well. -- Ray Carney