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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is a university a "law free" zone?

I remember reading a long time ago that criminals being pursued by the law in medieval times could duck into a church and receive sanctuary from the law. This is where the term “sanctuary,” which now refers to the part of a church, in which the primary services are held, derives.

Is the univeristy like the medieval church?  Should academic fraud be exempt from criminal investigation? The editors of the Virginian Pilot seem to think so. As do the professors who signed a petition to have Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Attorney General drop his investigation of possible fraud by Michael Mann while he was on the faculty of the University of Virginia.

My personal opinion is that Michael Mann and the researchers at the University of East Anglia were leading a crusade. A crusade that used “managed” data to “prove” a thesis that they had pre-determined. The net effect of this was that they gained fame and recognition for “proving” man-made global warming. It also led many of the world’s political leaders to propose laws and regulations that would increase their control of human activity in their spheres of influence: an objective that is congenial to political leaders everywhere. It is also my opinion that man made global warming is a crock.

It will be hard to prove that the data manipulation was clear-cut fraud as defined by law. So in the end, I believe that this investigation will not lead to Mann’s arrest or imprisonment.

However, it is encouraging that some people on the Right are as willing as those on the left to use the law as a weapon. And it is a teachable moment, as Barack Obama might say. For literal generations, the Right has been content to criticize the criminalization of political differences. But it has done nothing more than that. I find it refreshing that Ken Cuccinelli has taken the conflict up a notch. In war, the aggressor sets the rules. That’s true whether the war is physical, rhetorical or political. The Left has been active while the Right has whined.

I don’t know Ken Cuccinelli, but if he continues to act in this manner, he has my support. It’s refreshing to hear the Left whine. I’m waiting for the next batch of outraged academics to have their letters printed in the Virginian Pilot, and to read the next spittle-spewing editorial. When they whine, you know you have reached them. There’s an old saying here in the South, “the hit dog hollers.”

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