Former Professor Peter Ridd was sacked for criticizing his university colleagues at James Cook Uni. He won a $1.2m claim for wrongful dismissal, but JCU appealed, and won the appeal. So Ridd is taking his case to the High Court. Today’s small win merely means they will hear his appeal.
Meanwhile academics all over Australia know that right now, if they spotted fraud, poor reasoning, or incompetence they can’t point that out publicly. Our academic system is corrupt to the very core, seeking not the truth, but just more grants and to act as a machine to elect the kind of governments that will give them more money, easier conditions and suits most of their personal political tastes too. James Cook Uni has wasted a million or two of taxpayers funds seeking to protect the Vice Chancellors ability to sack anyone she damn-well likes for spurious reasons like “not being collegial” or daring to write a sarcastic line in an email. A few months ago, JAmes Cook still hadn’t got far investigating the actual alleged fraud, nor in releasing data about the Great Barrier Reef that they profess to care so much about. What matters to JCU? Not science.
Peter Ridd is a brave man taking on The Machine:
“I think it means that academics are going to be really fearful of saying anything that’s robust on any matter and of course, the left wing and the right wing are now agreeing on this,” he said.
Dr Ridd said that if the universities weren’t for robust debate then “what the hell are they there for.”
“Universities are the only organisations that have the academic freedom … We have it for a very good reason because we want our academics to debate and argue to come up with ideas and some of those will be bad ideas and there’ll be shut down.”
“People have always been upset, people were upset with Martin Luther, people were upset with Martin Luther King and, you know, these robust discussions need to be had.”
Publicity over Peter Ridd’s case meant that the Australian Government has changed the law to make sure that Academic free speech is written into employment contracts (though even that banal necessity took several years to achieve).
Though even if Ridd win’s again, in the end, what academic would want to hope that they too could raise funds to take their case to the High Court. As Mark Steyn says, the Process is the Punishment.
Those responsible at JCU must lose their jobs at the very least.