LINGUIST List 14.1133

Thu Apr 17 2003

Disc: Academic Boycotts

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Dick Hudson, Academic boycotts
  2. Michael A. Covington, Re: 14.1130, Disc: Academic Boycotts
  3. Stanley Dubinsky, on academic boycotts

Message 1: Academic boycotts

Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2003 09:53:51 +0100
From: Dick Hudson <>
Subject: Academic boycotts

I agree with Martin Haspelmath that it would be wrong to rule out all
academic boycotts, regardless of the circumstances. As Stirling
Newberry says, the LSA statement could be interpreted simply as a
defeasible default position, but other contributors seem to take it as

Maybe it would be helpful to think of the issue in terms of OT. There
are two potentially conflicting constraints: 
AFT = Academic Free Trade: academic material - ideas, publications,
people - should flow unimpeded.
PP = Political Protest: we should protest against offensive politics
by withdrawing support from those responsible. The question is how
these two constraints are ranked.

a. AFT >> PP: Political Protest is always wrong if it takes the form
of an academic boycott, because the purpose of this is precisely to
impede the flow of academic material.

b. PP >> AFT: Political Protest in the form of academic boycotts is
always legitimate.

c. PP = AFT: Political Protest and Academic Free Trade are equally
important, so academic boycotts are legitimate in some cases but not
in all.

In other words, inherently valuable and worthy principles may compete
with each other, just as in theoretical linguistics, and we have to
find some way to resolve the conflict. This is difficult and messy
(just as in many areas of linguistics), and none of us can claim the
moral high ground because the answer is obvious. And of course it's
not enough to choose in general terms between those three rankings -
you also have to evaluate the offensiveness of the politics and the
degree of responsibility of those affected.

This is why I oppose any blanket endorsement of AFT >> PP. The world
just isn't that simple.

Dick Hudson

Richard (= Dick) Hudson

Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London,
Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re: 14.1130, Disc: Academic Boycotts

Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2003 09:34:56 -0400
From: Michael A. Covington <>
Subject: Re: 14.1130, Disc: Academic Boycotts

As I understand it, the LSA resolution was prompted by a "boycott" in which
some Israeli linguists were kicked off editorial boards because of Israeli
government policies which they personally did not support. What could they
have done? Nothing. What sense did the punishment make? None.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: on academic boycotts

Date: Tue, 15 Apr 03 11:20:09 EDT
From: Stanley Dubinsky <DUBINSKVM.SC.EDU>
Subject: on academic boycotts


To follow up on Shalom Lappin's message, I agree that there should be
no place for boycotts that discriminate against individuals (as many
of the recent Israel boycotts are designed to do). In this regard, I
would like to share a recent article from the Chronicle of Higher
Education, forwarded to me by the author.

While few people will agree with every point made in this
piece, it is nonetheless extremely insightful, and worth reading.

The article is available online at this address:

For those who cannot access the Chronicle pages, the text of the
can also be found at:

Stan Dubinsky

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue