Censure Tom Flanagan

Open letter to University of Calgary President Dr. Elizabeth Cannon regarding Dr. Tom Flanagan’s remarks

with 46 comments

If you are a member of the U of C community (or even if you are not) and you share our sentiment, we ask that you send a copy of this letter along with your thoughts to Dr. Cannon at president at ucalgary dot ca. You may also wish to CC the following addresses: chair at ucalgary dot ca, senate at ucalgary dot ca, jim dot dinning at senate dot ucalgary dot ca, alumni at ucalgary dot ca, eosler at ucalgary dot ca.

Update (Dec. 16) After 10 days without a response from the university, I sent a follow-up note to Dr. Cannon today.

Dear Dr. Cannon,

Ten days ago, 60 U of C alumni and 25 others including current U of C students and staff as well as supporters from across Canada and abroad sent an open letter asking the University of Calgary to respond to Dr. Tom Flanagan’s remarks advocating for the murder of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on the November 30 broadcast of the CBC’s Power & Politics with Evan Solomon (the letter and the original e-mail are attached below).

While noting that Dr. Flanagan had apologized, we asked that the University of Calgary distance itself publicly from Dr. Flanagan’s remarks (which it has done, albeit very weakly – http://www.ucalgary.ca/news/utoday/december7-2010), that it condemn Dr. Flanagan in the harshest possible terms (no progress) and that it censure Dr. Flanagan for abusing the good name of the university (no progress).

We find the university’s response to Dr. Flanagan’s remarks deeply inadequate, especially considering international press coverage which has done tremendous damage to the U of C’s reputation. Also, the U of C’s response seems incredibly weak when compared to responses from well-respected public NGOs such as International PEN, from newspaper sources including the Editorial Board of the Guardian, and from the political realm where the communications director for the Canadian Prime Minister Dmitiri Soudas found the time to condemn the remarks.

While we continue to be disappointed with the university’s position, we are deeply insulted by the absence of any response to our letter from President Cannon, her office or any other relevant body at the university. If the university does not think enough of 60-plus of its own alumni to answer a letter, then how can it expect those same alumni to stand up for the U of C within their communities or to contribute their time and resources to university endeavors?

Sincerely,

Kris Kotarski (BA ’04, MSS ’09), on behalf of 97 signatories listed at http://censureflanagan.wordpress.com/

Update (Dec. 9) The Canadian Press reports that the Toronto woman who felt threatened after receiving an e-mail from Dr. Flanagan has received an apology. Meanwhile, in the Calgary Herald, University of Calgary Law Professor Peter Bowal writes  about the double standard on free speech at the university (where students are punished and sued by the university, while professors are not).

Update (Dec. 8): Complete silence from everyone at the university thus far. Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail reports that Dr. Flanagan has threatened another person. Is threatening two people in one week a fireable offence at the University of Calgary? You may wish to e-mail the accounts below to get an answer.

Update (Dec. 6): Will keep adding signatures to the open letter if you post them or send them to kkotarski at gmail dot com.

Update (Dec. 6): The signed final version of this letter (same as below) was sent to Dr. Cannon on December 6, 2010. A copy was also sent to the University of Calgary Chancellor, the University of Calgary Senate, the University of Calgary General Faculties Council, the University of Calgary Board of Governors, and the University of Calgary Alumni Association. This page will be updated if and when we receive a reply. Please stay tuned, and thank you all again for your signatures and your support.

Update (Dec. 4) The Calgary Herald published our letter on Saturday, December 4. We will send it to Dr. Cannon with all of your signatures on Monday at noon. If you know any fellow alumni who may wish to sign our letter, please pass it along.


Dr. Elizabeth Cannon
Office of the President
Executive Suite
Administration Building, Room 100
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 1N4
president@ucalgary.ca

CC:      Chancellor Jim Dinning
University of Calgary Senate
Chair Board of Governors Jack Perraton
University of Calgary General Faculties Council
President U of C Alumni Association Kenneth R. McKinnon

December 2, 2010 (Dated December 6 in the final note to Dr. Cannon)

Dear Dr. Cannon,

On November 30, 2010, University of Calgary Political Science Professor Dr. Tom Flanagan advocated for the political murder of Julian Assange, the founder of the international non-profit media organization Wikileaks.

Speaking on a national CBC broadcast of Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, Dr. Flanagan said: “I think that Assange should be assassinated, actually. I think that Obama should put on a contract and maybe use a drone or something.”

When host Evan Solomon interrupted saying, “Tom, that’s pretty harsh stuff,” Dr. Flanagan replied, “Well, I’m feeling very manly today.”

He ended the segment with, “I wouldn’t feel unhappy if Assange disappeared.”

Dr. Flanagan has since apologized for his comments, telling CBC News: “I regret that I made a glib comment about a serious issue.”

He later added that: “I am glad that everyone is condemning it, and I condemn it also.”

His prompt apology is most certainly welcome, but unfortunately for the U of C’s reputation, the damage has been done. A number of the most prominent English-language news sources in the world including the Telegraph, the Nation, the Jerusalem Post, National Public Radio (NPR) and the Guardian carried Dr. Flanagan’s remarks, along with major Canadian news outlets and countless blogs.

Dr. Flanagan’s initial remarks remain relevant to the U of C community because although debate and even harsh disagreement about the Wikileaks release are not only inevitable but perfectly natural for an open and democratic society like Canada’s, we must draw a line at advocating for political murder, something that Dr. Flanagan failed to do.

Better than most, a professor of political science should understand that academic freedom is not possible without political freedom, and that political freedom cannot survive in a climate where journalists and opponents of a ruling regime hear public intellectuals advocate for their assassination on the nightly news.

If this were a Russian, Chinese or Iranian intellectual calling for the murder of a regime opponent, Canadians would be appalled. Considering Canada’s proud tradition of political freedom, it is all the more offensive to hear an active member of the University of Calgary faculty and the former chief of staff and campaign manager for the sitting Canadian Prime Minister do the same.

The University of Calgary should distance itself publicly from Dr. Flanagan’s initial remarks, condemn Dr. Flanagan in the harshest possible terms, and censure him for abusing the good name of the university and for the damage this has done to the reputation of not only the school, but of the 150,000 alumni and the degrees they hold.

This should be done peacefully. After all, even though thousands of University of Calgary students, staff and faculty have disagreed with Dr. Flanagan’s opinions over the years, no one has publicly called for him to be murdered, even in jest.

Sincerely,

Kris Kotarski
BA History & International Relations ’04
MSS Military and Strategic Studies ’09

Andrew Amey
BComm Finance ’04 (UofC)
MCP City Planning ’10 (MIT)
MSc Transportation ’10 (MIT)

Katy Anderson (student)
BA Political Science ’12
BA Religious Studies & Applied Ethics ’12

Maria Cristina Bacalso
BA Political Science ’06

Lawrence Bailey
BA International Relations ’04

Margaret (Van Tighem) Bailey
BA ’80

Bob Barnetson
BA ’94
MA ’97
PhD ’99

Chris Beauchamp
BA Political Science ’08

Blake Belding
BComm ’10

Richard Bergen
BA Economics ’04

Albert Bracci
BComm ’03

Aneel Brar
BA Political Science ’05
BSc Biology ’05

Dalmazio (Dale) Brisinda
BSc Computer Science, ’94
BSc Pure Mathematics ’98
MSc Computer Science ’98

David Caplan
MBA ’99
LLB ’99

Mary Chan
BA English ’01

Jaro Cooper
MBA ’99

Theo de Raadt
BSc Computer Science ’92

Almoonir Dewji
BSc Engineering ’86

Kelly Dowdell, MA
BA Latin American Studies ’02

Ayan Egeh
BA International Relations
BA Political Science

Doreen E. Eustace
BEd ’89
MEd ’99

Angela Ferguson
BA International Relations ’09

Christina Fry (student)
MA Religious Studies ’12

Tony Grimes
BSc Environmental Science ’01

Aaron Hofman (Student)
BA Philosophy ’11

Graeme Howland
BComm ’04

Illana Huckell
BA Religious Studies ’09

Salma Hussain
LLB ’07
BA English Literature ’02

Sarah Megan Hope
BA Psychology ’02

Ashley Humphreys
BFA Drama ’05

Darcy Ippolito
BSc Geography ’06

Valerie Jobson
BSc Biology ’80
BA History ’87
MA History ’90

Sheena Johnson
BSc Actuarial Science ’03
MED Environmental Design ’08

Susan Aileen Kent
BA Honours ’67

Mary Kosta
MA ’86

Steven Kimler
BSc Computer Science ’10

Sara Klimes
BA Law & Society ’06

Nicole Kobie
BA Political Science ’03

Mary Kosta
MA ’86

Jeff Kubik
BA Communications ’05

Joël Laforest
BA Religious Studies ’08

Josh Lavoie
BA Economics 07

Kallen Law
BA English ’10

Kristian Leach
BA English ’06

John Leung Chung-Yin
BA Political Science & Historical Studies ’06

Andrea Llewellyn (student)
BA Development Studies ’11

Kat Lord (student)
BA Political Science ’11

Natalie Lucyk
BCS Communications Studies ’10
BEd Elementary Education ’12

Lindsay Luhnau
BA Political Science ’04
MEd ’11

Dr. Tom Lynch
PhD ’07

Jeannette Mandrusiak (staff member)
University of Calgary

Nitin Manerikar
BSc ’90

Nayden Markatchev
MSc Computer Science ’08

Kendra Marks
BA Honours Religious Studies ’08
MA Religious Studies ’11

Tim Marks
MA French ’92

Andrew McIntyre
BA Political Science ’05

Dr. Nadine Moneta
U of C Family Medicine Postgraduate Program ’03

Dan Pagan
 (student)
BA Greek & Roman Studies ’11
BA Law & Society ’11

Dr. Robert G. Petry
MSc Mathematics ’98

Barbara Pietrzykowski
BSc General Math ’08
BSW ’11

Corinna Ramsay
MA English & Political Science ’04

Anup Raniga
BSc Mathematics 07

Richard Rawnsley
BComm ’07

Sarah Rich-Zendel
MA Interdisciplinary Graduate Program ’11
BA International Indigenous Studies ’07

Ændrew Rininsland
BA Communications Studies ’10

Andrew D F Ross
BA Philosophy ’04

Vladimir Sedach
BSc Pure Mathematics ’07

Angel Seguin
BED Environmental Design ’03

Darlene Seto
BA International Relations ’09

Amir Sharar
BSc Computer Science ’08

Sherri Shergill
BA Communications ’08
BA English ’08

Amitpal Singh (student)
BA Political Science ’12

Natalie Sit
BA Communications ’05

Ryan Slifka
BA English ’08

Dr. Craig Snyder PhD
BA Political Science ’87

David Sol
BA Communications ’04

Michael Soron
BA Political Science ’07

Tyler Soron (student)
BA Science, Technology & Society ’12

Matt Stambaugh
BA Political Science ’03

Erin Welk
BA Honours Geography ’04

Others (non U of Calgary) who offered their support:

Dr. Pierre H. Vachon (Ph.D. Cell Biology)
Associate Professor
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
University of Sherbrooke

Gary Kinsman
Professor of Sociology
Laurentian University
Sudbury

Michael Keefer
Professor
School of English and Theatre Studies
University of Guelph

Saima Siddiqui
Political Science
Memorial University

Wayne Borean
Political Commentator

Evan Price
BComm Finance ’12
Dalhousie University

Yvonne Fukada

Michael Spacek
PhD Candidate
Carleton University

Blythe Butler
BComm ’00
University of Alberta

Peter Belsten
Musician UK

Gillian Wallace
PhD Religious Studies ’95
University of Ottawa

Laurent (Jeff) Dubois
BA Political Science ’76
University of Alberta

Patricia H. Kaye
BEd ’72
MEd ’81
University of Alberta

J. Lievisse Adriaanse
The Netherlands

Bob Beck
Computing Science
University of Alberta

Tom Johnston
HBA York university
BEd Lakehead University
Orillia, Ontario

Dr. Robert C Dickson
Calgary, AB

Cathy O’Donoughue
St. Johns Fl

Timothy Schwinghamer
Plant Science PhD student, McGill University

Michael Spacek
PhD Candidate, Carleton University

Alan Aveley

Laurel L. Russwurm

Kevin Sheerstone

Written by kotarski

December 3, 2010 at 5:59 pm

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