A Most Unwelcome Development
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2012
Boston College filed its notice of appeal yesterday in the court case over the Belfast Project subpoenas, but the substance, tone, and seriousness of that appeal remains unclear. A detailed appellate brief, explaining their argument in full, is probably a few weeks away. But for now, we have this statement from BC spokesman Jack Dunn, made today in a brief interview with the local NPR affiliate:
“It appears that these interviews have limited probative value to the criminal investigation,” Dunn said. “We are engaged in this issue for the sake of academic research and the enterprise of oral history.”
This framing is useless in any kind of defense of academic research, and will result — at best — in the delivery of a slightly narrower set of confidential research materials to government. It acknowledges the premise that universities can be turned into police agencies, interviewing suspects and delivering interviews to criminal justice systems. Compare BC’s position to this one if you want to see what an argument for real freedom of inquiry looks like.
If this is where they’re going, their case is a defeat before it even begins.