BC and the Belfast Project: A Scholar's Privilege to Disobey

The ongoing imbroglio over Boston College’s Belfast Oral History Project has been disappointing at almost every turn. The case involves a subpoena by the Northern Irish police force of confidential materials collected by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, two scholars who worked with BC to create an oral history of the Irish “Troubles” as told by former IRA and Loyalist members closest to the fighting. In my latest piece for my Forbes.com blog, “Injustice Department,” I discuss the grave implications for First Amendment rights resulting from the blithe willingness of Boston’s federal courts to jeopardize scholarly research in the name of dubious law enforcement claims. Furthermore, the article raises the important question of what could have been done differently to allow the scholars, like reporters whose confidential notes are being subpoenaed, to resist the disclosure of their sources through civil disobedience.

You can find the article after the jump.
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The 15th Annual Boston Phoenix Muzzle Awards, student edition

Sticks and stones might break your bones, but on college campuses in the Northeast, words can get you expelled. The Boston Phoenix gives its annual “Muzzle Awards” to the year’s worst free speech violators, with a sidebar highlighting the most egregious violators among academic institutions. The academic Muzzle Award winners this year—Boston College, Bridgewater State, and Harvard University—faced stiff competition. But, in the end, they stood out for their significant contributions to the culture of censorship now running rampant on our nation’s campuses. Click here to access Dan Kennedy’s “15th Annual Muzzle Awards” and here to access my “Muzzles on campus” sidebar. An excerpt after the jump...

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Boston College, the Belfast Project and the Academy of Betrayal

Last week I co-wrote, with my research assistant Daniel Schwartz, a blog post for the Huffington Post about the legal battles surrounding Boston College's Belfast Project. The Belfast Project, a groundbreaking oral history undertaking conducted by former IRA member Anthony McIntyre and journalist Ed Maloney, was meant to chronicle "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland. They conducted ground-level interviews with key players from both sides, seeking candid and open records of the fighting in exchange for the promise that the testimonies would be confidential until death.

But now that the Police Service of Northern Ireland has decided to reopen a 40-year-old cold murder case, the British government has subpoenaed the Belfast Project's records for use in the investigation. In our blog post, we discuss BC's lackluster legal defense of academic freedom and the unconscionable dereliction of its duty to defend its scholars' First Amendment rights.
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