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Canberra University stands up for academic freedom

December 9th, 2010

Oz editor Chris Mitchell’s defamation action against academic Julie Posetti is so obviously baseless that his only hope can have been that Posetti would not have the resources to fight. Fortunately[1] Canberra University, where she works, has taken a stand in support of academic freedom, and is defending the action. The letter of reply to Mitchell’s lawyers, posted here, is good reading, including the observation

We note also that, while we appreciate that what is published in The Australian (of which your client serves as editor in chief) may not necessarily always reflect your client’s own personal views and is not determinative of the position, it is nevertheless somewhat telling that the “Media diary” article titled “The Posetti tapes” appearing in the online version of The Australian on 30 November 2010 suggested that the “Tweets are a fair summary of what Wahlquist said”.

The line of defence taken by the lawyers is the correct one of fair reporting of a matter of public interest, but I hope they also do discovery for a truth and public benefit defence – we might find out how it is that News Ltd journalists all know what line to take on so many issues.

fn1. One might suppose this to be a given. Sadly, plenty of corporate universities in Australist have done their best to stifle academics who annoy powerful interests, not to mention those who criticise their own administration.

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  1. jquiggin
    December 13th, 2010 at 11:45 | #1

    After giving the derivation, this source notes:

    Normally Berkshire and Berkeley would be pronounced Barkshire and Barkeley. This expression is generally accepted as inoffensive despite its source. Also “burk”.

  2. December 13th, 2010 at 11:49 | #2

    If the rhyming slang fits…

  3. paul walter
    December 13th, 2010 at 13:14 | #3

    In the light of# 1, must widen my search for nineteenth century history to include Edmund Berk of Burkshire and Bark and Wills, also Bishop Barkly and metaphysics/

  4. Hal9000
    December 13th, 2010 at 14:24 | #4

    Our esteemed host censored a similarly obscure, and similar, reference of mine not long ago. Perhaps this free speech thing is taking off… I can imagine a far distant time where doubles ententres at the ‘Are you being served?’ level can be exchanged among consenting adults in the moderated blogosphere. Dreamin’, I know.

  5. Chris W
    December 13th, 2010 at 21:26 | #5

    Oh. My. Good. Lord. How am I going to break the news to my aged (and straight-laced) Mum that one of her favourite epithets is a bit more … er … robust … that she ever imagined ?!

    Thanks Prof Q … that site’s gone straight to ‘Bookmarks’ :-)

  6. Alice
    December 13th, 2010 at 21:36 | #6

    @jquiggin
    Oh – Berkshire Hunt LOL – I didnt know that!

  7. jquiggin
    December 14th, 2010 at 10:47 | #7

    @Hal9000
    Sorry for the inconsistency – can’t recall your exact words. As Chris W above suggests, “berk” seems to have entirely escaped its origins.

    Anyway, I promise that your next double entendre will be allowed through.

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