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July 2005, Week 3


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Leo Enticknap <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 20 Jul 2005 20:00:31 +0100
text/plain (47 lines)
Donald Larsson writes:

>If, for instance, a committee member discovered that a candidate had
>created a blog denying the Holocaust, it would be very likely to
>have some effect on that candidate's chances, even if the job
>description had no direct relationship to the blog content.

The key phrase here, IMHO, is 'If, for instance, a committee member
discovered'. Even though the humanitites-based academic study of
film and broadcast media is a relatively small profession, I'd still
be surprised if an interview panel (I presume this phrase is pretty
much the UK equivalent of 'search committee') member would take it
upon him- or herself to do the Google searching to find out if an
applicant writes a blog about life, the universe and
everything. I've now been a member of two panels, and I didn't have
the time to do that, let alone the inclination. My judgements were
based purely on the application documentation and what the candidates
said during the interview.

>That's an extreme example...

Hence the reason I used a hypothetical example which is equally
contradicted by the overwhelming majority of qualified professional
opinion (i.e. someone contending that smoking tobacco is not a health
hazard) but which isn't quite as notorious as Holocaust
denial. Anyone who publicly expresses a view of that extremity is
likely to fall foul of one or more of the published criteria for the
job spec, anyhow. Holding, arguing and defending a rationally
defensible but minority view is one thing (honestly, I know all about
that, as a Conservative Party member working in a profession
populated mainly with colleagues whose political views are somewhat
to the left of Arthur Scargill's), but believing something which is
contradicted by an overwhelming mass of empirical evidence in the
belief that the evidence is all wrong must surely rule anyone out for
a job, the basic skill for which is the ability to identify, analyse,
draw conclusions from and communicate such evidence. Anyone who
denies that the Holocaust took place has shown a fundamental lack of
ability to do those things, so I really don't think there's any
danger that the kind of safeguards I'm describing in the application
process would enable a Holocaust denier to get a job in a British university.


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