The Register-Guard covers our own little peace activist who couldn’t, here. In the process, Greg Bolt uncovers a serious objection that actually hadn’t occurred to me before. Bogart’s proposed (I think – the specific goals seem to change from week to week) restrictions on permissible funding sources would be a major blow to the academic freedom that not only allows working scientists to seek external support to make research projects possible, but also allows (to deploy a cheap example) Ward Churchill to rant and rave to his heart’s content. Bogart appears to be claiming that any research the Department of Defense is willing to fund is inherently bad, no matter what. This is unlikely to please many of the people actually trying to get the funding; here, for instance, is UO research chemist Michael Kellman:
If the university ever tried to tell me I couldn’t apply for (unclassified research) grants from the military, I’d be out of here and so would a lot of other people, I would think. I wouldn’t stay at a place like that.
Bolt makes the point that it is already against the rules to use University resources to engage in classified research projects – research the fruits of which the University community would not be able to subsequently access – which seems reasonable. Meanwhile, Bogart and the inevitable Frank Stahl sound more and more like they’re living in some as yet unmade Terminator prequel:
“I think if a lot of American universities recognize the wisdom of this stand, it could have an impact,” Stahl said. “It could retard the rate at which the Department of Defense becomes so high-tech and so effective that a small group of very rich people could control the world.”
Right, because a low-tech military is a much better idea. Contrast with the following entirely refreshing quote, also from Kellman:
I believe the United States should have a strong military, and I believe that the military needs the best research available. I think it’s fine to be helping the U.S. military, and it’s fine for the University of Oregon to be doing that, and I think 80 percent of the people of Oregon would agree.
Most of the establishment seems to be ignoring Bogart and waiting for him to go away, which is a very sensible course of action, but it’s still good to have someone, just once, say that in public.
(Full disclosure, for anyone who cares: Prof. Kellman was on my Ph.D. committee. However, I hasten to add that none of my research has any conceivable military application – although who knows whether it’s sufficiently “people-based” to be conducted on a college campus?)