Academic suspended for criticising Australian flag
What do you think of the heading above? Sounds outrageous, does it not? It is on the header of the latest mailout from "New Matilda". And, knowing the underlying story concerned, it did give me a laugh. I was even more entertained when the opening sentence of the story described the suspended one, Roz Ward, as a "respected Melbourne academic". Respected by whom? Other Far-Leftists, no doubt.
But the heading is deceptive in the usual Leftist way. The woman did not just criticize the flag. Harold Scruby has been doing that for decades without incident. Having the Union Jack quartered in the Australian flag has long steamed up some Leftists. Ms Ward actually denigrated the flag and what it stood for, which is a more serious matter
The story below is fairly factual, quite devoid of the huffing and puffing one usually gets in Leftist writing. So it leaves the reader in a position to make up their own minds about the matter. I would note two additional points only:
1). Universities these days are very sensitive about speech, "hate" speech, particularly. So LaTrobe would have risked great cries of hypocrisy if they had let Ms Ward's quite blatant hate speech go uncontested. An accusation of "racism" is pretty toxic these days. And directing such an accusation at the university's source of funding just could not be risked. Funding is the thing that universities most passionately believe in these days.
2). The flag is a symbol of the nation so it was Australia as a whole that Ms Ward was denigrating. And Australians are a pretty patriotic lot in a quiet way so there is no doubt that the utterance concerned would have cause widespread offence -- particularly as it came from a source well deserving of opprobrium: A Communist. Glass houses and all that. Just the woman's obvious self-satisfaction was offensive enough, considering the horrors she stands for. So the whole thing was just bad PR for the university. And universities spend a lot on PR these days
No doubt Ms Ward will be reinstated after a suitable interval. She will be found to have uttered "free speech". Marxism is respectable in the universities these days.
UPDATE: She has been reinstated. I originally posted this article on my Matilda blog on 2nd.
Roz Ward – a respected Melbourne academic and one of the co-founders of the Safe Schools program – has been suspended from her job at La Trobe University this afternoon, over a private Facebook post which criticised the Australian flag as “racist”.
Ms Ward, who has been at the centre of a News Corporation engineered media storm this week, was notified in writing this afternoon of her immediate suspension (with pay) from the university.
Fiona Reed, the Executive Director of Human Resources at LaTrobe accuses Ms Ward of breaching her employment conditions by embarrassing the university, causing the Victorian Government – a major funder of LaTrobe – to divert resources to defending Safe Schools, and of putting her colleagues at risk by creating an ‘unsafe’ environment.
Last week, under a photograph of the gay and lesbian flag flying above Victorian parliament, Ms Ward joked with a friend on Facebook: “Now we just need to get rid of the racist Australian flag on top of state parliament and get a red one up there and my work is done.”
The ‘red’ is a reference to the Marxist flag – in addition to her work with Safe Schools, Ms Ward is a prominent figure in Melbourne’s Marxist political movement.
The post was leaked to The Australian newspaper, which began a campaign last week to remove Ms Ward from her position with Safe Schools Victoria Coalition, which is funded by the Victorian government and auspiced by LaTrobe.
By early this week, former Liberal Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett – the Chairman of charity beyondblue, which has been a major funder of LaTrobe – had joined the attacks, telling media that if Ms Ward remained in her role with Safe Schools, he would personally argue against any further funding to the university’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, which administers the Safe Schools program on behalf of LaTrobe.
This afternoon, Ms Ward was handed a letter by LaTrobe University, immediately suspending her from her job Specifically, La Trobe claims Ms Ward’s conduct:
“a. … Undermined public confidence in the Safe Schools program by undermining public confidence in you as a researcher and as a person associated with the Safe Schools program.”
“b. … Damages the reputation of the Safe Schools program and aligns the Safe Schools program with views which have nothing to do with the program and its message and content.”
“c. … Has required members of the Victorian Government to take up their time in defending the Safe Schools program, rather than be positive advocates for the Safe Schools program.”
“d. … Has required senior staff at the University to take up their time in defending the Safe Schools program, rather than be positive advocates for the Safe Schools program or undertake other duties they have.”
“e. … drawn (your colleagues) into the negative publicity around Safe Schools and this has impacted on their ability to continue with their research in a safe environment.”