In an April 4 editorial, the New York Times lambasts John Yoo, formerly a lawyer in the Justice Department, for his legal memo on interrogation that the Times says authorized torture. There’s a lot of blowhardiness to rebut here, and I’m not going to bother. But, there’s an astonishing statement in the middle:
Mr. Yoo, who, inexplicably, teaches law at the University of California, Berkeley, never directly argues that it is legal to [do various bad things].
(Emphasis mine.) Yoo, a tenured professor at Berkeley, took a leave of absence to work at the Justice Department before returning in 2004. During that leave, he produced a work of legal scholarship that proved politically unpopular. For the New York Times, that is apparently grounds for revoking his tenure. Nay, more than that; it is “inexplicable” that his tenure was not revoked.
Am I reading too much into one word? It’s hard to see what else “inexplicable” could mean, since “he has tenure” would otherwise appear to be an explanation. Moreover, I’m not the only one to read it this way. Other observers took it the same way, including the Dean of Law at Berkeley, who felt the need to put out a statement explaining academic freedom and tenure to the New York Times.
(Via the Volokh Conspiracy.)
UPDATE: Paul Campos, writing in the Rocky Mountain News, comes out and says it explicitly, and laments the lack of seriousness of those like Berkeley’s Dean of Law (and me) who think academic freedom might be an issue. (Via Instapundit.)