The terrible acts and the incredible bravery. China 20 years ago today troops were ordered in to clear the democracy movement protests in Beijing.
The incredible image of Jeff Widener captures the bravery of the individual 5 June 1989.
In the olden days Swedish professors had extraordinary job security. Much like a judge, a Swedish professor could not be fired for his or her opinions. The reason for this job security was to ensure and encourage an independent acadmia who would, without fear, couragously attack established, encrusted thought, to bravely rattle cages and knock over pedastals. In theory at least this was what was supposed to happen. In practice not a lot of knocking down took place.
Less than two decades ago this changed. The traditional job security was removed. More academics were produced. More professors, associate professors and PhDs were pushed through the academia factory. At the same time web communications made talking noisly an easy occurance. But when a blogger shouts on the web – does anyone listen?
Many PhD students, part time teachers, project based researchers and jobless PhD’s murmer (not loudly) about the dangers of blogging your mind or writing couragous, critical arguments in the media. Of course your future employers google you – what were you thinking? You didn’t think you could be appointed to the committee after writing “that” in the local newspaper?
But this picture is not as bleak as it may seem at first. There is a group of disrespectful, uncringing, loud academics who speak their minds. Online and offline. Some are quitely and discretely punished but in the long run developing reputations for being fearless, courageous and blunt is an advantage to the academic – even if he or she recieves a few knocks on the way.
Just wanted you all to know that you are seen and appreciated – you know who you are!
ps this post has nothing to do with, but was inspired by a particularly fearless local academic Prof Bo Rothstein who consistenly charges forward knocking over pedastles, rattles cages and challenges hypocracy wherever he sees it.