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9/11 Memorial Lecture: Academic Freedom After 9/11

Date and time

September 10, 2004

About this event

Robert M. O’Neil, distinguished professor of law at the University of Virginia Law School and director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, will deliver the keynote lecture at the center’s third-anniversary symposium commemorating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

His subject was the state of academic freedom since those events. Asking whether academic freedom has diminished since then, O’Neil’s response was a heavily qualified “no.” While we have been spared wholesale, McCarthy-like assaults, isolated incidents have made university faculty more aware of risks. Librarians, reacting to threats posed by provisions of the USA Patriot Act that permit the government to obtain information about individuals’ borrowing habits, have asked Congress for relief and have taken other measures to inform the public. Scientific journals, he observed, must make editorial decisions based on federal law that prohibits the sharing of scientific materials with citizens of certain nations, effectively thwarting much scientific collaboration. O’Neil concluded his talk by reminding us of the fragility of our freedoms and the likelihood that they will remain vulnerable for some time.


Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202


Robert M. O’Neil