Letter to the editor: Shirkhanzadeh on his third strike

Professor Shirkhanzadeh has been found guilty of harassment. 

What farce.

To be found guilty of harassment at Queen’s, one thing is sufficient and one thing is necessary.

First, what is necessary is for the so-called “harassed” to be people in positions of power. Voltaire well said: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” 

Professor Shirkhanzadeh is being disciplined for harassment because the allegedly harassed are our Board of Governors and our administrators, whom Shirkhanzadeh harassed (by sending them emails) into doing their job according to Queen’s own Charter. That Shirkhanzadeh was right is proven by the fact that the University did, eventually, withdraw some of the fraudulent articles. Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.

Second, what is sufficient to be found guilty of harassment at Queen’s is to engage in “any conduct that causes anyone embarrassment.” Yes. That’s the truth. Read the definition. And if you don’t or can’t or won’t believe that anyone at Queen’s would be ungenerous to the point of acting upon such a clause to undertake disciplinary proceedings against a dedicated veteran professor at Queen’s (much less one deserving of a medal of honour for his true loyalty to Queen’s as a reputable place of learning), well, believe it.

Ponder how this definition of harassment can possibly be consistent with not only Professor Shirkhandazeh’s entitlement to academic freedom — a right granting the freedom to criticize (correctly embarrass) the administration of the university, robustly upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada for all the right reasons — but with Professor Shirkhandazeh’s duty, which is for all of us our duty, in a self-administering, closed, publicly-funded system like a university, not to let money stand in the way of truth, not to let our interest in our own reputation entice us to sweep ugly truths under the rug. 

That it was necessary to harass (embarrass) Queen’s to get it to retract fraudulent articles certainly speaks less well of the University than of Shirkhanzadeh.

Bravo, Mort, for your integrity. Too bad Queen’s is a place where that has to take so much courage.

Adèle Mericer is a professor of philosophy at Queen’s.

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