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Cuccinelli, campus cop page 2
The A.G. uses little discretion in going after a former U.Va. professor

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Date published: 5/9/2010


First, scientific panels in Great Britain and at Penn State, Mr. Mann's current college home, have combed the scientist's research and found no signs of dishonesty. One of four parts of the Penn State probe is incomplete. Couldn't the A.G. have waited for peer review to run its course?

Second, even if Mr. Cuccinelli thinks that academic scientists are "all in it together," it is wrong-headed and dangerous for him to go slashing through the ivy. The total-war mentality of modern American politics abhors the existence of neutrals. In today's vicious ideological battles there are few honest brokers and little affection for independent thinking. Yet the college campus must be a citadel of unmolested thought, a sanctuary from what George Orwell called the "smelly little orthodoxies" of politicians left and right. Because if it is not, its many imperfections will not yield what justifies them all--a drop, now and then, of unadulterated, liberating truth. Conservatives once knew that. True conservatives still do.

Mr. Cuccinelli, at least, is a lawyer, so he must appreciate the power of precedent. If he continues his charge into academe, it will not be without result. The result, however, probably won't be what's he seeking. It will be a trodden path for future A.G.s and others in authority to harass scholars whose research annoys them.

At the same University of Virginia whose records Mr. Cuccinelli is tossing are professors who are famously skeptical of global warming (Pat Michaels); others who hold that the decline of marriage is destroying U.S. society (Bradford Wilcox); still others who resist the entire liberal agenda (Gerard Alexander). They now have targets on their backs, too. And the whole academic enterprise, under direct political fire, may cower in its bunker, taking no chances-and shining no light.

Mr. Cuccinelli may be spoiling for a fight. But he should withdraw from this one, lest all Virginians rue the day he picked it.

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