Bob Allston

With 45,000 students and 4,000 faculty and staff, the University of Florida is Florida's largest taxpayer supported university and the eighth largest university in the Nation; enjoying as well the State's highest rated law and medical schools.

This site examines how and why freedom of speech and dissent and the open and free interchange of information and ideas thereby engendered are substantially compromised at great cost to Floridians in both these basic disciplines.




    1. Ideally, when issues, be they complaints, criticism, compliments, etc., are brought before any profession, they should be openly received, objectively examined, and resolved in a manner that best serves the interests of society. And it is this continuing dynamic interplay between the profession and the society it serves that facilitates the necessary dynamic change within the profession to keep it abreast of changing social conditions. Conversely, when such a dynamic interplay is absent or suppressed, the profession no longer meets the requirements of large segments of the society it serves; becoming increasingly inward focused, self indulgent, isolated and marginalized.

    2. The UF medical and law schools effectively isolate themselves from criticism by variously ignoring, attacking, discrediting, or trivializing those who criticize them. Thus buffered from the necessary external stimuli to remain integrated into the world they ostensibly serve; substantial segments of these professions fall into their own self serving, self indulgent, isolated, and marginalized worlds.

    3. In the case of the medical school, this is reflected in the many ways in which one of its programs, the Arts in Medicine program, functions outside of and oblivious to established academic, professional and research norms. If those in the program were allowed, let alone encouraged, to question this state of affairs, it would be the first critically important step in remedying it.

    4. In the case of the legal profession it is reflected in, among many other things, the fact that 59% of the Florida public have no access to the courts and only 12 percent of the Florida public even like lawyers. If law students and faculty were allowed to seriously question the reason for this dismal state of affairs, it would be the first critical step in forcing the legal profession to remedy it.

    5. The further you examine the hundreds of mainstream newspaper, Bar and medical publications presented herein, the more you will find the basic tenet of this site-- that suppression of free speech and dissent are all but chronic problems in these basic disciplines, if not many others as well; causing vastly reduced academic performance and service to the public.

    6. Presented first is a detailed example of the phenomenon at the College of Medicine followed by an example regarding the legal system and law school. After this is an example of the fear of reprisal for speaking out experienced by UF faculty generally, across all disciplines.

    7. And lastly is a review of the less than inspiring options that individuals caught up in this difficult issue have for dealing with it.

      Bob Allston
      April, 2000


    8. In the case of medicine, I was a volunteer at the University of Florida Shands Teaching Hospital Arts in Medicine program which enlists artists of many kinds to assist patients with the healing process. My principal function was playing the piano in the Atrium, the hospital's main open space at the central entrance.

    9. The founders of the Arts in Medicine (AIM) program have been closely associated with it since they founded it in 1991. However as the years have gone by, it has become increasingly evident that their program is vastly inferior to programs that could be implemented in its place from the advancing fields of art therapy, recreation therapy, music therapy, and others. This in turn has forced them to resort to disinformation about such competing professions, censorship, and repression of speech and dissent within their own ranks to hide their program's deficiencies from their own people as well as the rest of the hospital and public.

    10. Thus, for the most part, the social/professional niche they wish to occupy is already occupied by these more progressive professions at other institutions and thus they are entirely dependent upon the sheltered near monopoly status granted them at UF's Shands Hospital; finding little ability to export their program despite substantial support and effort.

    11. The problems with the program are discussed extensively in two Web sites, Shands Arts in Medicine Market Analysis , and Mainstreaming Arts in Medicine , some of which are summarized:

        Shands Arts in Medicine is the creation of a doctor and nurse at Shands Hospital where it has been provided with a protected environment and effective monopoly since its inception in 1991. It was subsequently brought to Alachua General Hospital, owned by Shands, in 1998, where a similarly sheltered environment is provided. This protected monopolistic position in an uncritical environment has allowed AIM to maintain its unattractive competitive characteristics.

        However beyond Shands and Alachua General Hospital, the market niche occupied by Shands Arts in Medicine is shared in whole or in part by the competing disciplines of recreation therapy, art therapy, music therapy, and dance therapy, and to a lesser extent, a number of other professions; wherein Arts in Medicine is at a serious competitive disadvantage. Thus Arts in Medicine has spread very little beyond its host institution at Shands.

        In an attempt to expand beyond its sheltered environment at Shands and AGH, Arts in Medicine has attempted to differentiate itself from its competing professions by vilifying them, making insupportable claims that AIM functions differently and better than they do, making claims that "art" has healing qualities above other competing healing modalities such as bingo or "outings", and promoting their perception of "art" as having supernatural healing powers. However, the end result has been to decrease its appeal rather than increase it.

        It has been too heavily hyped and promoted with too much commercialism to fit within conventional academic/research/scientific norms and standards; thus rendering it unattractive to educational, healthcare and other organizations/institutions.

        In deference to its anti-science supernatural leanings and fear that its favored modalities of healing might be thereby discredited, it has discouraged research people from taking active roles in the organization and thus undertaken almost no research and development. At the same time however, its competing professions have little or no such compromising ideology and have undertaken substantial ongoing efforts in this regard.

        It is a real possibility that patients could change their treatment from one suggested by their physician to one favored by an AIMer, although evaluating this possibility is difficult. However, due to their higher standards, education, research, and less emphasis on supernatural phenomenon, the possibility of such a thing happening with negative consequences in the therapy professions is clearly much lower.

        Its various shortcomings effectively limit the populations out of which it may recruit staff and serious volunteers to only a few percent of those from which its competing professions may recruit staff and volunteers; thus seriously limiting its growth, flexibility, and potential, compared to them.

        AIM has a very complex ideological character-- artistic, scientific, medical, supernatural, commercial, academic, legal, promotional, research, etc. However there is no attempt by its founders to explain how many of these traditionally disparate elements may be expected to function in ideological or practical harmony in AIM. This problem is far more negligible for AIM's competing disciplines because for the most part, they limit their character to elements that traditionally function well together within institutional and academic environments. Examples of such relationships requiring examination and explanation are: commercialism v. academic reserve, supernatural v. scientific, legal requirements v. promotional hype, legal requirements v. supernatural, and academic v. supernatural.

        Arts in Medicine has no ongoing university educational degree program to produce professional practitioners as do its competing professions. Its perspective on education appears to be to solicit artists from a community to set up a program at a hospital who can learn on the job. However it also has a research arm, CAHRE, that was set up to explore research and education; although to my knowledge it has done little.

        Of course such low standards for any health care discipline in a hospital will tend to drag the entire hospital as well as other medical disciplines in the hospital down in the eyes of the public and medical profession; including those programs that are conscientious about maintaining high standards.

        And of course, such low standards are an open invitation for other disciplines to follow suit. Indeed, why bother with all the tedium and expense of clinical trials to prove your effectiveness when others don't?

        And these problems might be expected to be the most pronounced regarding other "alternative medicine" modalities of treatment. For instance, Shands has an acupuncture unit. Why shouldn't this unit just follow suit, avoiding research while at the same time making broad insupportable claims as to its effectiveness?

        There are alternative modalities of health care that are both effective and doing credible research to establish their value in the face of a skeptical public and medical profession. This applies just as well of course to AIM's competing "therapy" professions who even without AIM already have to deal with numerous charlatans out to confuse the public for personal gain.

        In short, an alternative modality of healing such as Arts in Medicine needs to do just the opposite of what it is doing. That is, it needs to be making reasonable claims of effectiveness based on the best most credible research obtainable; far more so than established medical disciplines if it is to gain the respect and support of the medical profession and public.

    12. Most AIM people are women that come from a more purely arts background. And people with such a background will for the most part feel comfortable with AIM; or if not, they may have financial or social reasons to accept it the way it is. However, as an AIM volunteer, I was quite atypical as to background and interests and I was also the only AIM volunteer that was also a volunteer with the VA Recreation Therapy program across the street from Shands hospital where in March of 2,000, I received recognition for 750 hours of volunteering.

    13. It was this diversity of background and interests that led me to believe I could make a positive contribution to AIM. So I wrote several papers that to my great surprise were summarily rejected and ignored by one of the founders that I thought would be very interested. I found myself prevented from raising any such issues at meetings. I also tried to talk to the same founder about such issues for much of the time I was a volunteer; but he kept evading me although he readily talked to others.

    14. What I didn't understand then was that the founders of course knew that their program was inferior and my papers and questions were inadvertently raising relevant issues they wanted suppressed. In short, all the while I thought I was raising useful points and issues that they would be thankful to have, they were viewing me as a threat.

    15. I have placed the papers Arts in Medicine: Exploring Our Niche and Arts in Medicine and the Web, that I wrote, exactly as they were, on the Web. One might debate as to just how many problems were addressed but I don't think there is any question that they addressed many serious ones. As well, I think it is plain that I was coming at it from a respectful and well motivated point of reference as a volunteer.

    16. It was only many months after these papers were produced and my other entreaties were completely ignored, that I came out with my first Web site on AIM, Mainstreaming Arts and Medicine , openly criticizing the program based largely on facts and issues presented in the papers, particularly the paper entitled Exploring our Niche.

    17. Then it was after this that I was falsely accused of various improprieties; and when I went to prove one of them was false, I was dismissed from AIM and ordered out of the hospital indefinitely under circumstances making it obvious the purpose was to block me from investigating the matter further.

    18. Thus, these papers, the Web site, and the ensuing chain of events provide solid documentation of an example of suppression of speech and dissent at the medical school.

    19. At the same time, it should be noted that many people could as easily have done the same thing should they have been motivated to do so.

    20. While I was active in the program, there were for instance, no doctors or nurses (other than the founders), social scientists such as anthropologists, sociologists, economists, etc., or physical or engineering scientists, such as physicists, chemists, engineers, etc., with artistic abilities active in the program beyond casual volunteers. This is true even though there are numerous such people in this university community. This problem is of course just one of the reasons the program could be much better run by one of the therapy professions; wherein I'm sure there would be many such people active in the program making very valuable contributions.

    21. And of course this poses the issue of why there wasn't a more diverse group of people in AIM, why more people weren't willing to address its problems, and why the hospital administration wasn't sufficiently sensitive to these issues that the majority of them couldn't have been taken care of long ago.

    22. For of course this gets back to the fundamental issue addressed by this Web site-- a culture of suppression of free speech and dissent produces university departments, organizations and professions that are self serving, self indulgent, isolated, and irrelevant; at moreover incalculable cost to the societies they serve.

    23. As an example of the problem, UF and other medical schools have recently helped to bring more regulatory control down on themselves, thus forcing many UF and other medical researchers to have to deal yet more extensively with bureaucratic rules and paperwork. This of course just further increases work loads and hassle for both researchers and those who must review their research; while at the same time effectively increasing costs and reducing the amount of beneficial medical research that can ultimately be undertaken.

    24. If UF and other hospital administrations had simply had a functional policy of hearing and protecting dissent, this further level of bureaucratic intrusion might well have been entirely avoided. And sadly, but all too characteristically (at least from the information presented in the article), this potentially very effective method of rectifying the problem appears to be being completely by-passed and ignored.

    25. Now lets turn to the problems of the legal profession and its even more extensive culture of suppression of free speech and dissent.


    26. In the case of the UF law school, the evidence of substantial social/cultural restrictions on freedom of speech and dissent among faculty and students is overwhelming. And this is without question one of the greatest reasons for the dismal condition of the Florida legal system.

    27. To demonstrate this, it may first be noted that the state of legal affairs in Florida is an unmitigated disaster. 59% of the population has no access to the legal system and only 12% of the people even like lawyers. (With the introduction of this site, I haven't had the time to search for more recent data, although I doubt there is any significant improvement.) There is also no question the legal profession, law faculty across the state, and law students across the state, are well aware of these statistics, for they come from the Florida Bar itself.

    28. Yet, what do we get in the way of relief? Are the Bar and law schools a hub of activity from free speaking and dissenting lawyers, law students and faculty members bent on speaking out with their various opinions on how to right this dismal state of affairs? Indeed, lawyers aren't known to be shy about airing their opinions about everyone else's affairs-- how about their own?

    29. Look over the Florida Bar publications and with rare exception all you will find is lip service to problems, endless aggrandizement of the practice of law and endless laments that their profession is just terribly misunderstood by the public.

    30. And, how about the Web? Indeed, the Web is a medium that is free to anyone for the asking and can scarcely be described as a suppressed medium of communication. So are lawyers, law students and law faculty exercising and protecting their right to free and open dialog here to address their profession's problems?

    31. I have searched in vain for individual Web sites by Florida law faculty and students addressing the problems and found little to nothing. I suspect this extends to the other Florida law schools as well.

    32. In the Summer of 1999, I introduced a new Web page The Florida Legal System: Telling it like it is to my legal reform site backed up by numerous articles from the main stream media and Bar arguing that the Florida legal system is in fact the most dysfunctional and corrupt of all professions taught at UF.

    33. There is no question that my site on legal reform has been well known in the profession for a long time, as well as long before I made this page; for it has been one of the world's top sites and unquestionably Florida's top site on legal reform. Indeed it would be all but impossible for any law students, law faculty or lawyers surfing the Web on the subject of Florida legal reform (as well as numerous other legal issues) to miss it.

    34. Thus may we assume they are eagerly exercising their freedom of speech and dissent in this democratic pluralistic society of ours to engage me and others with Web sites on the legal system in dialog through email pro/con regarding the myriad of issues raised in my site; as do many others? Indeed, one would assume lawyers would weigh in the most.

    35. Think again. I can't of course speak for other Web sites but with regard to mine, while I have received much email from others, I have yet to receive a single email (or any other communication) from a single Florida lawyer, faculty member (from any Florida law school), or law student (from any Florida law school) since long before I placed the page on my site arguing this about the Florida legal system. And there is little reason to believe that others with Web sites are being engaged by legal professionals either.

    36. Thus, unless one assumes these people have no ideas they wish to air on the subject of reforming the legal system, the overwhelming weight of evidence suggests that a culture of suppression of speech and dissent, and conformity are stock in trade for the Florida legal profession, including the UF law school; and moreover at incalculable cost to society. (For a look at how this behavior is taught to lawyers, see, for instance Why can't Law Schools Teach Ethics? --FSU .)

    37. Undoubtedly some of this could be ascribed to elitism as well; but elitism is in reality just a form of self censorship. Unquestionably another very substantial reason is the rule requiring lawyers to report ethical infractions; for my pages cover numerous examples of ethical infractions of prominent lawyers (see for instance Scam by the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers ) that the Bar obviously has no intention of addressing. Thus dialog with the public would open law students, faculty and practicing lawyers up to discussing such issues which they must of course avoid, even though I assume only actual members of the Bar may be technically bound by it.

    38. As in the medical profession, the legal profession prefers discrediting critics rather than addressing the problems raised by them; although I think the legal profession is substantially ahead of the medical profession in this regard. Indeed, the legal profession gives more the impression of an inward looking secret society almost entirely dependent upon its state power and monopoly to practice law for support, rather than having any measure of popular support; not a formula for creating trust, solving problems, or progress.

    39. As in the case of the medical profession, one might debate the degree to which the legal profession's culture of suppression of speech and dissent may be perpetuating its problems but one can scarcely debate its not wise to view them seriously. For of course the fundamental assumption of democratic society is that when speech and dissent are suppressed, problems may be anticipated.


    40. There is an organization in Gainesville, Florida, the Florida Free Speech Forum, made up largely of University of Flroida academics, that claims to address free speech issues.


    41. An article, The University of Florida's Future in Flux appeared in the Friday, April 21, 2000, Gainesville Sun, relating the latest information about the search for a new UF president as follows:

    42. "Gay-Crosier is one of 12 professors who drafted a resolution during the weekend saying that the current list of candidates for UF's top position "does not represent institutions at parity with or better than UF." By Thursday afternoon, 257 faculty members had signed the resolution. The University Senate approved the measure with a 44 to-10 vote, with seven senators abstaining."

    43. "This is our attempt to reclaim our university," physics Professor Pierre Ramond said.

    44. "Supporters of the resolution to reopen the search say that it has the support of most of UF's 4,000 faculty members."

    45. "Junior faculty probably did not want to put their names to this," says Ramond, noting that non-tenured faculty are more afraid to speak their minds."

    46. "Senators say they are concerned about UF's status in the Association of American Universities, an organization that represents the top 62 research universities in the nation. They say the school needs a president from a top-ranked AAU school to lead UF into the organization's top ten 10 rankings. None of the four remaining candidates comes to UF from an AAU school."

    47. The search for the next president is of substantial importance to all faculty members because they want to see the University become one of the Nation's top ten AAU universities. This means more grant money, more interesting research, better students, etc., etc.

    48. However although 44 out of 61 members of the Senate voted in favor of re-opening the search, and it is claimed that the majority of the 4,000 faculty members support the measure, only 257 signed a petition favoring it. Thus if we assume as stated that at least 2001 (a majority of 4,000) faculty members supported the measure, why did only 257 (or only 13% of 2001) sign such an important petition? For of course the more that sign it, as anyone knows who has been requested to sign any petition, the more it counts. The only answer given is that faculty who weren't tenured were afraid to speak their minds.

    49. Thus we get to the proposition that 87% of more than half of UF faculty are afraid to speak their minds regarding something many of them feel very strongly about.

    50. And if they are afraid to speak their minds on an issue of such major concern to them, isn't it fair to ask whether they would feel free to speak their minds regarding issues that involve their own work and professions as well?

    51. In the medical sciences such issues might include fraudulent claims as to the effectiveness of drugs or treatments, funding worthless or inferior research, falsified grant application papers, abuse of patients, administering the wrong medications, stealing controlled drugs for sale on the street, etc. In the legal profession such issues might include crooked or incompetent lawyers and judges, drug money buying off the courts and prosecutors, bad court procedures or laws just designed to make money for lawyers, etc.

    52. Indeed, just on the face of it, it would appear medical and law faculty might even be less likely to raise such issues that are so much closer to home and thus more likely to trigger a repressive response.


    53. Just how widespread the problem may be in Florida is somewhat problematical but the case discussed in this section, Retaliation against Whistleblowers , makes it abundantly clear that it is not limited to the University of Florida. The following discussion is taken from the text of the case:

    54. Founded in 1960, the University of South Florida (USF) has 24 doctoral programs on its main campus in Tampa and three other branch campuses. With nearly 2000 faculty and approximately 38,000 students, it is the 18th-largest university in the US.

    55. Eager to begin a new doctoral program in philosophy, in 1987 USF recruited its first female Distinguished Research Professor (DRP). With degrees in mathematics and philosophy, and post-doctoral work in hydrogeology, economics, and biology, the new DRP had held professorships at the Universities of Louisville, California, and Florida. 11 years later, she was forced to leave the university because of retaliation against her after she blew the whistle on alleged illegal grant skimming, illegal public records, unreported salary payments, and salary discrimination.

    56. When she came to USF in 1987, Dean Jim Strange told the new DRP that she was the highest-paid faculty member in the college. After blowing the whistle, her salary had fallen to 70 percent of that of her peers', despite 14 books, hundreds of research articles, outstanding annual evaluations, continuous National Science Foundation (NSF) research funding, and more doctoral students than anyone in the department. When she was forced out of USF, no females were among the 46 highest-paid faculty in all (non-medical) units of the university (the Colleges of Architecture, Arts and Sciences, Business Administration], Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Nursing, and Public Health). Even in 1998, she was still the only female Distinguished Research Professor in all these colleges. Of the four highest-paid female faculty members in these colleges, three (including the DRP) left USF in 1998.

    57. This is a 1991-1998 case alleging federal grant skimming, false public records, unreported salary payments, salary discrimination, and criminal stalking at the University of South Florida. It demonstrates that when whistleblowers do not have democratic protections, it is difficult to secure either social reforms or their own protection.

    58. The case seems to support two preliminary conclusions: (1) In situations of severe corruption, the ethical imperative of attempting first to correct problems internally can lead to coverup and retaliation against whistleblowers. (2) Whistleblowers may gain little by fighting unwinnable battles in which they "play fair," but their well-funded and politically powerful adversaries do not. Together, these preliminary conclusions illustrate that blowing the whistle may be more complex than ethical norms suggest and more dangerous than the civil- and criminal-justice system can alleviate.


    59. Unfortunately there are no easy solutions. However, I have found an Australian academic with many Web pages, Brian Martin, who has spent about twenty years examining the problem, and whose analysis closely fits the problems at UF. Moreover his sites give many examples of people who have been faced with such problems and how best to proceed when faced with them. A listing of many of his and other pages in the area is found at Suppression of Dissent: Documents .

    60. Note that although I have had extensive experience with the legal profession, most of it has not been in an academic setting. However, my experience as a volunteer in the Arts in Medicine program at the University of Florida Shands teaching hospital has been substantial. Thus most of my comments will concern the medical school.


    61. Suppression of Dissent: what it is and what to do about it , by Brian Martin, is an excellent site from which to begin an investigation. He states:

    62. "In almost every case, those who take action against dissidents say that the reason is poor performance by the dissident or something else that is the dissident's fault, especially an attack on the dissident's personality."

    63. "In many cases, those who are suppressed are said to have brought it on themselves. Often, their personalities are criticized. They are said to be touchy or abrasive or paranoid."

    64. In my case, I was accused of playing the piano too loud, vagrancy, paranoia, and smeared in the eyes of my fellow volunteers.

    65. "The actions which can be called suppression most often are implemented by people in positions of power in organizations or associations. This means business executives, government officials and leaders in professions (law, medicine). Usually, the attacks on a person come from their superiors: for example, attacks against academics who speak out more often come from university administrations than from outsiders."

    66. In my case it was by a founder and administrator in the Arts in Medicine organization.

    67. "--in every case, dissent should be protected. The focus should be on opposing suppression and ensuring freedom of speech, not on the psychology of those attacked."

    68. "Freedom of speech is central to a free society. It is necessary so that all points of view can be presented and considered. Dissent should be encouraged rather than discouraged."

    69. "Freedom of speech should be available to all, including employees. When employees in government or industry are inhibited from speaking out through fear for their jobs, society suffers. Powerful organizations that claim to serve the public interest should be able to tolerate critics. Indeed, they need criticism to make them more effective."

    70. "If critics decide to toe the line and "lie low," then after a period--often years--they may be accepted back into the fold. This acquiescence means that future critics are likely to encounter the same difficulties."

    71. "It is vitally important that action be taken against suppression. This is because the most important effect of suppression is not on the dissident--though that may be traumatic--but on others who observe the process. Every case of suppression is a warning to potential critics not to buck the system. And every case in which suppression is vigorously opposed is a warning to vested interests that attacks will not be tolerated".

    72. These last two points deserve special consideration in the context of airing dissent on the Web. For, if such Web pages are prominent on search returns, they may be known to a wide audience, both at the local level, and worldwide. Thus the lack of action against suppression is a warning to dissenters not to buck the system, and definitive action against suppression is a warning to vested interests that attacks will not be tolerated; all on a much more magnified scale due to it being on the Web-- for better or worse.

    73. Of course the extent to which the matter is aired in the press, local or otherwise, also bears on this issue in a similar manner, with some significant distinctions. For, after articles appear in the media, they tend to fade away whereas Web articles don't; often being available for over a year at the same URL. And in the event they are prominent on search returns, new surfers are constantly being introduced to them over this period.


    74. The same author has another article on the Web dealing specifically with suppression in academia entitled Advice for Dissident Scholars :

    75. "It was in 1979 that I first began investigating and writing about suppression of intellectual dissent. I was then an applied mathematician interested in environmental issues, and I discovered a pattern of suppression of environmental scholars. The more I looked into the issue, the more cases showed up. Then, after publishing articles about suppression, even more cases were brought to my attention. Initially I hadn't even thought of suppression as a problem in science and academia. Now I realize that it is pervasive. Although each case has its own peculiarities, there are regularly recurring features of suppression cases."

    76. "There are two main features of suppression cases. First, someone does something--research, teaching, or public comment--that threatens a powerful interest group, typically a government, industry, profession, or one's own superiors. Second, there is some attack on the activity or the person. This might be censorship, disciplinary proceedings, slander, transfer, dismissal, or blacklisting, or threats of any of these."

    77. In my case, I raised questions about deficiencies in the program and was slandered, discredited and dismissed.

    78. "Many scholars have a deep, abiding faith in the power of truth. They believe that if people really knew what was going on--about the corruption, the danger to the public, or the attacks on free speech--they would be supportive. They also believe that somewhere there are powerful people who will respond to the truth and ensure that justice is done and seen to be done."

    79. "My first important piece of advice for dissident scholars is not to rely on truth. It's useful but not enough. Certainly it should not be relied upon to sway the powerful."

    80. "Scholars are trained to believe that academia is a system for seeking and disseminating knowledge and that the "marketplace of ideas" will lead to the triumph of truth. This isn't a good model. It's far more useful to treat academia as a system of power, in which knowledge plays an important role. Government and industry don't fund research out of altruism: results are expected to be useful, either in a practical or symbolic way. Profits, power, and status are the keys."

    81. "Another way to look at this is to remember Lord Acton's saying, "power tends to corrupt." Those who have power in academia--deans, grant administrators, research directors, editors--are liable to use it to advance their own ends and protect themselves from threats."

    82. "Most whistleblowers believe in the power of truth. They speak out, believing that the problems they have pointed out will be quickly rectified once people know about them. Occasionally this actually happens. But all too often it is the whistleblower who is seen as the "problem" and who is "rectified."

    83. In my case, as discussed previously, after my Web site appeared criticizing the program, I was falsely accused of a number of things. When I was in the process of exposing the falsity of one of them (playing the piano so loud that someone was alleged to have said "I can't take it anymore") I was falsely accused of even more things and dismissed from both the program and the hospital all in one afternoon-- under circumstances making it obvious that the purpose was to block me from investigating the matter any further (that day or any other time.)

    84. When I advised the Shands volunteer organization that the charges against me were false, and I wanted the opportunity to appeal and review the matter, my request was simply ignored. I was thus denied any internal channel to review the matter. Shortly thereafter, I placed a documented account on the Web.

    85. "This does not mean that there is a conscious conspiracy of evil schemers who set out to destroy dissidents. Just the opposite. Those who attack dissent sincerely believe that they are doing the right thing. They see dissenters as incompetent or dangerous because they are questioning a valid procedure or undermining support for an important enterprise. Among those who attack dissent, it just so happens that there is a nice meshing of their beliefs and their self-interest."

    86. The above analysis fits the founders of the Arts in Medicine program. Their own status and prestige is inexorably involved with it; thus employing such less than enlightened means to protect their program is to them simply a matter of the ends justifying the means.

    87. Indeed, the author gives an example of the difficulties in dealing with suppression of dissent when it is practiced by prominent doctors; as in my case:

    88. "First is the case of Phil Vardy and Jill French, medical researchers who worked for William McBride, the Australian doctor who discovered that the drug thalidomide causes birth defects. Vardy and French found out that McBride had falsified some of his data in a published paper. After they confronted him about it, they were dismissed and their careers were almost destroyed. They had the naive belief that truth would lead to justice. They had no strategy that took account of the exercise of power. The board of Foundation 41, which McBride had set up for his medical research, backed him. McBride had the prestige and power. It was only years later, after journalists took up the story, that McBride's fraud was exposed."

    89. "There's no method that can guarantee success. Sometimes a simple "speak-truth-to-power" approach will work, and sometimes the most sophisticated campaign will fail. I believe that an approach based on clear goals and a strategy based on an understanding of academia as a power-knowledge system will improve the chances of success. With this foundation, it is worthwhile examining some methods of opposing suppression."

      1. Document the case

        My case is of course extensively documented on the Web.

      2. Mobilize support

        This is clearly good advice but there are difficulties with it in my particular case. For, I'm neither faculty nor student, merely a volunteer. Thus, I don't have a close association with faculty members in any particular department and moreover any faculty or students that might wish to support me stand to lose much more than I do and obviously I wouldn't want them to risk that. As well, I haven't been around the UF Campus very long (at least since I was a student many years ago.) either.

      3. Obtain publicity

        I have of course publicized these issues extensively on the Web. However, I have made no attempt to obtain publicity in the local media (or any other media) regarding the Arts in Medicine program; although this remains an option.

        However, I have had extensive experience regarding the legal system. There, in a very few cases I obtained decent stories but the press always shied away from any serious accusations of wrongdoing by the legal/judicial profession, regardless of how well documented. With some notable exceptions, the press proved to be part of the same small town power structure and an instrument of smear tactics, discrediting, and ridicule for the local legal/judicial profession and the other good old boys.

      4. Be wary of official channels

        "Official channels are designed by and usually serve the purposes of powerful organizations. Typically, they keep public discussion to a minimum. They deal with technicalities rather than the underlying issues. They take a lot of time, allowing abuses to continue and dissipating the urgency of concern. They are largely under the control of bodies with more links to suppressers than to dissenters."

        "Faith in official channels dies hard. When one official body proves useless or joins in the suppression, many dissidents seek out another and then another. Official channels should be understood not as neutral tools of justice, but as part of a wide, though often uncoordinated, power structure. Just as academia is a system of power-knowledge, so are bureaucracies, federal agencies and the courts. Occasionally they might be helpful to dissidents, but it is important to be wary."

        Regarding Arts in Medicine, as mentioned above, any such channels that I am aware of were simply closed to me.

      5. Prepare for a tough struggle

        "There are plenty of dissenters who, after being attacked, decide to acquiesce. Thereafter, they do everything possible to conform to what is required. Sometimes they even join in attacks on other dissidents. Historically, there are cases of prominent dissidents who, after being attacked, spent years trying to become acceptable to the establishment. These are instances showing that suppression can be effective in stifling dissent. Even more important is the role of suppression in signaling to others--those who haven't expressed any dissent--the dangers of stepping out of line."

        Some of these thoughts were expressed in the previous article above. Clearly one needs to be prepared for the long haul; for these dynamics could be vastly accentuated, for good or evil, in employing the Web to air dissent.


    90. There is an article by the same author on the Web Whistleblowing and Nonviolence discussing the relationship between whistleblowing and nonviolence. Since my actions have assumed the character of both whistleblowing and nonviolence, and it is a viable course for anyone to pursue, I present it here. This article necessarily reiterates much of the material covered in his previous articles, although in a new context.

    91. "Whistleblowing and nonviolent action have a number of similarities and connections, yet seldom have they been discussed together. There are a number of lessons from nonviolence for whistleblowing and vice versa. These are raised through a series of points about whistleblowing: that isolated resistance is ruthlessly crushed, that preparation is essential, that formal channels seldom work, that the strategy of mobilization can be powerful and that whistleblowers seldom bring about change."

    92. "Whistleblowing, in casual usage, means speaking out from within an organization to expose a social problem or, more generally, dissenting from dominant views or practices."

    93. "Speaking loosely, nonviolent action refers to any activity used to bring about change in beliefs or behavior that does not involve physical violence."

    94. "Both whistleblowing and nonviolence aim to foster open discussion of issues. The whistleblower "speaks out," often first to formal appeal bodies and then to the general public. A key aim in nonviolent action is to foster a dialogue both with the opponent and with third parties. The opponents of both whistleblowers and nonviolent activists commonly seek to shut down dialogue and discussion, by various forms of silencing."

    95. It was always my objective to participate in analysis and discussion in the Arts in Medicine program and of course I wrote several papers as well. However the founders always suppressed both my verbal entreaties and papers on a broad range of subjects. This was in part accomplished through scheduling meetings designed for only very specific subjects and then blocking any other discussion. Also there wasn't (and probably still isn't) any professional organization that AIMers were encouraged to join where such subjects could be openly aired. In short, the founders kept tight control of anything to be brought before AIM staff or volunteers.

    96. This policy in itself guaranteed that only those people whose ideological perspectives fit neatly in with those of the founders became active in the program. Others would of course drift away in search of a more open, receptive, or otherwise more compatible environment.

    97. Of course, when I was finally silenced by forcing me out of the program and the hospital, it was to discredit and block me from investigating and exposing false accusations against me as well as to stop me from raising a myriad of other issues now raised in my Web sites.

    98. The author continues with the following useful insights into the similarities and distinctions between whistleblowing and non violent activism:

    99. "whistleblowers oppose corruption and bad policies in organizations, such as unethical pay-offs, protection of criminal behavior, lying to the public and practices causing hazards to workers, the public or the environment. Their goal is to stop the improper actions, penalize the wrongdoers and compensate those who were victimized. This is a reform perspective, in which the solution to problems is to replace corrupt people with honest ones and to establish good processes for monitoring and dealing with problems."

    100. "Many nonviolent activists trace social problems to deeper roots. Feminists attribute many problems facing women to the deep-seated system of patriarchy, whose facets include male violence, discrimination, the division of labor, upbringing, government policies and systems of hierarchy. Environmentalists may point to the role of capitalism, industrialism or domination of nature as underpinning problems such as the greenhouse effect or species extinction. For activists with such perspectives, reform is inadequate: fundamental changes in social structures are required."

    101. "With this background, it is appropriate to turn to five insights from experiences of whistleblowers and comment on connections with nonviolence."

      1. Isolated resistance is ruthlessly crushed.

        "The most common experience of whistleblowers is that they are attacked. Instead of their messages being evaluated, the full power of the organization is turned against the whistleblower. This is commonly called the shoot-the-messenger syndrome, though fortunately few whistleblowers are physically shot, at least outside of dictatorships. The means of suppression are impressive, nonetheless. They include ostracism by colleagues, petty harassment (including snide remarks, assignment to trivial tasks and invoking of regulations not normally enforced), spreading of rumors, formal reprimands, transfer to positions with no work (or too much work), demotion, referral to psychiatrists, dismissal, and blacklisting."

        "The lengths to which organizational elites will go to suppress whistleblowers are amazing and hard to appreciate without hearing, first-hand, stories of reprisals. Consider the following example, by no means an exceptional one. Chuck Atkinson was a quality assurance inspector at a nuclear power plant being constructed in Texas. Initially committed to nuclear power, in 1980 he became an anonymous whistleblower concerning safety violations. He was suddenly dismissed in 1982 after reporting problems to his employer, Brown and Root, that would have required redoing work. On the day he was fired, an inspector at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission revealed his identity as a whistleblower to plant officials; since he was no longer employed, the NRC would not maintain his anonymity. After testifying publicly against the industry, he was blacklisted. For example, after obtaining a job at another power station, he was fired a few days later after his new employers found out about his whistleblowing. Atchison "lost his job, his home, his credit rating, his sense of personal safety, and his self-esteem as a breadwinner."

        "Many individuals who speak out did not intend to be and do not think of themselves as whistleblowers. They simply spoke out in the expectation that the issues they thought important would be addressed honestly and effectively. They are terribly shocked when, instead, they become the target. One reason why these unintentional whistleblowers" have so little chance of success or even survival is that they have not mobilized support beforehand. They are lone dissidents typically up against the full power of an organizational hierarchy."

      2. Be prepared.

        "For many organizational dissidents, it is not easy to lie low and collect information while being aware that abuses continue apace. In a hospital, for example, violations of procedures may be risking the lives of patients. Many principled employees consider it their duty to speak out as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the result is usually that they are ruthlessly crushed."

      3. Formal channels seldom work.

        "Whistleblowers typically use formal procedures. For example, they might complain first to their boss, then to higher management and then to appeal bodies. Charles Robertson was a chartered accountant who worked for the British accountancy firm Guardian Royal Exchange (GRE). He became aware of financial irregularities concerning taxes payable and raised the issue with other managers and the chairman. He was expected to cover up the problems he had found and, when he refused, he was suspended from his duties. He appealed to GRE's grievance committee, lost, and was dismissed. He went to the industrial tribunal on the grounds of unfair dismissal, representing himself because local law firms declined to take his case--four out of five of them because they did business with GRE. The tribunal ruled unanimously that he had been unfairly dismissed and should be reinstated in his job. (Rulings to reinstate occur in less than one out of a hundred cases.) GRE appealed against the judgment. Robertson spent months preparing for the appeal, but GRE withdrew at the last moment. It still refused to employ him and paid the maximum penalty for violating the reinstatement order, a trivial [[sterling]]4,264. It took Robertson three years to get another job, at one quarter of his previous salary. His professional association was unwilling to investigate the financial dealings about which Robertson had raised concerns."

        "Whistleblowers typically are hard-working, conscientious employees who believe in "the system." When they see something wrong, they speak out in the expectation that their complaint will be treated seriously. When, instead, they are attacked, they typically take their complaint to some higher body where they expect to find reasonable people who will dispense justice. Yet, in most cases, each new body fails to act against the problem. Many whistleblowers retain their faith that someone, somewhere, will provide justice. Without such a faith, it would be difficult to persist through appeals, inquiries and court cases for years, and sometimes decades."

        "There are occasional victories, of course, which encourage everyone to think that the system does work after all. But the overwhelming experience of whistleblowers is that formal channels are part of the problem. The reasons for this are straightforward. Appeal bodies are part of the wider system of power and usually seek or reach accommodation with other powerful groups. Hence such bodies are highly unlikely to support a single individual against elites from a major organization, who usually have links with elites elsewhere. Sometimes appeal bodies have a crusading spirit, but these ones usually are starved of funds or come under attack themselves."

        "Nonviolent activists seldom have the illusion that society's formal channels provide a solution to injustices, since otherwise it would not be necessary to use nonviolent direct action in the first place. One assumption underlying nonviolent action is that people need to take matters into their own hands rather than relying on others--elected representatives, courts, regulatory agencies, professionals--to take care of things. Whistleblowers would be much more effective if they learned from activists the power of acting directly rather than just appealing to someone else to administer justice."

      4. Use the strategy of mobilization.

        "If formal channels are ineffective for whistleblowers, what is the alternative? One strategy is based on "mobilization," namely winning supporters by circulating relevant documents, holding meetings and obtaining media coverage."

        "My assessment of many whistleblower cases is that there are two things that are most helpful to whistleblowers: contacting other whistleblowers and obtaining publicity."

        "Publicity is the second powerful support for whistleblowers. As long as the whistleblower pursues justice through formal channels, organizational elites have an enormous advantage. They have higher status, far more resources (for example to engage legal professionals) and contacts with other elites. This is precisely why lone whistleblowers usually find formal channels so useless. The people who are being appealed to are either the perpetrators themselves or those who have stronger links to them than to the complainant. Furthermore, organizational elites usually have much more control over the process of appeal. The media, in this context, can be powerful tools for whistleblowers. Media coverage alerts a cross-section of the population to the dispute, in a way that is not controlled by organizational elites. Media coverage gets to many who are not subject to control by elites. If the whistleblower is pursuing a just and worthy cause, this often comes through in the coverage. Likewise, if organizational elites have been taking punitive action against the whistleblower, this often comes out and, indeed, may be the main point of the coverage."

        "Although media coverage can be very helpful to whistleblowers, the media are not automatic allies. Often there are difficulties in gaining coverage because cases are too old, too complicated or threaten the interests of advertisers or the media themselves. In some cases, media outlets ruthlessly attack whistleblowers, out of hostility or just the search for a "good story." Nevertheless, media coverage is more likely to be a source of support for whistleblowers than using official channels."

      5. Whistleblowers seldom bring about change.

        "Whistleblowers typically are attacked personally and often have their careers destroyed. The more successful whistleblowers may obtain some belated compensation, such as a monetary pay-off as part of a court settlement. But has the organization changed at all? In some cases new policies are introduced, but in others the situation is worse than before, since the harsh treatment of whistleblowers sends a potent message to other potential dissidents about what might happen to them should they rock the boat. A lone whistleblower who is ruthlessly squashed may leave a corrupt organization less open to change than before. Policies occasionally may change as a result of whistleblowing, but not systems of hierarchy, division of labor, profit motive, patriarchy and the like."

        "For example, Karl Konrad was a member of the Victorian police in Melbourne. He challenged the rigid police culture by speaking out about corruption in the force, most prominently about bribery involving window shutter companies. He was shunned by fellow officers, called a "dog" (informer) over the public address system in one station, cautioned over trivial matters, fined and eventually dismissed. Konrad was far more effective than most police whistleblowers, especially in generating public awareness of police corruption, but in the end the Victorian police force remained essentially unchanged. No corrupt police were disciplined; only Konrad lost his job."


    102. Whistleblowing as a Failure of Organizational Ethics is a Web article dealing specifically with whistleblowing from the standpoint of nursing professionals. It makes many of the same points as the articles above although there are significant distinctions. For instance, it states:

    103. "When all is said and done, the whistleblower must blow the whistle for the right moral reason and reasoning. It follows, therefore, that the whistleblower him or herself must be carefully scrutinized. What are the personal and the professional reputations of the whistleblower? What is the motive driving the whistleblower? Is it to benefit the client or the organization, or is it a need for attention or revenge? Is the whistleblower's cause seen as legitimate and significant by trustworthy colleagues and friends? Is the whistleblower aware of the potential consequences of blowing the whistle and still willing to accept responsibility for actions taken?"

    104. Suppose I am a nurse and I videotape another nurse illegally taking barbiturates from a hospital pharmacy? Suppose I document that hospital staffing is not up to legal standards and this is negatively impacting quality of care? Suppose I document that hospital staff are repeatedly falsifying Medicare claims? Suppose I document that a patient has died due to receiving the wrong medications?

    105. Unfortunately, the authors are merely offering the health care professional an easy and painless cop out. After all, most people, health care professionals or otherwise, could easily find something from the above items to justify not blowing the whistle.

    106. However, the real world isn't so easy to deal with. The authors take the position that the patient's interests come first. That being the case, when such wrongs are being committed, what difference does it make what my motives are in blowing the whistle? What is the difference if my motives are to benefit the client, the organization, to get attention, or get revenge? The same goes for how my friends see it as well as whether or not I am prepared to take the consequences of my actions. Serious wrongs have been committed and from the standpoint of furnishing the best patient care, such things are simply irrelevant if my allegations are true.

    107. Then lets look at it from the health care professional's perspective. In addition to the wrongs that have been perpetrated in the first instance, the action of the hospital in refusing to do anything about these things, forcing a health care person to have to consider whistle blowing, is also just as morally wrong if not more so. Further, not blowing the whistle reinforces the suppression of dissent, yet another moral issue to contend with.

    108. In short, how can I make a moral decision based on good moral reasoning not to blow the whistle? Isn't not blowing the whistle simply adding another moral wrong to the list, perhaps even the worst one of the lot-- for by not blowing the whistle I am assuring that the wrongs will continue and the next person to dissent over these issues will be similarly suppressed.

    109. At the same time, the health care professional has got some heavy worrying to do about their own professional future, etc.

    110. The fact is, for the health care professional its 'dammed if I do and dammed if I don't' big time; and the more professional, conscientious, and morally motivated the individual is, the worse its going to be for her/him.

    111. "--it is important to establish forums and procedures through which individual members of the organization may challenge, in a constructive way, institutional values and decisions made by other members of the organization."

    112. This of course bears stating and should be implemented at Shands for volunteers and all health care professionals and others who have an interest or concern in health care at the hospital. In light of the previous author's comments however, one would hope such a procedure could result in something more than just a whitewash by those who wish to suppress dissent.

    113. I think the difference in perspectives between the advice of these health care professionals and the perspectives of the previous author is a reflection of the fact that they are speaking from within their own profession which they strongly identify with; whereas the previous author has probably spent much more time studying the issue in many different professions, and thus speaks from a much broader more disinterested and it must be said realistic perspective.


    114. This site presents the reader with a massive amount of documentation including many links to supporting materials and hundreds of media articles. One may thus pursue the subject to any depth desired.

    115. But whether one seeks a recursury overview of the subject or deeper view, I hope this examination of the UF Arts in Medicine program, Law School, and legal system impart a sense of the magnitude of the problem and the great gains to be made in addressing it, even if only imperfectly. As well, the evidence presented in other sites linked to in this site clearly suggests the problem may by no means be limited to UF but may indeed be widespread throughout many educational institutions in many countries.

    116. As the matter stands, if the process of pursuing the right to free speech and dissent in an academic setting is fraught with difficulties for the individual faced with such problems; the absence of these essential commodities is fraught with far more serious consequences for the society the institution serves. For the information in this site goes far to suggest that a university with a free and fluid marketplace for ideas is a cornerstone for both social and technological progress if indeed not a cornerstone for that society's very democracy itself. Examples addressing this last proposition are not difficult to find. In German universities under Hitler academics lost their jobs for the least opposition to his totalitarian policies, finding themselves moreover unemployable anywhere in Germany.

    117. Often, instances of suppression are clearly identifiable. However, equally often the link between the act of an individual and the following act of suppression can often be difficult to establish, even in the best most objective circumstances. For instance, in the case of the petition to reopen the presidential search, it would be all but impossible to establish that someone who signed the petition was later suppressed in some way because of it. This is all the more reason why cases of suppression should be objectively and meaningfully dealt with when they are identifiable. The institution must also not be guilty of copping out in difficult situations; for its always easy to find excuses for copping out.

    118. Thus we may hope for the day when educational institutions, supported by political institutions, do maintain a well functioning open door policy to the top institutional level, and will objectively hear, examine, and act to protect such a marketplace against both internal and external, and covert and overt, forces of censorship and suppression. As well, everything must be done to assure that those in the institution assiged to hear such issues are not themselves subject to such forces.

    119. Undoubtedly one of the principal reasons the issue does not receive the attention it deserves is that suppressors are quick to suppress any such effort. Thus for now, if not for a long time to come, in many institutions, its a slippery road where the individual faced with suppression must consider all the options reviewed in this site as well as any others he might avail himself of.

    120. Living with systematic suppression in the academic environment that goes against the grain of one's education, experience, or sense of right and wrong, can be degrading and uncomfortable in the extreme; while his society itself, fares no better. For, the society whose educational institutions embrace such suppression can only anticipate professions that place self interest, preservation of the status quo and hypocrisy above progress and public service; at incalculable cost to both the society and individuals in it.

    121. Having had to take this journey into the subject myself, I wanted to share what I learned with others in the event it may be of some value. It is a call anyone faced with it must make; as well as a call his society must make.

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