I looked through the code of conduct that the most prominent professional organization for political scientist put’s out. The APSA Ethics Guide was published in 2012 and was interesting and instructive to read.
I think that they did a very good job of balancing political scientist’s interest as faculty members or members of institutions with the rights they are guaranteed as citizens to express themselves. I liked that they said for faculty members, their primary obligation is to the institution and to the students that they teach. The guide also said that while professors are free to make political statements as individuals not connected to the institution they should avoid taking political positions as a department or institution.
This made me think about the events that occurred with Steve Bannon at Virginia Tech. By commenting on Steve Bannon wasn’t the institution of Virginia Tech essentially making a political statement? I was all for bad mouthing the guy when I heard about this, but now I’m trying to square the broader ethical implications of this action.
I contrasted these rules with the rules I faced in the military. The military obviously has stricter and more easily enforceable rules governing when and how you can express yourself. The risk for ignoring the rules can be more severe and immediate for service members. If for instance a sailor wearing the Uniform of the US Navy goes to a public rally and says that he hates all the people in Germany, the servicemembers in Germany may face greater threats while stationed there.