Don’t kick a man when he’s down – it’s good advice. And when a noted UNC-Chapel Hill professor of physics is jailed indefinitely in Argentina following his cocaine-related arrest, he’s down, way down. There’s no desire here to add to the woes of Paul Frampton, who at age 68 spends his days and nights in a room with 79 other prisoners awaiting trial.
But there is one thing, mentioned in the latest N&O account of Frampton’s case. Nobel Prize winner Sheldon Glashow of Harvard, a Frampton friend, is quoted as saying it’s outrageous that UNC has stopped Frampton’s pay. That should be done only if he’s convicted, Glashow says – and that’s how Harvard would handle it.
Certainly there are circumstance in which a faculty member’s arrest – say, for protesting human rights violations in some dictatorship – would be so questionable that the school should show full solidarity. But here, where Frampton and his supporters basically concede what amounts to criminal stupidity (at a stop in Bolivia, he naively agreed to transport a suitcase that turned out to be chock full of coke), UNC is right to dock his pay.