By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – As someone who makes a living out of asking questions, mark me down as all for the freedom to do so without restriction.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

It’s always a tipoff that a politician isn’t truly on the level when they try to avoid questions, or restrict them in some way. It’s not the answer that matters so much – if you expect to be fed straight answers by public officials, you’d better be ready to go hungry, or seek a more productive line of work, like pulling teeth.

Interestingly, some politicians appear to take their duty to answer questions more seriously than others.

President Obama disdains press conferences, holding fewer on average than any president since Reagan. Governor Patrick doesn’t seem to especially like tough questions, but he makes himself available to them on an admirably-regular basis.

That may be one reason why Mr. Patrick’s personal approval rating stays so high, and it offers food for thought for the faculty at Harvard University, where a mini-controversy has flared up over one professor’s request that students refrain from asking questions during the first hour of her 90-minute class.

Like many academic controversies, there may be less to this than meets the eye. It turns out the question-free period was requested by the videographers taping her class for Harvard’s online-learning website, who apparently had technical problems micing up the students.

The professor encourages questions for that final half-hour, and holds Q-and-A sessions outside of class.

So while it seems a small price to pay for the educational access the online taping provides, it’s good that some are questioning the no-questions hour.

It’s when the questioning stops that academia – and democracy – are in real trouble.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.



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