In a paper published online, Chaya Herman examines the relationship between political change and epistemologies and methodologies employed in research at doctorate level in the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria from 1985. She groups the doctoral dissertations under scrutiny together into three periods: 1985 - 1990, 1995 - 2000 and post 2000. She presents particularly negative assessments of the theses in question, characterising them among other things as research fundamentalism, patronising and pseudo-scientific knowledge, pseudo-philosophical knowledge, 'ideology masquerade [sic] as science' and disengaged knowledge lacking critical discourse and relevance. It would be understandable if the university management in general, deans of education, staff of the Faculty of Education and the PhDs who graduated during the period reviewed by Herman questioned her ex post facto analysis of their work. The paper by Herman evokes intriguing questions about issues such as fairness of comment, academic rigour and freedom, dignity and freedom of expression and how they play out in a before and after scenario of far-reaching political change and transformation. In this article we examine Herman's article (which suggests to us a certain reluctance to deal with the above questions in her analysis regarding the circumstances in which the text(s) on which she reports were written) in the light of their apparent relevance to the constitutional right to freedom of expression including academic freedom with its restrictions/limitations. Our paper introduces aspects of common law and the notion of 'who pushed the pen' into the critical consideration of the article and its possible implications for examining long-established academic and research traditions as they manifest themselves in a transformed setting. We conclude with comments on how the notion of 'pushing the pen' and knowledge of the meaning, limitation and application of the right to freedom of expression could apply to Herman's article and to all academic texts produced after the apartheid era in the democratic South Africa.