Thursday, April 09, 2009

Salon on the Churchill case

In a relatively straightforward piece (aside from the early point that the Churchill jury's verdict was correct in that CU's investigation was caused by Churchill's 9/11 essay, and a later one that Churchill's lies were just like the Bush administration's--"Bush neocons "knew" that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 and had weapons of mass destruction, just as Churchill "knew" that the U.S. Army intentionally spread smallpox among the Mandan Indians"), Gary Kamiya gets to the crux of the cracker:
The ultimate lesson of the Churchill case is that no cause, however just, benefits from being taken up by a propagandist. Scholarship must be sacrosanct. Rules of evidence must be followed. You can't assert things that you want to believe are true, no matter how morally right or practically beneficial those assertions may be, and then distort or make up evidence to support them.
But then Kamiya goes completely off the rails with this mind-boggling assertion, the first sentence of his concluding graf: "In a polarized age, when it has become increasingly difficult for people to agree on the simplest facts, the academy remains the most powerful bulwark against the rising tide of relativism." . . .

What college did he go to?

Update: Daily Gamera: "CU to 'vigorously challenge' Churchill's reinstatement":
Ken McConnellogue, spokesman for the CU system, said the university is relying on its findings that Churchill engaged in repeated and flagrant academic misconduct to support its stance that having the controversial former professor back on the Boulder campus is a "bad idea."

One week ago, a Denver jury decided that CU unlawfully fired Churchill for expressing his political beliefs and awarded him $1 in damages.

A judge will decide at a yet-to-be-scheduled hearing whether the former professor gets his job back.

Churchill has until May 2 to file a motion for reinstatement.

"CU's reputation for academic integrity is the foundation for all we do and having him return to the classroom would be an ongoing threat to that reputation," McConnellogue said. "We expect higher standards from our faculty and our students."
Silence, uneloquent. Oh, David Lane "called CU's position 'offensive'":
"A jury of their peers has convicted them of being constitutional violators," Lane said this afternoon. "They should not be fighting against the truth but should be trying to implement procedures that will vigorously protect the Constitution."

Update II: The prez of Fort Lewis College will boycott Churchill's speech there this weekend.

(via the pirate with the eagle-feather-bedecked parrot, who's got lots of good stuff. Just scroll.)

Update III: The American Association of University Professors ("Defending the indefensible since 1915") on the Churchill case (in whole):

"We believe the disputes over Ward Churchill's publications should have been allowed to work themselves out in traditional scholarly venues, not referred to disciplinary hearings. We believe Churchill should be reinstated to his faculty position at the University of Colorado."

Earlier AAUP fatuity here, here, and here.

Update IV: the NYT on Churchill's possible return to CU:
“I don’t think he should come back,” said Marissa Jaross, a senior anthropology major. Though Ms. Jaross said she believed the university was looking for a way to get rid of him, she added: “I think he’s kind of a shoddy academic. I wouldn’t look at his work as great, or even worthy of my time.”

Barbara Bintliff, a law professor and former chairwoman of the faculty assembly, shared that view.

“Everyone is just aghast at the prospect that he would be back on the faculty,” Professor Bintliff said. “I can’t imagine how he would function normally or what kind of relationship he could possibly have with the faculty.”
On the other hand:
“I would welcome his return to campus,” said Margaret LeCompte, an education professor who said she had always thought the university wanted to get rid of Mr. Churchill because of his comments about Sept. 11.

“He is a well-respected teacher, even by students who disagree with him — the kind of a person who should be at a university, where a dialogue of controversial ideas can be held in a safe environment,” Professor LeCompte said.
The Times calls him "Mr. Churchill."

Earlier LeCompteism here, here and here.

Update V: In the Post, Mike Rosen says CU should have gone for the "disturbance" defense:
But this was an employment issue. As an employee and a representative of CU, Churchill's behavior reflects on the university. He's not merely controversial. His inflammatory rhetoric stigmatizes the school, repels contributors and drives away tuition-paying students. Just as free speech under the First Amendment isn't absolute, neither is academic freedom for tenured college professors. Do you imagine that a CU instructor would not be held accountable for verbally attacking gays, blacks or women?

Case law upholds disciplinary penalties for offensive speech. Leonard Jeffries was the head of the Black Studies Department at New York's City College. He was removed as department head for repeated anti-white and anti-Semitic rants in his classroom and in public forums. Jeffries challenged this action in court as a violation of his First Amendment rights. He lost.

In a speech at the Seattle Independent Media Center in 2003 celebrating 9/11, Churchill instructed students to shave their beards, cut their hair and wear bankers' suits in order to wreak destruction on Wall Street. "Why did it take Arabs to do what Americans should have done a long time ago?" he asked. "Why shouldn't you do something? Not a reason in the world that I can see. Do you know how? You carry a weapon — that's how they don't see you coming. You're the one."

Academic freedom? No. Academic malpractice. A rogue like this has no place at a Colorado public university.
O'Rourke did try (weakly) a version of this argument. Obviously, it didn't fly.

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