Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Churchill on the stand II

That juror's question at the end of Churchill's testimony today was indeed disquieting, to say the least, for those who might have hoped the jury had gotten past the genesis of the research misconduct complaints against Ward. The juror asked, "Would all of these allegations have surfaced if not for the 9/11 essay?"

I didn't hear the "soft gasps" John Aguilar at the Camera blog says the mostly Churchill-supporting spectators emitted, but it was sure a softball for Ward, and bad news for the defense.

In case you were wondering, he said no.

I'm just going to fill in some gaps in the Post and Camera live-blogs here.

Churchill attorney David Lane started off by asking Churchill about the extensions he got to provide info to the investigating committee. Churchill said they weren't enough, and drew an analogy to Senator Inhofe demanding evidence for the famous "hockey stick" of global warming, which its proponents were supposedly unable to provide in the time alloted. Good analogy, in that the hockey stick is bullshit and so was Ward's evidence.

Then more about the absence of phrases like "half-blood" in the General Allotment Act and Churchill's use of quotation marks. Churchill invited any adversary in the gallery to come up and open a vein with him and see if they could tell which parts of the blood were Indian and which weren't. Not quite sure why.

Lane then got Churchill to say that his quotation marks were "sarcastic." Later, of course, Churchill went into the old "the administration of the Act is the same thing as the act itself" routine, so what happened to the sarcasm?

Churchill brought up the countercharges various hacks made against the committee: serial plagiarism, outright fabrication, misuse of sources, etc. Michael Radelet's Wampanoag mistake was just the tip of the iceberg, he said. He also complained again that the investigative committee's report was falsely deemed "administrative" rather than "scholarly," so immune to review in response to scholarly criticism.

Yes, it was funny how he claimed his work output had been so reduced, and that he had four or five books that he couldn't finish because of the brouhaha.

Lane brought out how IC member Michael Radelet had said that Churchill's 30 years of research wasn't "worth a pitcher of warm spit." This phrase was to recur.

CU attorney Patrick O'Rourke (is that a Jewish name?) started his cross with a half-hearted attempt at the "disruption" defense--that government employees have free speech up until they disrupt the operations of that gubmint or its agency. He didn't stick with it long.

O'Rourke next brought up those elusive "standards" Churchill was held to, and got Churchill to agree that whether they were well-defined or not, certain things are wrong--you know, plagiarism, fabrication, etc.

O'Rourke noted that the plagiarism of Fay Cohen's article was not just of "four paragraphs," as Churchill had asserted, but "from stem to stern and everywhere in the middle."

Churchill wouldn't quite say who had actually committed the plagiarism of the Cohen article. O'Rourke asked, "Annette Jaimes?" and Ward answered, "Well, close, somebody in the Northwest."

O'Rourke got Churchill to again claim he didn't recognize Cohen's article when he copy-edited it only a year after he had used it in another book. But O'Rourke embarrased himself by claiming even the titles of the articles were the same, then putting them up and discovering they weren't. That got a sneering laugh from the spectators. O'Rourke, you idiot.

O'Rourke asked what possible reason Churchill would have for putting others' names on his own work: "Why didn't you put your name on all [of the articles he contributed to the book The State of Native America]?

Churchill: Why should I?

O'Rourke posited that he attributed the articles to others because he was going through a divorce with Jaimes and just wanted to get the crap out the door without bothering with any editorial process.

And why did Ward include the Cohen article in his first tenure-track faculty review in (I think) 1991? Because Jaimes submitted the work and others filled out the forms. The Camera's Aguilar says of this: "He took responsibility for the oversight."

At the beginning of the day Lane had put a binder into evidence which Ward said contained the traditional Indian evidence of his claim that the Army intentionally spread smallpox to the Mandan. O'Rourke now: Show me in the binder where it says there was a smallpox infirmary in St. Louis.

Ward: I can't show you that in so many words. Being a scholar, I'm interpreting.

A juror shook his head. That was about it from the binder. Except for Buffy St. Marie.

Tons of stuff about "scattering," Churchill's conflation of Fort Union with Fort Clark and the Assiniboine with the Mandan ("The Mandan at Fort Clark are symbolic of the whole."), middle-school textbooks that bore Ward out (but only on one point), Russell Thornton and the number of Indian deaths ("Surely you can read the text in different fashions. That's true of almost any text"), Four Bears ("He doesn't say "blankets." My sin was referring to a broader body of knowledge . . ."), and so on. How the jury is going to fare with the sheer volume of argle-bargle I won't venture to guess.

O'Rourke ended by trying to get Ward's paranoia going, asking why so many faculty had agreed that he cheated. Was it a conspiracy? No. Did all these people just sell you out? "They protected their own interests, their own turf."

On redirect Lane brought out that Churchill had gotten two "verbal" job offers, one at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, the other at Southwest Minnesota State University, in, one assumes, southwestern Minnesota.

Lane also made a big deal of the fact that "ghostwriting" was not included in CU's list of prohibited academic practices. People clapped at that.

Just a little more about O'Rourke's cross-examination. He was not strong. He didn't try to rile Ward, he spoke too softly, and he made that dumb mistake. There was no fire to the man, no "j'accuse!" Now I'm worried.

Update: Gee, even the Grauniad had a reporter there today: "Controversial University of Colorado professor fights to get job at [sic] back" (now you know why it's called the "Grauniad"). (If you didn't already.)

Update II: Useless, unindicative factoid: Every one of Lane's seven or eight or nine objections today was overruled, except maybe for part of one ruling. The Chutch-supporting crowd got sick of it, as evinced by their, yes, "soft" groans.

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