[News] Ward Churchill and Death of Academic Freedom (part II)

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Fri Jul 10 09:59:20 EDT 2009

Ward Churchill and Death of Academic Freedom (part II)
Source: <http://english.pravda.ru/>Pravda.Ru
URL: http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/108039-Ward_Churchill-0

By David R. Hoffman


to read Part I.

Recently neo-fascists opposed to Sonia Sotomayor, 
Barack Obama’s nominee to the United States 
Supreme Court, have argued that she doesn’t 
respect the “sanctity” of the law and chooses 
instead to be guided by her personal beliefs.

But if there is such a thing as “sanctity” of the 
law, why are so many Supreme Court cases decided 
by five-four votes split along ideological lines? 
Where is this concern when self-loathing Clarence 
Thomas uses his experiences at Yale University, 
not the law, to dismantle affirmative action 
programs, or when Antonin Scalia unethically 
hears cases where his political cronies are 
litigants. And why was there no impeachment talk 
when Thomas, Scalia and others of their ilk 
violated judicial ethics by refusing to recuse 
themselves in Bush v. Gore, the case that 
illegally elevated George W. Bush to the White House during the coup of 2000.

The reality is that Naves, undoubtedly because of 
his contempt for Churchill’s viewpoints, ignored 
the law. In doing so, however, he issued one of 
the most spurious, and dangerous, decisions in modern legal history.

According to the Associated Press, Naves opined 
that granting Churchill any type of judicial 
relief “would create a perception that the school 
[CU] tolerated research misconduct.”

But this argument is both disingenuous and 
contemptuous of the legal process. Jurors had 
already heard the case, deliberated and decided 
that the “research misconduct” allegations were 
simply a pretext used by CU’s regents to 
camouflage the fact that they fired Churchill 
because of the opinions he expressed in his 
essay. Thanks to the machinations of Naves, these 
jurors have belatedly discovered they were simply 
part of a show trial in a kangaroo court, and 
that their verdict, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “signified nothing.”

Naves also proffered the ridiculous claim that 
reinstating Churchill would make it harder for CU 
“to recruit and retain teachers.” In reality his 
judicial idiocy achieves the opposite. Making it 
easier to fire professors for dubious or 
pretextual reasons will certainly cause a 
“chilling effect” inside the classroom that will 
invariably impede the learning process. And this 
chilling effect will be even more devastating 
outside of the classroom, where scholars have 
traditionally been freer to express themselves. 
It is frightening to comprehend how many opinions 
will now be unsaid, how many essays will now be 
unwritten, and how many books will now be 
unpublished because of the fear of university 
retaliation. And what professors looking for 
meaningful careers and the opportunity to 
contribute to the DNA of scholarly debate will 
want to be shackled by this fear, knowing that 
tenure is meaningless, that saying the wrong 
thing can result in dismissal and that no legal 
recourse is open to them, no matter how unfairly 
they are treated? As Churchill’s attorney 
correctly points out, Naves’ ruling has not only 
empowered CU to fire people for exercising their 
constitutional rights, but even because of their “race or religion.”

Still even that wasn’t enough. Naves’ inanity 
went even further when he proclaimed that CU 
regents were entitled to the same type of 
“judicial immunity” that judges and prosecutors 
use to insulate themselves from civil liability 
whenever they abuse their power.

So who are the new faces of university 
recruitment: Gonzales and Yoo? Has the world of 
academia really sunk so low that lying, torture 
endorsing, constitution loathing war criminals 
are more preferable to have as colleagues than 
professors who use distasteful analogies to stress a point?

The answer, unfortunately, is yes. During the 
past few years the neo-fascist movement in 
America has taken control of the 
corporate-controlled media, dumbing down the 
nation with “reality” shows, celebrity “gossip,” 
pseudo-journalism, and an obsessive focus on 
sensationalism and superficiality. This, in turn, 
has allowed these fascists to steal elections, 
infiltrate classrooms, and influence policies in 
education. In public school systems across 
America, the use of random drug testing, the 
censorship of student newspapers, the banning of 
books that challenge conventional thought, and 
the reduction in the number of courses that 
inspire creativity and imagination­like music, 
art, theater and literature­have all served to 
the neo-fascist ideology that indoctrination is more important than education.

Indoctrination is increasingly important to the 
military, industrial, and police state complexes 
as well as advances in technology­such as GPS 
tracking, cameras at intersections, DNA 
databases, spying by satellite, and other such 
devices­transform America into the “Big Brother” 
type of regimented nation that George Orwell 
feared. The less students know about their 
constitutional rights, the more complacent they 
will be as these rights are increasingly eroded.

Also, corporate fascism requires a labor pool of 
fearful, unquestioning, subservient cogs who 
believe that conspicuous consumption is freedom. 
Colleges and universities, where some of this 
labor will come from, have traditionally been 
places where students learned things the public 
schools were too reluctant to teach, and where 
questioning, analysis, and the willingness to 
challenge conventional beliefs were considered 
virtues, not vices. But the preferential 
treatment given to people like Gonzales and Yoo, 
and the intimidation and silencing of professors 
like Churchill are rapidly bringing neo-fascist 
indoctrination policies into college and university classrooms.

Several years ago televangelist Jerry Falwell 
sued a publisher of adult magazines named Larry 
Flynt for defamation and intentional infliction 
of emotional distress after an unflattering 
parody of Falwell appeared in one of Flynt’s 
publications. Although the jury denied Falwell’s 
defamation claim, it awarded him $150,000 for emotional distress.

In the wake of this verdict, Flynt tried to warn 
the public, particularly the media, about the 
dangerous precedent this verdict had set: If 
public figures could run to court and claim their 
feelings were hurt whenever they became the 
subject of criticism or satire, the right to 
freedom of speech would soon be nonexistent. But, 
because Flynt was viewed as an “undesirable 
person,” few were willing to listen.

Let’s not make the same mistake again. It may be 
easy to dislike Ward Churchill for what he wrote. 
But whether you agree with Churchill or not, the 
frightening reality is that Larry J. Naves and 
the regents at CU, in their desperation to 
demonstrate their contempt, have destroyed academic freedom as well.

And what takes seconds to destroy often takes decades to rebuild.

David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru

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materials in whole or in part, hyperlink to 
PRAVDA.Ru should be made. The opinions and views 
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point of view of PRAVDA.Ru's editors.

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