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CU Thinking about Dismissing Churchill
Posted by: McQ on Friday, February 04, 2005

I'm really not at all happy about this either:
University of Colorado administrators Thursday took the first steps toward a possible dismissal of a professor who likened World Trade Center victims to a notorious Nazi.

Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano ordered a 30-day review of Ward Churchill's speeches and writings to determine if the professor overstepped his boundaries of academic freedom and whether that should be grounds for dismissal.
Look, I don't like a damn thing Ward Churchill said, not one word. But I will defend to the death his right to say them.

That's said, I also defend the right of any employer to fire any employee for any reason.

But let's get real here ... there aren't nor have there ever been any "boundaries" applied to "academic freedom" that I know of (and I know readers out there will set me straight if there are or ever have been) as concerns the written word (except prehaps in a case of incitement to violence, which the article in question does not do).

IOW, I don't know of a case where a "violation of the boundaries of academic freedom " has been cited as a reason for firing a professor at any institution of higher learning for something he or she wrote.

Anyone know what these "boundaries" are?
Want to see a huge "chilling effect" on "academic freedom"?

Fire Churchill.

Want to pay a huge lawsuit?

Fire Churchill.

He'll have more lawyers than a mangy dog has fleas trying to get his case.

Want to fire him because he's a miserable human being and a lousy professor ... do so. But have cause and records which reflect the charges.

As for Governor Bill Owens:
Gov. Bill Owens issued a written statement saying he deplored the behavior of some of the students at the meeting, and that their behavior underscored the "culture of violence" that can be spawned by essays such as Churchill's.

Owens has called for Churchill's firing.
I wonder if he'll have the same thing to say about the vandalizing of Churchill's truck or the "culture of violence" contained the death threats Churchill's received.

And although I know that to a politician the cameras and microphones are like a flame to a moth, it might be better for all if he'd just sit down and hush instead of adding fuel to the fire.
 
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Yes, I suppose, out him but don't fire him. Offer him the choice or a mea culpa or the door.

Interestingly enough, he boosted his military credentials with fake stories about being airborne/recondo trained, but he really was a clerk.

So complete wannabee. The military falsehoods bother me more than the indian ones.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
I don't know what CU's standards of decency are, but firing Churchill (regardless of his own idiotic babblings or those of the liberal media) is not censorship.

It's about freaking time that academics learn that words and actions have consequences and they'd better learn this lesson soon.

I live in the Boulder area, my boss is a CU alum and his son attends currently. If something isn't done soon, CU is going to be feeling it in the wallet from alumni.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
I'm unclear as to how you can say this, McQ. Churchill's words have brought a very negative reaction. He's free to say what he wants, sure, but he must take responsibility for the result. The college isn't saying he can't say what he wants, only that if he says something that causes enough controversy to make the college look bad, they'd rather not have him.

Is the threat of a law-suit all it takes to stifle the college's right to hire whom they thinks best represents their interests? So much for liberty....
 
Written By: Sharp as a Marble
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
I’m questioning the "cause", Marble. What are the "boundaries of academic freedom" cited by DiStefano?

Does anyone know? Is it written up somewhere at CU?

Is it a clear bright line over which it can be show Churchill strayed?

Or is it, as I suspect, whatever the administration decides it is in retrospect?

Fire him because he’s a distraction, fire him because he’s brought shame upon the university, fire him because he’s a lousy professor, fire him because he was a lousy administrator, whatever, but have a real cause not some nebulous rationalization for getting rid of someone who’s become a source of controversy.

Until someone can define the "boundaries of academic freedom" and show me where Churchill crossed it, I have a problem with that being used as a rationalization for his ouster.

Responsiblity cuts both ways. It is CU’s reponsiblity to have just cause for removing him and not do it in reaction to some nonsense about "boundaries of academic freedom". His writing has been public for years.

Why is CU just suddenly concerned with crossing "boundaries of academic freedom"? Where were they when he wrote and published this after 9/11?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Question -
If it was that important and that offensve why did they wait 2 years to fire the guy? This isn't new writing, this is old stuff.

You can't fire every lefty loon that spouts off. You don't have to like him, you don't have to support his works, but his free speech rights should be the same as the next guy's.

If they can fire him for this then they can fire anyone for saying anything they don't like. And THAT'S the issue.
And when the GOVERNER thinks he can do that and applies pressure of some sort (as Governers can do), it's the GOVERNMENT taking action
if his legal staff doesn't tell him to sit down and shut up.

The guy has TENURE, that word has as much meaning as the rights of an employer to hire and fire people.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I don't know what CU's standards of decency are, but firing Churchill (regardless of his own idiotic babblings or those of the liberal media) is not censorship.

Never even hinted that it was.

It's about freaking time that academics learn that words and actions have consequences and they'd better learn this lesson soon.

Then fire him for cause, not for some nebulous rationalization called 'crossing the boundaries of academic freedom', whatever in the hell that is.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Question -
If it was that important and that offensve why did they wait 2 years to fire the guy? This isn't new writing, this is old stuff.


BINGO!

If it was about boundaries, weren't they there 2 year ago? If so why weren't they enforced then?

If they can fire him for this then they can fire anyone for saying anything they don't like. And THAT'S the issue.

Thank you sir ... and that's correct. That is the issue. Firing him would be self-defeating for CU as well. Few professors are going to want a position at a school which can fire you for saying something controversial.


Some, I'm sure, would find that to be a good thing.

I'm not one of them.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I think a legitimate reason to fire him would be a failure to educate and produce work at CU's minimum standards of scholarship, assuming CU has them.

His positions clearly lack credible evidence and go as far as to lie about history in an attempt to make a point. If he is teaching these baseless positions as fact to students - particularly undergrads - I'd have no problem firing him.

But I'd hesitate long and hard before firing him for having moronic opinions outside of his professional duties.
 
Written By: David Andersen
URL: http://
But becoming a source of controversy is a valid reason for firing someone.

As a business owner myself, I cannot afford to have an employee use my resources* (email, computers, time, etc.) to bring bad light to my company. It may appear that, by not taking any action, I condone whatever it is that caused the stir. I have the right to take whatever action I feel best for my business. If I could get away with a stern reprimand and satiate my customer base, fine. But if I feel releasing said employee (and currently in my company that would mean firing myself ;) would redeem me in the eyes of those who pay my bills, so be it. And if my actions make it harder to employ (which I seriously doubt), then I have to evaluate if allowing such behavior is less detrimental than lack of workers. It would eventually even itself out.

I think it's silly to say that the college needs pre-existing clauses in order to dismiss him. They need to ensure that alumni continue to support them and that the campus is attractive to students. That is all the reason / cause they need, in my opinion. I am more than willing to be proven wrong and have an open mind, I just feel that since employees are under no obligation to stay with a company / business / college and can quit without notice, then the employer should have the same right to terminate.

*It appears to me that Churchill uses his position at the college to provide backing to his writings.
 
Written By: Sharp as a Marble
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
Good points, S.A.M..

 
Written By: David Andersen
URL: http://
THey waited as long as they did because it's only a crime if someone notices.

Look, can we find examples of professors on the right being silenced? I think it's a sure bet we can. Yet, I see nobody who is currently standing up for this fraud, standing up for those on the right who have had their freedom of speech 'violtaed' in the same manner.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Let me correct an assumption on my part. I am not clear on the whole tenure deal. If tenure is a contract between the college and a professor that the college knowingly committed to that protects the employment of said professor, then my argument is null and void as the college willingly gave the professor that protection.

If this is the case, then I will say that they would need to show that Churchill engaged in actions that violated the terms of the tenure contract in order to remove him from office.

I may be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.
 
Written By: Sharp as a Marble
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
"Yet, I see nobody who is currently standing up for this fraud, standing up for those on the right who have had their freedom of speech 'violtaed' in the same manner."

It's not about whether this guy is a righty or a lefty.

Tenure - "status ensuring an employee the PERMANENCE in his position or employment" (my emphasis).

That literally means they don't get to fire this guy, because at some point in the past they entered into a contract with him that says they CAN'T (and there's probably clauses specifying when they CAN, but in the case of this clown, those clauses have probably not been met).

If you'll protest about a 'right-wing' professor being dumped for expressing his views, you have to protest a 'left-wing' professor being dumped for expressing his views.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Then I stand corrected.

I don't care what the political leaning is. You know, the whole "2 wrongs" thing and all that. If he is an asset to the college, fine. If he is a hinderence and cannot be fired, well then the college made that bed themselves and in it they shall sleep.

Why anyone would ever make a contract saying "you cannot be fired for any reason" is beyond me.
 
Written By: Sharp as a Marble
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
I think they can be fired - and I think McQ is making that point. They CAN, for some cause which is specified in the Tenure. This one probably does not rise to that, and it's vague, and they're 'grandfathering' it because his violation is a couple years old.

All looks like exactly what it is, they're firing him because someone (lots of them) doesn't like what this guy had to say in a socio-political way. Which is probably not one of the things the cause clauses say in a Tenure deal.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
If they want to fire him, they have great grounds on that he's not really an indian at all, and thus has his job under false pretenses.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
McQ,

He be let go for being a shoddy teacher...check it out (from the Colorado Political News blog)...

"We hear that Ward Churchill, the embattled University of Colorado professor, is actually on the list of "easy" professors/classes that athletes at CU are recommended to take to help them balance out potentially poor grades. Word is that some of Churchill's classes are considered easy pickings for a quick 'B' or better, a grade that comes in handy when an athlete's eligibility is at stake after a 'D' or 'F' in other course work."
 
Written By: norman
URL: http://onemanstrash.blogspot.com
McQ,

Sorry. I should have been more clear in that I wasn't addressing your post specifically. I agree with the points you've made in the comments, as well.

I agree that CU has been willfully stupid in their handling of this issue (and a lot of others). I agree that universities (at least publicly funded ones) can't stifle legitimate scholarship just because they don't like the result.

I'm just fed up with the lunatics on the left spouting off whenever the hell they want about whatever the hell they want, and then crying like pansies any time someone criticizes them (see also, Robbins, Tim and, more recently, Boxer, Barbara).
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
Norman:

He be let go for being a shoddy teacher...

Works for me ... they have every right to do that, but they're playing in a legal and ethical mine field when they start talking about the "borders of academic freedom".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Marble:

But becoming a source of controversy is a valid reason for firing someone.

Fine ... I believe I covered that when I said: "Fire him because hes a distraction, fire him because hes brought shame upon the university, fire him because hes a lousy professor, fire him because he was a lousy administrator, whatever, but have a real cause not some nebulous rationalization for getting rid of someone whos become a source of controversy."


But crossing the "boundaries of academic freedom?"

Please.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Shark:

If they want to fire him, they have great grounds on that he's not really an indian at all, and thus has his job under false pretenses.

Works for me ... lying on his resume.

But what doesn't work for me is crossing some imaginary boundary in academic freedom.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I'm just fed up with the lunatics on the left spouting off whenever the hell they want about whatever the hell they want, and then crying like pansies any time someone criticizes them (see also, Robbins, Tim and, more recently, Boxer, Barbara).

JW, I feel your pain, and I agree that shooting off the mouth comes with consequences, as it should.

My focus, and *I* should have been clearer about it (and for that I apologize and for that I'm forever grateful for comments), is that I was objecting to the stated reason of DiStefano about Churchill "overstepping" the "boundaries of academic freedom".

Utter nonsense.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Death Threats? If you say so.

Handy excuse, eh, for Hamilton College to cancel his speaking engagement for reasons of safety as opposed to appearing to bow to alumni coughDONORcough outrage.

I would think Churchill's history of incitements to violence (he uses 'little Eichmanns' to call for the murder of those technocrats/bureaucrats/enablers of what he calls the 'matrix of atrocities' -- i.e., capitalism -- further reflected in his laudatory support of the 9/11 highjackers and calls for more of the same) would be grounds enough for termination.

Of the job variety, that is.

--furious
 
Written By: furious
URL: http://www.shanksvillememorial.net
Looker,
Nice point: "Why now, not 2 years ago?"

I wonder if it isn't because the successful election in Iraq changes the perspective of all the arguments here in the US.

It would be intriguing to see the Iraq elections as not really being any sort of turning point in Iraq, but a huge one in the US, one nearly as big as 9/11.

...or bigger: 9/11 was the day President Bush changed, and the Iraq election was the day he was vindicated? The Iraq election was the day the MSM got on board?

One man being a rudder, and the entire nation being the ship resisting the change of course...
...makes a nice metaphor.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
What's even worse is his amplification of his roosting comments http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/WC022203.html. Honestly, the guy is such a fake (let's see, not actually a native american in any sense of the term;... not actually a scholar, with a bachelors degree from noname state college and not a doctorate in sight...) I don't understand why his supporters would support his salary, since his whole identity rests on despising capitalism.
I think it's called cognitive dissonance.
 
Written By: smiling 52
URL: http://
Hey, its a form of welfare for the leftist "intellectual".

He is actually the same as those fake vets that shown up at war memorials and parades or John Kerry congressional committees in the 70s ;).

The key difference is that his side doesn't care if he is a fake just so long as he pushes the party line.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
A point that I'm a bit curious over, and please forgive any ignorance on my part--this is how I read the information on it's surface--is this: according to an article in Rocky Mountain News, Churchill has been married to a fellow Ethnic Studies professor for the past six months and according to CU's own website, she's a fairly recent addition to the faculty. That strikes me as not only odd, but a possible misuse/abuse of his authority as the department head--hiring on his own wife?
 
Written By: Kayley
URL: http://
He actually should be fired for Vita fraud, since the only reason he was really hired was because of his phony claim that he's Amerindian. CU has been aware of this for a decade, so I don't know if that will hold up as "cause."
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://saturninretrograde.blogspot.com

 
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