Friday, February 04, 2005

What happened to free speech in this country?

I can see it working right now, the arguments, the disgust, but anyway, this defends my stance against hate crimes and the regulation of thoughts or words. If you hate me... fine. If you commit a crime against me, that is another matter.

But I think there is a very dangerous thing that is happening right now. What crime has Ward Churchill committed? If you don't know who he is, do yourself a favor and look up his situation. He's being crucified and forced to resign. Since when did there become a clause attached to the 1st ammendment that said "unless I disagree with you". It's all a matter of degrees, you'll defend someone up until what? A point where statements become too "outrageous"? Give me a break. Didn't Voltaire say something to the effect of "I may disagree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it"? Nevermind he was French, so you must discount what he has to say.


At 9:02 PM, Blogger Ricardo Grande said...

Dude, I can't agree more. It's unbelievable to me that the 9/11 backlash is still going on. In fact, I think I may be coming to the conclusion that this is not a phase at all, but just the permanent state of the American people. Can we really be so stupid? All these people who are complaining probably have no idea about who he is or what he does outside of the quote they read in the paper.
In any event, I looked up his CV and he writes about indigenous groups, in particular the American Indians. So, in that context, clearly his comments make sense. And even if they didn't...this backlash is insane. Of course, this will be taken as more proof that tenure is an outdated idea, and that the professoriate is too liberal, etc. And it couldn't happen in a worse state - Colorado has been contemplating a "Student's Bill of Rights" to prevent liberal indoctrination by professors (will economics professors have to give the other side of lazzeiz faire economics? Probably not). So, this totally blown-out-of-proportion story will probably be the cause of the restriction of academic freedom. Great.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger romeotheBT said...

I can understand the anger that people feel over his essay. I couldn't agree less with what he said; however, I think that it is incredibly important that no matter how disgusting you think what he said was, that you allow him the right to express his ideas.

Come on, you can't tell me that you don't think tenure is an outdated idea :)

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Ricardo Grande said...

It has never been more apparent to me that it is a thoroughly current idea. What is it for? To prevent academics from being fired for having unpopular views. What are they trying to do to this guy? Fire him for unpopular views. If there was no tenure, he'd be gone already. Academic freedom is meaningless if we only stand up for it when what is being said is non-controversial.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger romeotheBT said...

In all actuality I don't really have a problem with tenure. Academic freedom is as you say academic freedom. I do feel though that there should be some recourse for a school to fire a professor if they are neglecting their teaching responsibilities, but I think there are things in place for that right?

In regards to Ward Churchill and the crucification he's gotten... doesn't it seem a little Orwellian to label someone a traitor for speaking their honest opinion? This notion that we are "feeding" the terrorists every time someone speaks negatively of America or the war in Iraq is such an idiotic notion.

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Ricardo Grande said...

Yeah, tenured professors can still be fired for insubordination, illegal activities, and things like that.
The bit about Churchill really is so blown out of proportion. It reminds me of the stuff where people can't admit Hitler might have done something decent at some point in his life, or that the Holocaust is a truly unique event in the history of the world (which was argued just recently by some Israelis). It's not promoting Nazism to say that other genocides have occurred, or that Hitler might have petted a kitten at some point.
9/11 seems to be taking on that kind of cast, which is sad I think. All Churchill is doing is saying that the white colonization of North America was "terrorism" or whatever. Not terribly controversial, until he compares it to 9/11. BOOM! Of course, there is no comparison, the colonization of North America killed millions, not 3,000. :)
I better shut my mouth, I'm not tenured. :)

At 2:08 PM, Blogger romeotheBT said...

Now hold on just a second. Firstly, in Churchill's essay "Some People Push Back: On The Justice Of Roosting Chickens" there are some gross exaggerations and wild accusations. His essay is going a lot further than suggesting that Hitler may have done a nice thing in his life and the essay itself doesn't have anything to do with the white colonization of North America. Secondly Churchill pretty explicitly states his belief that America is completely at fault for the attacks on the WTC and while he may not advocate violence directly in his essay he certainly exonerates those that perpetrated it. The essay is reactionary and meant to incite.

My point is not to defend his essay. It sickens me. And I don't think people's reactions to it are blown out of proportion... people have a right to be angry towards his work. But they also have a responsibility to not threaten his life, or demand that he be fired. They have a responsibility to defend his right to say it. I don't think anyone has an obligation to disseminate his work; however, it has made it's way on to the internet and the minute we start forcing people to resign and threatening their lives for speaking what they want we've really taken a step back as a country.


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