Sunday, March 29, 2009

The First Amendment -- More than the right to say what people want to hear

While I understand that the remarks made by University of Colorado Ethnic Studies Professor Ward Churchill were seen as offensive by so many people -- My god, on September 12, 2001, this guy had the audacity to refer to the World Trade Center's victims of 9/11 as 'little Eichmanns' -- no one should doubt that the remarks were protected speech under the 1st Amendment, the foundation of our liberty in this country. Yet, soon after the remarks came to light, then-governor Bill Owens called for the tenured professor's ouster from the University. This was wrong: our Constitution does not prohibit you from saying things that upset (or, as in this case, disgust) governments, governors, or ordinary people.

Then the outspoken governor was criticized by advisers (and others) who actually knew about the U.S. Constitution. The next thing we knew, Churchill was under investigation by an academic panel at the University. Then, they threw him out.

How can we justify what happened to the award-winning professor as anything but a witch hunt?? Facts: (1) Churchill says what he says in the press; (2) Churchill's remarks garner widespread negative attention for the unpopular (to say the least) opinion expressed therein; and (3) the University decides to take a look at his work. Unless the University investigates the scholarship of every tenured professor, this is, by definition, a witch hunt!

Not that long ago, the University honored Morris Judd as an apology for ransacking his career during the hateful and dangerous McCarthy era when that (then) promising philosophy professor refused to take the bogus loyalty oath. How quickly we forget!

What a poor job of history education we do here in this country. And what a poor job we do of teaching the magnificent brilliance of our Constitution as the foundation of our civil liberties.

Churchill is now pursuing court action against the University. A Denver jury will decide the case soon. I hope the jury finds in favor of Churchill.


  1. I may not agree with what someone says but I'll defend their right to say it.

  2. Looks like Ward got a negative ruling yesterday. How can they say the investigation was not retaliatory???