My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


A Comparison Of Three Free Speech Moments

Big in the news of late, and not thickly gracing the pages of this blog, are three separate and interesting cases of candid conversations, free speech, and consequences.

The first of these is the most local one: Professor Ward Churchill's assertion in a 2001 essay that the victims of 9/11 were not "innocent;" indeed, he described their capitalist efforts in the World Trade Centers as akin to "little Eichmanns."

The second one of these is Harvard President Lawrence Summer's posing the idea that there is an intrinsic quality lacking in women which may explain the relative dearth of women in positions of science in higher ed.

And the third is the assertion by CNN Executive Vice President Eason Jordan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that American troops have targeted journalists in Iraq and killed many as a result.

First of all, it needs to be made clear that, as of this writing, nobody has been arrested. Why? Well, of course, because each was speaking well within their rights under the U.S. Constitution. In other words, no law has been broken, and no governmental body has yet to do a thing in reprisal for these rhetorical rhapsodies.

What has happened so far? Ward Churchill has resigned from the departmental chairmanship of the Ethnic Studies Dept at the University of Colorado, and the Board of Regents is in the midst of an investigation into the process by which he was hired, got tenure, and continues to embarass the University. Lawrence Summers has apologized--profusely--for the comments he made, while large parts of the faculty at Harvard have signed a "Letter of Concern." And Eason Jordan, while refusing to ask for a release of the transcript of the session (which his employer also refused to do), has resigned from CNN.

So, two things jump to mind about these stories. First, note that neither CNN nor the University of Colorado, or the mainstream media or the greater University of Colorado, have had anything to say by way of censure of the two in their midst. Rather, what seems to be more the case is that these two institutions have circled the wagons around their embattled persons, and have been very free throwing around terms like "McCarthyism" and "censorship." Summers, on the other hand, has been basically reduced to prostrating himself at the alter of academia in hopes of slowing down the tidal wave, while the institution of which he is a part--in both small terms and large terms--has been up in arms and calling for his scalp. Why does his offense rate such treatment by his peers when the others don't? Ding Ding Ding! you guessed it: he said something to which there is actual empirical evidence. No, no, no. . .that's not it. It's because he violated the all-important code of Political Correctness.

And, secondly, note the links I posted above--all of them were links to MSM stories very early in the controversy. Churchill: three years later; Jordan: two weeks after the event; Summers: one day after the event. The first two only broke into the MSM after the work of a college newspaper coupled with good work by a radio talk show, and the work of bloggers coupled with Hugh Hewitt. Lawrence Summers, however, was MSM news almost immediately.

This is what we're talking about when we say there's a predominantly liberal bias in the both academia and the media. If you still doubt it, imagine the outcry if Miguel Estrada had gone before the Federalist Society and posited the idea that Affirmative Action has done noticable damage blacks attempting to getting into the law profession. No. . .think about it. You see my point.

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