February 10, 2005

Protecting free speech, one idiot at a time

George Orwell had it right: "Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals could believe them."

Take a look at Ward Churchill, chair of the ethnic studies department at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He has ignited a national firestorm among professors and students on the First Amendment. Among the many offensive things he has said: He compared the victims of 9/11 to Eichmann, one of Hitler's murderers. (Don't ask me how.) He writes in "Some People Push Back" that the people in the World Trade Center got their just deserts. Reading what he wrote causes my stomach to turn worse than two platefuls of Aramark cuisine.

Apparently, the WTC victims were "too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated conveniently out of sight, mind, and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants," writes Churchill. "If there was a better, more effective or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhibiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it."

I struggle to comprehend what it must be like to be a disadvantaged student at the University of Colorado, realizing that this is probably your only shot at a quality and inexpensive education, and still knowing that your federal loans are paying this guy's salary.

I absolutely defend his right to say these cutting and hurtful things. Even David Horowitz, the leader of getting political bias out of the classroom, has stated that firing Churchill for saying what he said would set a bad precedent. The First Amendment needs to be protected here. Does that mean that the taxpayers of Colorado should have to pay for some guy to say spiteful and un-intellectual things. Absolutely not. There is also no lack of irony in the anguish of some liberals over the anti-Churchill backlash. Where was the First-Amendment outcry when Harvard President Larry Summers was so roundly condemned for suggesting that further study be made of how biological differences between women and men may be a reason fewer women do well in science and math? Run your own test. Find someone on campus who thinks Churchill was unfairly treated, then ask if they feel the same about Summers. You'll find that the politically correct censors of the left are just as clueless about what free speech really means as the prudish censors of the right.

Think about it. There is so much that people cannot say anymore that isn't even hate-driven. Think about the cries of "racism" against those who support affirmative action or the attacks on conservatives on this campus as fascists. Although it might be difficult, people on both sides need to recognize that the First Amendment is the only safeguard that keeps the tyranny of the majority from becoming the dictatorship of the majority. I support free speech. I always have and always will. Churchill created an environment both at his school and most likely in his classroom that prevented college students from thinking for themselves. For that he should be fired.

It's nice to see Churchill learning that free speech is a two-way street. There have been calls from the governor of Colorado to fire him. The state legislature is threatening to slash the schools budget by $100,000, $6000 more than his salary. If Churchill likes, I know of a job that is open where the main requirement is political correctness and muzzling the minority: chairman of the Democratic Party.