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College staff find chilling free speech climate

Fair use for educational purposes only!

NEW YORK (AP) --Around the country, college faculty and staff who express opinions on the terrorist attacks and U.S. bombardment of Afghanistan are facing rebuke in public and private, suspension and investigation. At least two professors were asked to leave their schools as a security measure.

Colleges campuses take pride in nurturing debate, but that tradition is being tested in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. People across the political spectrum are feeling the chill.

Some examples:

* University of California at Los Angeles library assistant Jonnie Hargis was suspended without pay for five days after he criticized U.S. support for Israel in an e-mail sent on the school's computers. He was responding to a co-worker's mass e-mailing that praised America. Hargis gave The Associated Press copies of both e-mail messages.

The day the 53-year-old Hargis was penalized, the staff was also told library policy forbids using its e-mail to send unsolicited political or patriotic messages.

Hargis has worked at the library 22 years. He said the policy was news to him, and that he was the only one punished. Library officials declined to talk about the case, but furnished a copy of the policy.

* University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian was placed on indefinite, paid leave for his safety and that of the Tampa campus, a school spokesman said. The university acted after receiving a death threat and angry calls following Al-Arian's appearance on a TV news program in which he was asked about his ties to two suspected terrorists.

Al-Arian said he only knew the men as academics, and that their later links to terrorism shocked him. The computer engineer was also founder of a now-defunct think tank on Middle East issues that the FBI has investigated. Al-Arian was never arrested or charged.

* The day of the attacks, University of New Mexico history professor Richard Berthold said in a course on Western civilization: "Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote."

Soon after his comment became public, violent threats followed and the 55-year-old Berthold agreed to leave the campus for a week for his safety, a spokeswoman said. He has apologized, saying, "I was a jerk," adding that the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of free speech "protects my right to be a jerk." An internal investigation is under way.

Such incidents highlight an erosion of free academic expression that existed before Sept. 11, said Thor Halvorssen, head of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The Philadelphia-based organization finds free legal help for faculty who feel their rights were trampled.

The very vulnerability of free speech in these highly charged times, however, prompted extra restraint at Pennsylvania State University, an administrator said.

Math professor Stephen Simpson's personal Web page, on the school's computers, links to an essay by another writer asserting that the U.S. military must destroy the governments of Afghanistan and Iran, "regardless of the suffering and death this will bring to the many innocents caught in the line of fire."

When some students complained, vice provost Robert Secor passed on their comments to the 56-year-old professor, but refrained from asking that the controversial statement be removed. "There's no action, there's no reprimand," Secor said. "We have to be very careful about protecting the rights of free speech, and we do."

Simpson's only response, he said in an interview, was that he wants the school to clarify where he has a right to air his views.

Many campuses now face quandaries, Secor said. "These are real conflicts," he said, between "what universities feel is civilized behavior -- and free speech that they feel we must protect. I think we still haven't sorted it out yet."

Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.

-- Swissrose (, October 14, 2001


Since when does the constitutional freedom of speech guarantee freedom from angry, even violent, reaction to that speech?

I lost two close friends in the Pentagon, I would just have to bitch slap the Sh*T out that last one and take my lumps for breaking the law.

Liberals, left wing, so called "peace-niks", et al, can (and DO) dehumanize people as much, or MORE, as the ones they hate.


"""Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote."""

any less hate speech than

"""Anyone who can blow up the World Trade Center has my vote."""


-- Ted (, October 14, 2001.

Hooray for the suppression of free speech on our left-wing campuses. In wartime this should, of course, only be temporary. But, for now, only patriotism should be the order of the day.

-- RogerT (, October 14, 2001.

or any less hate speech than advocating blowing up countries where most people can't even state what languages they speak there

murder is murder is murder

"The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. .... "I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. .... "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. "America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war." (Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1967)

"We have committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride, and our arrogance as a nation." (MLK, March 1968)

-- mark (, October 14, 2001.

This is not about suppression of speech, this is about giving aid and comfort to our enemies in a time of war. Less one thinks that the lack of a formal declaration of war means it's not a war, they are sorely mistaken.

The Jerk (self admitted) who gave his hearty approval of the "bombing" of the Pentagon, along with all those that profess similar sentiments (a great deal of the "Progressive" movement) forget one fundamental (and demonstrated) truth. Without what the Pentagon represents -- and the US military -- they would not have ANY freedom of speech (or even be alive). Remember that many of the powers we fought and defeated would "kill the intellectuals, first".

Has our foreign policy been punctuated with horribly misguided -- or even Machiavellian -- acts and bet. Have individuals and groups, in power to do so, misused their position to commit contemptible bet.

The government needs to be criticized and pushed along the evolutionary path to greater and more "enlightened" policies. But only to the point -- and at a time -- when the country can afford that luxury.

Like any group of humans, even with the best of intentions, the US is a work in progress that will never end. You had better keep it alive if you want it reach "a higher state".

However, we do NOT have the luxury to ever lose sight of the demonstrated fact of what this country has offered the world for the first in all of history...the reason we must survive, intact!

A little more than a month ago, even after years of attacks against the "agents" of the US government in their part of the world, I would have joined in on the discussions and criticism of the US foreign policy (with some demand that the overall good we have done be recognized, even if just in the background).

But, now, when my family, my children, my friends and community, my country -- and my -- life are at risk, they better put a check on their words and acts until the we can allow ourselves to indulge in the luxuries this country affords us, again.

Many (most?) of the "progressive" groups have aligned themselves with those that would tear this country down. I've seen enough to strongly suspect that many of the international groups that have had "progressive" support and alliance are directly involved with groups that fund the terrorists that perpetrated the Sept 11 attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.

The "progressives" had better "get in touch" with that fact that they are giving -- at least -- tacit approval of the killing 1000s of Amercian civilians on American soil...and what that really means!!

No matter how they have intellectualized, rationalized, or even condoned those acts as somehow justifiable -- or "a moral equivalent" of US bad deeds -- they better, in no uncertain terms, separate themselves from those that would "stand by" while American civilians are killed...and I mean NOW!

This "yeah, the attacks were horrible, but......", won't be tolerated for very long, at all.

If the threat to the American people's survival gets greater, the "progressives" right to exist may very well be threatened as well. As is somewhat evident by the whining this article indicates, they don't seem to have the "cajones" to take the heat.

Unless and until this threat is over, they had better decide if -- or if not -- they are part of the American family...warts and all. If not, they will lose any the minimum.

Depending on how much the Amercian people's survival is threatened, they have a great deal more to lose.

-- Jackson Brown (, October 14, 2001.

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