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Firing the 'Politically Incorrect' is censorship
HoustonChronicle.com ^ | Nov. 14, 2001, 6:17PM | NORAH VINCENT

Posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:21 PM PST by rw4site

ROBERT Jensen is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, but if a gaggle of irate Texans get their way, he won't be for long. He's one of a handful of academics who are protesting the war in Afghanistan and have been denouncing it loudly at campus rallies. He's gone so far as to call the United States a terrorist nation ("U.S. just as guilty of committing own violent acts," Outlook, Sept. 14) and to opine that our conflict abroad is a "war of lies, the culmination of a decade of U.S. aggression."

As Gregg Easterbrook reported recently in the Wall Street Journal, a letter-writing campaign is calling for the university to fire Jensen. Other campuses are similarly aflame. New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser recently denounced the City College of New York as "a breeding ground for idiots" after several faculty members voiced similar anti-American opinions.

Conservative pundits have pounced on this issue with a vengeance, arguing that while the First Amendment gives professors such as Jensen the right to say what they like, it doesn't shield them from the consequences of saying it.

This is true sometimes but not always. What really matters is whether the consequences are incidental or severe.

Incidental consequences are often unpleasant; the kinds of reactions you can expect when you say something asinine or unpopular in public. People ostracize you, write letters denouncing you, call you an idiot, as Peyser did the New York professors. This is fair play. After all, the critic has a right to free speech as well.

Severe consequences are something else altogether. They include things such as putting a gun to the speaker's head or threatening the speaker's livelihood. Firing professors such as Jensen for things they say at anti-war rallies falls into this category. You can fire a professor because he's a bad or unqualified teacher, but you shouldn't be able to fire him because he expresses unpopular views. Otherwise, the First Amendment would be meaningless. After all, how free can your speech be if your job is in peril if you say the wrong thing?

Yanking advertisements from network television shows should also be unconstitutional. This happened recently to Bill Maher, host of the late-night talk show Politically Incorrect, after he said a few politically incorrect things about the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack.

Why do I believe that rescinding ad revenue constitutes censorship? Don't advertisers have the right to advertise when and where they please?

Because Maher's show depends on advertising money for its survival, the advertisers were not just registering their discontent (they could have done that in a written statement), they were knowingly jeopardizing the show and thereby attempting to silence the speaker by forcing him off the air.

Of course, there is no law that prevents advertisers from revoking their support for shows. But if we are going to remain true to the spirit of the First Amendment, we should pass one.

A show's livelihood should not depend on its purveyance of correct speech, even when we're at war.

Advertisers should be forced, by contract, to commit their advertisements for a specified amount of time, regardless of what happens on a show. Either that or the networks should use a small portion of all advertising revenues for an insurance fund to cover pullouts. Otherwise Madison Avenue is, in effect, playing Big Brother.

Denouncing someone for his views is kosher. But intimidation and coercion -- including the kind of economic coercion that threatens jobs and livelihoods -- are censorship, however you spin it.


Vincent is a free-lance journalist who lives in New York City.




TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: billofrights
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Original article - U.S. just as guilty of committing own violent acts

Response to Original - Jensen's words his own (U.S. just as guilty of committing own violent acts)

1 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:21 PM PST by rw4site
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To: rw4site
Here's a hint. No one is censoring the perfessor. He was, is and will be free to say any stupid damn thing he wants. The USCON does not afford him any privilege from being exempt from the ramification of such "free" speech however.
2 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:21 PM PST by mgc1122
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To: rw4site
Gee! Where was this guy when homosexuals destroyed the Dr. Laura show.
3 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:22 PM PST by ijcr
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To: rw4site
You forgot the "Barf Alert" warning. :-)
4 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:22 PM PST by Aunt Polgara
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Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: rw4site
So its only censorship if the speaker is a government paid liberal?
6 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:22 PM PST by VA Advogado
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To: mgc1122
Amen. Don't seem to remember him attacking the NAACP for its economic boycott of S. Carolina. I wonder why... (Okay, I don't really.)
7 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:22 PM PST by dell Arpa
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To: rw4site
What??!! Words have consequences??!!
8 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:22 PM PST by DB
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: rw4site
Yanking advertisements from network television shows should also be unconstitutional.

Huh?

10 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:22 PM PST by stevem
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To: rw4site
How about the boycott of Florida orange juice, by the NEA, when Rush became their main spokesman?
11 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:23 PM PST by diggerwillow
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To: rw4site
The first amendment does not protect sedition, however.
12 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:23 PM PST by Rudder
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To: rw4site
Of course a freelance journalist is going to like the idea of advertisers being forced to pay for media. That's like Del Monte wanting to pass a law that everyone serve green bean casserole at Thanksgiving.
13 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:23 PM PST by bleudevil
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To: rw4site
If the professor had said that Martin Luther King was an adulterer, the liberals would not be crying "censorship" when he got fired.
14 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:23 PM PST by AppyPappy
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

To: rw4site
"You can fire a professor because he's a bad or unqualified teacher, but you shouldn't be able to fire him because he expresses unpopular views. Otherwise, the First Amendment would be meaningless. After all, how free can your speech be if your job is in peril if you say the wrong thing?"

Humm, I don't recall ANYBODY in the media taking this position when baseball's John Rocker got hounded into an suspention for his Sports Illustrated comments and almost lost his job. Or, when Dr. Laura got hounded off television by the gay rights organizations. Would the author have the same opinion if a professor suddenly announced that they were a member of a far right hate group such as the Christian Identity movement and started making racist lectures? Of course she wouldn't. What hypocrites!

16 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:23 PM PST by joebuck
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To: rw4site
.....intimidation and coercion -- including the kind of economic coercion that threatens jobs and livelihoods -- are censorship, however you spin it.

Yep , and your opinions were just published on the pages of FR, reaching a far greater readership than you imagined.....unspun and uncoerced.

However, intimidation , flogging, and other sorts of diabolical punishment isn't.

17 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:23 PM PST by prognostigaator
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To: rw4site
Would it be censorship if the student body refused to attend his class? I hope the students find alternatives to the teachings of a buffoon. Then the further employment of his services at the university would be rendered moot.
18 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:23 PM PST by BufordP
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To: one_particular_harbour
I agree with you. Seriously, why do we have the tradition of tenure in academia? Workers in lots of other jobs are productive without this guarantee of job security.
19 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:23 PM PST by bleudevil
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To: *BillOfRights
bump

Sounds fair to me.

20 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:24 PM PST by Khepera
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To: prognostigaator
Giving aid and comfort to the enemy is illegal. That certainly appears to be what prof. Jensen is doing but then what else could one expect from an anti-American college professor.He would seem to be a member of the blame America crowd. When the Soviet Union existed the intelligence branches of the Soviet government referred to American's who turned on America as s%%t eaters. It seems as if the professor has a very large spoon.
21 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:24 PM PST by em2vn
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To: joebuck
Humm, I don't recall ANYBODY in the media taking this position when baseball's John Rocker got hounded into an suspention for his Sports Illustrated comments and almost lost his job.

The key word in that sentence is "almost".

Or, when Dr. Laura got hounded off television by the gay rights organizations.

Dr. Laura is no longer on television because of poor ratings and for no other reason. If people had watched, she'd still be on.

22 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:24 PM PST by sakic
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To: All; hobbb; Aunt Polgara
I forgot to post a "Barf Alert," but it appears you (hobbb) forgot to use the close sarcasm (</sarcasm>) tag.
23 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:24 PM PST by rw4site
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To: rw4site
Of course, there is no law that prevents advertisers from revoking their support for shows.
But if we are going to remain true to the spirit of the First Amendment, we should pass one
.

All your money belongs to us.

24 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:24 PM PST by Diogenesis
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To: em2vn
If one can't speak out against the government, one might as well live under a dictatorship.
25 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:24 PM PST by sakic
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To: rw4site
economic coercion

As an employee of a newspaper, I think I'll use this line on the next person who calls to cancel his classified ad. "No, no, you can't cancel! You must keep running your help-wanted ad, even though the job is filled. You're taking away our ad revenue, and that's economic coercion!"

26 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:24 PM PST by bleudevil
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To: mgc1122
Marge Schott, Jimmy the Greek, Al Campanis
27 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:24 PM PST by saminfl
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To: Diogenesis
Their expressions in that pic almost look like they know how silly PETA is ...almost.
28 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:25 PM PST by bleudevil
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To: sakic
From your home page.....

"Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever. " - Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

I probably fit in the 'obscurity' class, but when do (did) you become 'Glorious?'

29 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:25 PM PST by rw4site
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To: rw4site
Have you eve met anyone who is liberal and productive?
30 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:25 PM PST by ChadGore
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To: rw4site
Of course, there is no law that prevents advertisers from revoking their support for shows. But if we are going to remain true to the spirit of the First Amendment, we should pass one.

A law like this would in turn be unconstitutional, as it would violate the advertisers freedom to "associate" with whom he/she wishes. If an advertiser does not want his/her product associated with a blathering liberal, it is their choice not to advertise on that program.

Likewise, if a particuular institution does not want their good name tarnished by the acts of one or a few radicals whose ideologies differ, then the institution is free to dis-associate themselves. It's their right.

Any "laws" to the contrary would in effect "force" people to associate with those with whom they disagree.

31 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:25 PM PST by peteram
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To: one_particular_harbour
Tenure is a very stupid system, these guys feel as though they are entitled to their jobs and have some kinf of right to use their jobs to promote their own political agenda. They're paid to teach the students, maybe do some research but they aren't paid to promote their communist agenda and it's time they realized that.
32 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:25 PM PST by FITZ
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To: rw4site
You know, the First Amendment only says that Congress shall pass no laws restricting free speech. It doesn't say a blessed thing about protecting the jobs of professors who make asses of themselves, or compelling free enterprise to support ideas it doesn't like.

This guy is a total moron!
33 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:26 PM PST by WyldKard
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To: rw4site
BOYCOTT THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE!
34 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:26 PM PST by isthisnickcool
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To: rw4site
If he had not used the his position at the University to amplify his seditious statements he would get a pass. Let the cow chips fall where they may.
35 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:30 PM PST by hsszionist
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To: sakic
"The key word in that sentence is "almost"

Just as this professor has not lost his job either. There were many more people calling for Rocker to be fired than there have been for this professor. I don't recall anyone in the media trying to defend Rocker's freedom of speech or disagreeing with those who wanted him fired. My point still stands.

36 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:30 PM PST by joebuck
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To: mgc1122
The USCON does not afford him any privilege from being exempt from the ramification of such "free" speech however.

As a point of law, the 1st Amendment does in fact protect the liberal idiot professors from the ramifications of their speech -- not because they are liberal idiot professors -- but because one of them is employed by the City of New York and the other is employed by the State of Texas. If they were employed by private colleges or universities, they could be fired for the content of their speech (or for any other reason) without running afoul of the 1st Amendment, which would not even come into play, subject only to the terms and conditions of their private contracts with their employer.

37 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:30 PM PST by Labyrinthos
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Comment #38 Removed by Moderator

Comment #39 Removed by Moderator

To: rw4site
I probably fit in the 'obscurity' class, but when do (did) you become 'Glorious?'

There was a ceremony to commemorate the occasion. It was in all the papers.

40 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:31 PM PST by sakic
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To: ijcr
Didn't you know that 1st Amendment rights only get trumpeted when it is conservatives beating up on liberals. Never will you hear a liberal talking about a conservatives 1st Amendment rights in the manner this article is written.

It is sort of like the liberal idea of "bipartisanship". Conservatives must work to agree with the liberal slant; never the other way around. Diversity is when everyone gets in lock step with the left.

Message to the left: Don't push us too far. If you think the way we went to the streets during the attempted theft of the presidential election was scarey, just keep up with your "hate America" free speach crap, but remember to wear your "hard hats" when you take to the streets.

41 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:31 PM PST by ImpBill
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To: joebuck
Just as this professor has not lost his job either.

Then we agree. Neither the professor nor Rocker should lose their jobs.

42 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:32 PM PST by sakic
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To: rw4site
Yanking advertisements from network television shows should also be unconstitutional.

We would need to eliminate the 1st Amendment to accomplish that.

43 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:32 PM PST by Always Right
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To: rw4site
Unfortunately author Vincent labors under a typically liberal delusion - that Jensen, Maher, and others have a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to teach at the university of their choice or have your own show on TV.
44 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:32 PM PST by ncpastor
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To: rw4site
Was he out there protesting the attacks on the Boy Scouts?????
45 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:33 PM PST by OldFriend
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To: one_particular_harbour
Tenure is nothing more than a way to ensure poor performance. If these people knew they would be held accountable for how they teach and how they represent themselves acadamia would be a different world than it is now.
46 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:33 PM PST by riley1992
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To: Lucius Cornelius Sulla
I concur. But while both sides bicker towards a possible unsatisfactory resolution, I hope the students (and/or their parents) demonstrate an even more expedient censure.
47 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:33 PM PST by BufordP
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To: Lucius Cornelius Sulla
...make that "more expedient and effective censure."
48 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:34 PM PST by BufordP
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To: rw4site
I have a question...what job, outside of teaching in colleges, permits employees to take work time to denounce the actions of the government? Why the hell do these morons expect to be allowed to do that?

I think that we all should take time during our work day, stand up, and praise the President, let's see how fast we get fired.

49 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:34 PM PST by Luis Gonzalez
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To: rw4site
You can fire a professor because he's a bad or unqualified teacher, but you shouldn't be able to fire him because he expresses unpopular views.

This is dishonest analysis of the situation with Jensen.

Professors express unpopular views all the time. People grumble about it, but they keep their jobs. That's not what Jensen did (and continues to do).

Jensen is flirting with sedition and treason against his country while it is under foreign attack. In his position at a state funded university, this carries especially repugnant connotations. It's like asking Coca Cola to keep paying a spokesman who constantly derides Coke in favor of Pepsi. The first amendment doesn't compell continued employment.

Advertisers should be forced, by contract, to commit their advertisements for a specified amount of time, regardless of what happens on a show.

They already are forced to abide by the terms of the contracts they sign. This goofball is now suggesting someone other than the parties involved in the contract should get to define the terms - all in the name of protecting sedition.

Only an utter moron thinks protecting sedition from legal consequences by private parties is an essential function of government.

50 posted on 11/16/2001 1:15:34 PM PST by Snuffington
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