Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ward Churchill Fired

It’s official; the University of Colorado Board of Regents met this afternoon and finally fired Ward Churchill by a vote of 8-1. This surprised no one; it was just a formality. The ACLU issued a statement opposing the dismissal, while ACTA vigorously attacked the ACLU’s view, claiming that academic freedom requires the dismissal of evil faculty.

Academic freedom requires both a procedural and a substantive component, and the firing of Churchill violates it in both respects. First, on the procedural grounds, although Churchill did receive due process in terms of faculty investigations, the proposed punishment of dismissal violates the recommended punishment of suspension by most of the faculty. Enhancing the penalty should be done only in extraordinary cases where the faculty judgment is flawed, and certainly not in this case, where the investigation of Churchill’s work only occurred because of his political views.

The Churchill case also violates the substance of academic freedom because the faculty committee was simply incorrect in its judgments. As I wrote on InsideHigherEd.com, Churchill clearly did not commit research misconduct when he cited works that did not support his views about American history. The committee’s conclusions about plagiarism are also unsupported by the facts. We can argue about why the faculty committee at Colorado did such a terrible job–it could have been political pressure, anger at Churchill for being an unrepentant asshole and causing embarrassment to the entire university, an inadequate understanding of academic freedom, or simply an obsession with the academic details of the historical record rather than the question of what mistakes deserve official punishment rather than criticism.

All that has been proven is that Churchill made some dubious claims in his writings without any real evidence, and that he engaged in ghost writing for some other academics. This is appalling, and it should be condemned, but it is nowhere near a firing offense, nor should it be. We need to condemn bad scholarship, not let politically motivated administrators and regents decide what tenured professors get fired for holding unpopular views.

Aaron Barlow seems to argue that we should abandon Churchill. However, when we defend academic freedom, we are defending a principle, not a person. We need to defend people like Ward Churchill, even if they do act like jackasses or idiots sometimes. When Churchill is fired based on trumped up charges for political reasons, it puts all academics (regardless of ideology) at risk.


Anonymous said...

Are you serious? He is a professor whose livelihood is based on scholarship, not fraud. If a lawyer misrepresents a case, he is more than likely going to be disbarred.

He failed to do his job of TEACHING properly...grounds under ANY job for firing.

He is indeed an idiot...and he can now pray that some jury somewhere will find that he was wronged...which is simply NOT going to happen..

Unknown said...

I don't understand why you are announcing that Churchill was fired when no announcement has yet been made. The link you include to document the firing is merely a report made during the Regents' meeting before deliberations were finished.

Anonymous said...

He should not have been fired
however he should as with all teachers come up with facts and evidence to back it up before he
speaks on any subject.

As for your first poster
I was frauded my entire
childhood by the American school
system it is ripe with the stench
of victor's words not fact.

For example Columbus did not discover America but, most American school children think so.

Anonymous said...

Churchill received full due process. He has been appropriately dismissed for academic misconduct. I suggest, Mr. Wilson, that you learn some of the basics of historical research before you post that there were no reasons for firing Mr. Churchill. You are incorrect in your claim that Churchill did nothing wrong. Mis-use of facts, plagiarism, manufactured quotes - its all been documented. He is guilty as charged. It could not happen to a more deserving person. Save your efforts and sympathy for people who really are victims of unfair dismissal. Churchill isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

Great one! Churchill is total garbage.

Ward Churchill wasn't fired for his insane moonbat 9/11 comment. This only put the spotlight on him and people had to investigate, and some extreme things were found which warranted his sacking. Ward Churchill is a fraud, and his upcoming lawsuit against his former employer should serve to educate even more of the public about his insanity and rampant lies and fakery.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
waste citizen's taxes

hire hateful phony teachers
feed them BIG bucks and pensions

absurd thought -
God of the Universe hates
nine-eleven victims

much worse than Bush
and Hitler combined