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Free Speech, Except for His Enemies

Monday, November 21, 2005, 18:10 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Consider this scenario: A conservative student organization at Warren County Community College in New Jersey plans to present a speech by an Iraq war veteran. They advertise it on campus. One of the organization’s members sent an e-mail to the faculty inviting them to attend. You would probably be prepared for some tough questions about the war following the speaker’s presentation, you might expect a few anti-war protesters to show up in protest, and you would most certainly count on a vandal or two to deface or remove posters advertising the event. What you wouldn’t see coming is the following vitriolic reply from a faculty member:

Dear Rebecca:

I am asking my students to boycott your event. I am also going to ask others to boycott it. Your literature and signs in the entrance lobby look like fascist propaganda and is extremely offensive. Your main poster "Communism killed 100,000,000" is not only untrue, but ignores the fact that CAPITALISM has killed many more and the evidence for that can be seen in the daily news papers. The U.S. government can fly to dominate the people of Iraq in 12 hours, yet it took them five days to assist the people devastated by hurricane Katrina. Racism and profits were key to their priorities. Exxon, by the way, made $9 Billion in profits this last quarter–their highest profit margin ever. Thanks to the students of WCCC and other poor and working class people who are recruited to fight and die for EXXON and other corporations who earning megaprofits from their imperialist plunders. If you want to count the number of deaths based on political systems, you can begin with the more than a million children who have died in Iraq from U.S.-imposed sanctions and war. Or the million African American people who died from lack of access to healthcare in the US over the last 10 years.

I will continue to expose your right-wing, anti-people politics until groups like your won’t dare show their face on a college campus. Real freedom will come when soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors and fight for just causes and for people’s needs–such freedom fighters can be counted throughout American history and they certainly will be counted again.

Prof. John Daly

OK, we get that Daly doesn’t like the war. He gets to have that opinion if he wants to. But that isn’t enough—he is "asking his students" to boycott. Isn’t it a bit irregular for a college professor (or adjunct professor, which is actually what Daly is) to ask his students what to do and what not to do outside his class, on their own time, regarding an activity unrelated to the curriculum?

As you can see, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He doesn’t like the way the government handled Hurricane Katrina (they should have been able to fix New Orleans in less than 12 hours). He thinks capitalism is more dangerous than communism (but offers no substantiating evidence). He doesn’t want Exxon to make high profits and thinks they’re racist (but doesn’t explain how). He blames the U.S. government for a million dead Iraqi children and a million dead African American children (citing no reference for the numbers). If at this point you are hearing the rantings of a loose cannon, you aren’t alone.

What has really gotten Daly into hot water, though, is his desire that people he disagrees with "won’t dare show their face on a college campus." Oh, and the part about soldiers shooting their superiors. I don’t suppose he’d be in favor of students shooting their professors, but that inconsistency is part of the modus operandi of people like John Daly.

Daly defended himself in an article in the Express-Times, but I doubt he persuaded anyone besides his friends at International A.N.S.W.E.R., the radical organization to which he belongs. A.N.S.W.E.R., you may recall, is the group that formed immediately after the September 11 attacks to oppose any military response. It supports communist/socialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-Israel governments, regardless of their human rights records. Indeed, he embraces the same tired "war for oil" rhetoric that the far left has used for years despite the fact that the United States has yet to get any more oil or any cheaper oil than it got before the war. Rising crude oil prices, anyone?

"The only possible end for the war is not going to be from our politicians, who represent corporations," Daly said. "We’re going to stay in Iraq and occupy the Middle East as a profit source that will only change when the students at WCCC who are sent there to die for oil profits decide they’re not going to die there."

He also subscribes to the neo-McCarthyite paranoia that find a vast right-wing conspiracy behind every action or opinion he doesn’t personally like.

"The administration at WCCC believes Rebecca Beach is an innocent student acting alone, but I recognized her literature right away as being part of a national right-wing movement," Daly said. "Her group is an ultra right-wing, possibly fascist, group."

The administration of the college, meanwhile, is frantically trying to figure out the best way to handle this. Their approach changes on a daily basis, as seen in three press releases available on their web site. The first, issued on November 17, essentially takes the "he doesn’t speak for us" tack and proclaims a general acceptance of any faculty expression of personal opinion:

The viewpoints of this professor in no way depict the views of Warren County Community College, its administration, or the Board of Trustees. The College does however support the constitution, the first amendment, and the right to free speech.

Additionally, Mr. Daly’s message was sent as a one-to-one message, via e-mail, to one person, and not to the college community. Finally, the College is viewing this message as a personnel issue and will be addressing it according to the policies and procedures of the College.

One day later, after Daly’s e-mail had become a national news story, the message had changed somewhat, with the college announcing that it is "further investigating Mr. Daly’s conduct and his expression of views in the classroom and on campus" and apparently trying to counteract Daly’s anti-military, anti-capitalist, anti-government remarks with different viewpoints:

WCCC President Dr. William Austin personally welcomed guests to the event, held on Thursday, and introduced Rebecca Beach, president and secretary of the newly formed club. Lt. Col. Rutter’s talk was well received, and deemed a success by attendees.

[ . . . ]

Indeed, Mr. Daly’s comments have caused much controversy on and off campus. Dr. Austin said, "I personally find Mr. Daly’s e-mail disgraceful and offensive, yet I must maintain that the college be a place for free expression, ideas, and open debate."

[ . . . ]

WCCC Chairman of the Board, Ed Smith, said, "We are fortunate to live in a world where so many brave men and women are willing to fight and die for our freedoms, including the right to express one’s opinions."

By Saturday, the message had taken on a decidedly urgent tone:

The Board of Trustees of Warren County Community College will convene an emergency meeting of the Board, Tuesday, November 22, 2005 at 6:30 PM…

The Board of Trustees intends to consider the welfare and rights of its students, the college community, and the public in lieu of recent events.

The problem, of course, is that Mr. Daly holds a position of authority while Ms. Beach does not. Daly’s pledge to rid college campuses from those who dissent from his views is no different from a corporate executive’s attempt to purge the workplace of people with whom he or she disagrees—and be assured that Daly would never stand for that. Dissent must be allowed, unless you’re dissenting from him.

For those who would like to exercise some of that dissent in advance of that board meeting, note that it’s tomorrow night. Those who wish to express their opinions can contact the college’s president, Dr. Austin, at (908) 689-7618 or by e-mail at austin@warren.edu. Mr. Daly’s phone number and e-mail are conspicuously absent from his faculty page at the college’s web site, but presuming the same format of other faculty e-mail addresses, he can most likely be reached at daly@warren.edu, unless he’s in hiding.

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Categories: stupidity
  1. Monday, November 21, 2005, 22:39 EDT at 22:39

    I do pride myself on a basic understanding of English, so I was stymied in following the train of thought in PR Release #3, whereby, in part, “The Board is considering student rights in lieu of recent events.” Choosing students instead of recent events? Or merely relying on a spell checker in lieu of human proofreading. I might have written “in light of”, but that’s just me. Seems that illiteracy is endemic at this college.

  2. Tuesday, November 22, 2005, 01:16 EDT at 01:16

    You have no idea how often I hear friends, co-workers, and even television and radio personalities misuse that phrase. It’s sad.

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