January 07, 2006


Long Live Animal Farm

...In George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm, the barnyard inhabitants decide to rebel against the oppressive farmer Mr. Jones. After the rebellion, the animals have full reign of the pastures, fields, and dwellings, and the pigs—the most intelligent of the lot—decide to run the show. They eventually establish seven commandments by which all the animals will live, but soon find themselves breaking the commandments. No matter, for the pigs stealthily alter the commandments when the other animals aren’t looking as to abide by the rules.
...The administration at DePaul University was taking notes.
...Last fall, DePaul sponsored a lecture and workshop guided by Ward Churchill, a professor at the University of Colorado who found fame by calling the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack “little Eichmanns,” the U.S. military “cowards,” and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright a “malignant toad.” He was later accused of plagiarism by a fellow college professor, given a special pass in Colorado’s hiring practices, produced a painting virtually identical to another artist, had his Native American “heritage” called into question when the tribe to which he supposedly belonged insisted that he was nothing more than an honorary member, and had yet another professor discover that he falsified historical incidents.
...DePaul’s College Republicans decided to protest his visit, and produced flyers that listed Churchill’s quotes. DePaul big-wigs didn’t like the idea of a protest, and at first dishonestly hinted that the flyers would be unnecessary, as the event wasn’t definite. The administrators then drew up a rule banning “propaganda,” and quickly deemed the anti-Churchill flyers as such. School authorities also hastily issued a warning stating that events could not be protested.
...The matter was brought to the attention of the First Amendment advocacy group the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which placed enough pressure upon DePaul stiffs to finally persuade them to change their anti-free speech measures, even though the process included the school’s president, Dennis Holtschneider, actually lying about the existence of the propaganda rule. The Mussolini-in-training Holtschneider actually had the nerve to refer to DePaul’s “respect of freedom of speech” and “variety of viewpoints.”
...For years we’ve been told that colleges and universities are places to exchange diverse opinions and contrasting viewpoints. All the while, many of these same academic institutions have been at the forefront of silencing views that might not fit the mold of what they want to hear. DePaul is yet another example.
...While I probably disagree with many of the things that DePaul’s College Republicans have to say, I wholeheartedly support their right to speak their mind—just as Churchill can speak his. Once we decide to quash one view, we open the doors—if not the floodgates—to quashing many views, until the views of those who are in control are the only ones that can be heard.
...In this case, DePaul University welcomed a professor whose academic ethics are practically non-existent. Indeed, the school’s College Republicans were probably more concerned with Churchill’s radical viewpoints, as opposed to his corrupt methods for self-advancement, but with that said, an opposing viewpoint was almost suppressed in a sad attempt to achieve one-sidedness.
...The school’s Website states that “[y]ou can learn something about DePaul University from the facts.” We have thus far, and it seems that a more appropriate statement would be, “All voices are equal, but some voices are more equal than others.”


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