Saturday, February 12, 2005

Freedom of Speech?

We must no longer be afraid of the multifarious views and opinions expressed by the people.
Suharto, Indonesian statesman

What is the difference between Ward Churchill and Eason Jordan?

Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder -- has compared American policy in Iraq to that of Nazi Germany. He also referred to Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the plan to exterminate the Jews, when he called the trade center victims ''little Eichmanns.''

Jordan, a senior executive at CNN who was responsible for coordinating the cable network's Iraq coverage, resigned abruptly last night, citing a journalistic tempest he touched off during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, late last month in which he appeared to suggest that United States troops had deliberately aimed at journalists, killing some.

One keeps his job, the other resigns, but we suspect he was asked to resign. In the corporate world, free speech does not exist, and for professors it is certainly at risk. Since when is having an opinion that on its surface appears outrageous and upon further inspection may have a kernel of truth, which allows the writer or speaker to formulate an attention-grabbing headline an objectionable offense worthy of dismissal or discipline? What happened to just ignoring someone?

9 comments:

On The Mark said...

Isn't Jordan from CNN the guy who caught a lot of flack a couple years ago because he said he didn't report a number of valid news stories in Iraq because he was afraid it would endanger his sources?

Re Churchill. I've only looked at it on the surface, and saw him during a live CNN interview in which he was dreadful, but I think the issue isn't does he have a right to express his views, rather his choice of words and metaphors. For that one has to question his judgment. He could have made his point without framing it in "15 minutes of fame" language.

The Misanthrope said...

I don't support either one. It's just that lately people are getting so excited and outraged over inconsequential people saying things that are designed, as you say, for 15 minutes of fame.

On The Mark said...

Having done a little more research on Jordan, I see the situation as very similar to Churchill. Jordan's a senior exec at a major news organization. If he's going to say (especially someplace like Davos) that U.S. troops are targeting and killing journalists, he has to back it up. Because of his position, he's not in a position to throw out conspiracy theories.

What has happened to common sense in this world? It's really very worrying.

On The Mark said...

I guess people figure that if Rice and Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld can talk falsely about mushroom clouds, WMD and such -- then keep their jobs in the next election...

B2 said...

Hmm. Are we the only ones interested?

I think this Churchill guy is not the guy I want teaching kids. He has no perspective, and speaks to hear himself talk. Freedom of speech keeps you from going to jail for saying things; there's no law that I know of that says you have to keep crazy blowhards on the payroll if you don't want to. Fire away!

Chandira said...

Hey guys! :-)

I happen to think Churchill is great, we need those far left to give us balance. I am glad hes prepared to say what he thinks, no matter how un-pc. I can be pretty un-pc myself. I think he gave public voice to a lot of things some people will never have heard.I seem to be in the minority on this issue, seems every other blog I've read is slamming him, left and right. Oh well. Ever the heretic, I guess... ;-)

Dustin said...

I agree with Chandira, though for different reasons. As to the "15 minutes of fame" school, it bears remembering that Churchill wrote what he wrote 3 years ago -- if "fame" in 2005 was his aim, he must have some pretty good planning skills! As Chandira said, Churchill has said what I've been thinking since 9/11 -- maybe in a bit stronger language than I would have used, but anyone whose read his work knows, that's his style. Arrogant, abrasive, and over-the-top, and maybe it's true -- the rest of us need him to seem Way Out There in order for our more reasoned comments to fly.

BTW, I've blogged a lot about Churchill -- I think 3 posts (so far), maybe more. See www.onemansopinion.org.

The Misanthrope said...

I believe Churchill is like any other well-know pundit these days, saying outrageous things in order to get noticed. Granted, he was ignored until someone surfaced his 9/11 essay, but the more ridiculous the easier it is to engage the masses. Thanks for stopping by.

Chandira said...

Hey Dustin, thank you.. :-)

Being outspoken and attention-grabbing, I guess Ward is a man after my own heart.. (innocent smile)