This second infraction was much worse because it involved the attack of an AAUP member on some students, rather than on another professor. The students were fighting to keep Democrats from joining their College Republican group with full voting rights as well as the right to run for office. They claimed the freedom of association clause of the First Amendment trumped the university’s non-discrimination clause. Eventually, the Republicans won the fight.
Of course, the AAUP member couldn’t resist the temptation to write about the controversy in the local paper. Unfortunately, he defamed the students claiming falsely that they were trying to keep blacks and Jews out of their organization. When the kids asked for an apology for the defamation the card-carrying AAUP member refused.
During the very same semester there was another free speech controversy that was enlightened by more AAUP brilliance (sarcasm: on). This one began when a history professor claimed she had friends who were terrorists in the Middle East. The statement was made in a public forum by a professor who was a public figure on the issue of terrorism. In response, a conservative student decided to publicize her claim in the student newspaper.
After the student simply reported what the public figure said, she threatened the student newspaper with a libel lawsuit. So the former president of the UNCW chapter of AAUP came to the rescue. But he came to the rescue of the professor, not the newspaper.
In a news interview the AAUP propagandist said the students were “totally confused” if they though the general theme of the professors remarks was “terrorism.” The students rightly pointed out that his remarks were – in typical AAUP fashion – completely irrelevant. They were complaining about a single sentence - “I have friends who are terrorists in the Middle East”- not the theme of the talk.
When our friend from the AAUP invited the students to engage in an email debate he said they should feel free to share it with friends. The two students – Michael Pomarico and Zeb Wright – simply excoriated the AAUP professor. The debate was so lopsided that he rescinded the offer to share the emails.
Unfortunately, the student newspaper yanked (from the online site) the original article reporting accurately that the professor who had terrorist friends in the Middle East said “I have terrorist friends in the Middle East.” She was allowed to offer a dishonest rebuttal, which would be the final word on the controversy. The newspaper capitulated to a bogus legal threat due in part to AAUP support of a dishonest professor with terrorist friends in the Middle East.
And, now, finally, nearly two years after I filed a federal lawsuit claiming violations of my First Amendment rights, I have read a communication about the case from the former Oregon State University AAUP President. Some will remember that he sent me a series of emails last week showing why he has the requisite mental stability to be a Professor Emeritus of Psychology. Among the epithets he hurled were “dishonest”, “hateful”, “stupid”, “idiotic”, “indecent”, “propagandist” and “bigot.”
In an internet posting that added the new epithets “failure,” phony,” and “homophobe” the former AAUP chapter president claimed falsely that I had filed a suit against UNC over “anti-Southern bigotry.” Furthermore, he botched literally every single fact in the post, which he subsequently pulled in an act of intellectual onanism.
The point here is not that every member of the AAUP is an unhinged bigot engaging in psychological projection. The point is that literally every time a member of the AAUP gets involved in a free speech case, the motivation is one of politics not principle. The debate always dwindles after the first AAUP “contribution.”
So, naturally, I hope that serious First Amendment defenders will continue to support the NAS. And I hope the AAUP will stick to issues they can handle such as faculty parking and separate bathrooms for trans-gendered professors.
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