June 27, 2009

Two things y’all may be interested in:

Ward will be featured in an documentary premiering on HBO on the the 29th. I haven’t seen it, but the folks involved seem to really get the issues involved. Trailer and schedule here.

Also, the hearing to decide whether or not Ward will be reinstated is on July 1st. It’d be nice to have folks turn out. As far as I know, it’ll be in the same courtroom as the trial, which is:

Denver District Court Courtroom 6
1437 Bannock St.
Denver, CO

I know haven’t been doing a real good job of keep the trial blog up to date since Ward won, and that probably won’t improve. However, I will be posting about highlights on my own page, here.

From the Daily Camera.

Churchill, who won a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the university last week, said he doesn’t accept the contention that dissatisfaction with his presence on campus should prevent his reinstatement.

“If it would make a bunch of people uncomfortable on the Boulder campus, what’s the argument?” Churchill said. “They violated my rights, therefore to spare them discomfort I should not be restored to what I was unlawfully deprived of? That’s somewhat tenuous.”

For those at CU who can’t stand having him so close, Churchill has an offer:

“If it really makes you that uncomfortable, you’re free to leave,” he said.

. . .

Churchill said, in the end, it’s up to him whether to accept reinstatement if it is awarded.

He would first have to assess whether CU, which he said had “degenerated to a not very glorified vo-tec, a trade school” still met his standards.

Think again

April 6, 2009

Stanley Fish weighs in on the verdict for the New York Times. It is, by far, the most reasoned account of Ward Churchill’s so-called academic misconduct to appear in the mainstream media. (Christ, wouldn’t it be fun to have a real newspaper in out fair cowtown?)

Last Thursday, a jury in Denver ruled that the termination of activist-teacher Ward Churchill by the University of Colorado had been wrongful (a term of art) even though a committee of his faculty peers had found him guilty of a variety of sins.

The verdict did not surprise me because I had read the committee’s report and found it less an indictment of Churchill than an example of a perfectly ordinary squabble about research methods and the handling of evidence. The accusations that fill its pages are the kind scholars regularly hurl at their polemical opponents. It’s part of the game. But in most cases, after you’ve trashed the guy’s work in a book or a review, you don’t get to fire him. Which is good, because if the standards for dismissal adopted by the Churchill committee were generally in force, hardly any of us professors would have jobs.

At least two reviewers of my 2001 book “How Milton Works” declared that my reading of “Paradise Lost” rests on an unproven assumption that Milton repeatedly and designedly punned on the homonyms “raised” (elevated), “razed” (destroyed) and “rased” (erased). I was accused of having fabricated these puns out of thin air and of building on the fabrication an interpretive house of cards that fell apart at the slightest touch of rationality and evidence.

I use the criticism of my own work as an example because to talk about the many others who have been accused of incompetence, ignorance, falsification, plagiarism and worse would be bad form. And it wouldn’t prove anything much except that when academics assess one another they routinely say things like, “Professor A obviously has not read the primary sources”; “Professor B draws conclusions the evidence does not support”; “Professor C engages in fanciful speculations and then pretends to build a solid case; he’s just making it up”; “Professor D does not acknowledge that he stole his argument from Professor E who was his teacher (or his student).”

The Denver Post has finally decided to acknowledge what the jury is actually saying about its verdict, running an interview with Bethany Newill, the only juror talking. (Although they haven’t deigned to correct yesterday’s editorial, which Ms. Newill is directly contradicting.)

To some degree, I think we can all thank Michael Roberts for this story getting out there at all. But, more, we have to be incredibly thankful for the courage of Ms. Newill. She’s doing everything she can to set the record straight, and for her efforts, she is — as the comments in the Denver Post article attest — being attacked by every little chickenshit asshole in Denver. And the attack’s not restricted to comment trolls and bloggers. Caplis and Silverman have launched a couple of dozen snide asides her way, and it’s only a matter of time before the newspapers join in.

Unlike me, she never set out to start a fight. She’s just trying to correct the obvious and continuing lies being thrown out there by the shockjocks at KHOW and the pundits in the local newspapers. And for her trouble, she’s getting the whole-hog smear treatment.

Here’s to her. I wish to God we’d had five more with her courage on CU’s faculty, in the media, or on the board of regents, instead of the gutless clones we were stuck with. We might have averted this idiotic witchhunt altogether. Hell, we might even live in a state with some regard for the, like, Constitution.

Michael Roberts! Redux!

April 3, 2009

I’ve long been a fan of Michael Roberts’ reporting for Westword, but my regard has been skyrocketing over the last week or so.

And now it’s off the charts.

Michael Roberts has landed the only real interview yet to appear with the only Ward Churchill jury member talking to the media. Make sure you read the whole thing.

It’s spectacular stuff, and punches holes the size of traincars in the rightwing narrative being spun in the Denver Post and Daily Camera, not to mention KHOW.

This from the Denver Post’s editorial board. Which, I’m thinking, now includes Vincent Carroll.

Ward Churchill got a dollar more than he deserved.

A jury decided Thursday that the former University of Colorado professor was fired in retaliation for a controversial essay, yet awarded him a mere dollar in damages, the minimum allowable.

Maybe the jury came to the conclusion there was enough blame to go around. How else do you explain the rationale?

Hmm, maybe the geniuses at the Denver Post just missed yesterday’s call into the Caplis and Silverman show by one of the jurors. Y’know, the one where she explained exactly why they voted for nominal damages.

Or maybe the staff at the Denver Post are, well, still lying. I’d guess that after four years of it, it might be kind of hard to break the habit.

Word has it that CU is responsible for David Lane’s lawyer fees. And, as I hear it, they’re in the seven figure range.

I don’t think you could wipe this grin off my face with a tire iron.