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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Homespun Symposium XV

This week's question comes from Derek:

Harvard University president Lawrence Summers has been criticized, and may have jeopardized his job, for stating that the gender gap in the sciences and engineering may be due to inherent differences in the way men and women think.

Meanwhile, Colorado University is weighing a possible buyout offer to professor Ward Churchill in the wake of his condemnation of the World Trade Center victims on 9/11 as "Little Eichmanns". The university, apparently fearing an expensive lawsuit, is hesitant to fire Churchill, who has been denounced for years by Native American groups for falsely claiming Indian heritage and recently exposed by Michelle Malkin and others for passing off the works of others as original art.

Should these men be protected for exercising their rights of free speech? Does an employer have the right to terminate an employee for statements that are contrary to the employer's beliefs? Are these cases similar?
The case of Lawrence Summers is easy. Harvard is a private institution and, therefore, has the right to fire anyone they like for whatever reason (aside from the obvious ones covered by anti-discrimination laws and contract obligations, of course). Should they fire him? In all honesty, I don't think so. What did he really say? Although I can't find the actual transcript, here's what the Boston Globe reported:

Now that the transcript of Summer’s remarks at the National Bureau of Economic Research Conference on Diversifying the Science and Engineering Workforce on Jan. 14 has been released, let's clarify what Summers did not say. He did not say that women are intellectually inferior to men or that women can't be great scientists. He did not say that young women shouldn't be encouraged to pursue careers in math and science or that there is no need to combat discrimination. (In fact, he said just the opposite.) He did suggest that even with the best efforts, full parity might be unattainable.
Why might full parity be unattainable? Summers goes on to suggest that there are fewer women than men willing to commit themselves completely to their careers (sorry feminists, it turns out, despite your best efforts, some women still want to raise children). He also cited biological differences between men and women...but he did not say that women are dumb or unable to perform well in mathematics and science. Rather, he apparently cited the fact that men tend to cluster at the high and low ends of the intelligence scale while women are more likely to be near the middle. Are those statements insulting? So long as it's true (and I think they are), they cannot be insulting. It's the way it is. So, Lawrence Summers made comments that angered some people while generally sticking to facts. I don't think that's a fireable offense.

Now, Ward Churchill. He is an employee of a public university and therefore, (I think) more immune to arbitrary firing than a professor at a private university (although I could be wrong about that). Regardless, let's just focus on the merits of his case. He is perfectly free to exercise his rights as protected by the First Amendment...to a point. He can certainly disagree, harangue, lambaste and otherwise nip at the heels the US government for just about anything he dislikes. The thing that he cannot do is to directly call for the deaths of Americans. That crosses the line and is, in my opinion, a firing offense absolutely regardless of contract obligations. In conducting himself in such a despicable fashion, he is giving aid and comfort to the enemy by showing them that they have sympathizers here. He as the right to say or write whatever he likes, but he does not have the right to use tax money to do it. He should have been fired years ago.


For anyone who has not yet read the actual words, please go here for the full text of Churchill's essay. Just in case you can't read the whole thing because you're busy vomiting, here is how it ends:

And when they do, when they launch these airstrikes abroad – or may a little later; it will be at a time conforming to the "terrorists"' own schedule, and at a place of their choosing – the next more intensive dose of medicine administered here "at home."

Of what will it consist this time? Anthrax? Mustard gas? Sarin? A tactical nuclear device?

That, too, is their choice to make.

Looking back, it will seem to future generations inexplicable why Americans were unable on their own, and in time to save themselves, to accept a rule of nature so basic that it could be mouthed by an actor, Lawrence Fishburn, in a movie, The Cotton Club.

"You've got to learn, " the line went, "that when you push people around, some people push back."

As they should.

As they must.

And as they undoubtedly will.

There is justice in such symmetry.


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