Blogs > Cliopatria > Churchill Prevails in Trial

Apr 2, 2009

Churchill Prevails in Trial

Ward Churchill has prevailed in his wrongful termination suit against the Univ. of Colorado. (He was awarded $1.) The case, by the way, was covered in a wonderful live-blog, which accurately predicted that the jury would decide for Churchill.

I disagreed at the time with the decision to terminate, since it seemed to me impossible to separate the decision to investigate his academic misconduct from his offensive essays; and also because Colorado, which hired Churchill under a"diversity" hiring initiative that seemed tailored to hire underqualified faculty with extremist views, knew or should have known what it was getting when it hired Churchill.

The low point of the trial came when former Univ. of Colorado president Betsy Hoffman seemed more concerned with the criticism she received from ACTA than with what it said about the U of C's personnel policies that someone like Churchill could not only have been hired but tenured.

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Robert KC Johnson - 4/3/2009

I agree completely that the offenses uncovered in the inquiry were very serious. The problem, however, was that the inquiry never would have taken place without the public outraged caused by the essay. I should say that I don't think either option--dismissal or, say, a 5-year suspension--was a good one, just that the suspension option was the least bad option.

An aside, at least from reading the live-blog of the trial: it seems as if the trial spent considerable time going over the question of Churchill's academic misconduct, and that jurors asked a number of questions on the matter (jurors can ask questions in CO). What seemed pretty clear was that the jurors had a different, and more lenient, understanding of what constitutes academic misconduct than virtually all professors would--partly explaining the verdict.

Ralph M. Hitchens - 4/3/2009

KC has it right. The U. of Colorado should have acknowledged that its high-risk "diversity" policy brought Churchill into the fold, and stayed completely away from the all-too-well publicized first amendment issue. I thought an outside academic examination of the plagiarism and shoddy scholarship with broad public dissemination of the findings would do all that was necessary to justify termination, but perhaps I don't understand academia that well.

Jacques Anthony Pluss - 4/3/2009

Well, Churchill still has a bit of a legal journey to take before he might be reinstated, if, in fact, he wants to be. And the proceedings actually prove very little in terms of the "defense of First Amendment Rights" and those rights' relationship to "academic freedom." What is most telling, in truth, is the award of $1.00--which is a tacit indication that Churchill's "offensive" essay(s) were indeed considered unethical and inappropriate. BUT one might recall my case--dismissed in a moment's notice from Fairleigh-Dickinson University supposedly for excessive absences but, in fact, because it became known that I was/am a neo-Nazi (and have been most of my life), a point which I NEVER advertized in my academic life, and which spanned 20 years. I was not tenured at FDU; I was not even full-time, but was an adjunct "keeping my hand in" after having left a tenured position at another university partly to devote myself to a newly-acquired horse farm and partly because I'd simply "had it" with full-time academe. Needless to say, my academic career never measured up to my first two years of teaching--at The University of Chicago. Yet to get back on point--after my dismissal from FDU, and the (short-lived) rave it caused, my attorney informed me that "I probably had a wrongful dismissal case" against FDU, but he advised me to drop the matter since nobody but the lawyers would see any real cash, and I'd become an anticelebrity in the press at the same time. I took his good advice. Frankly, Churchill should take that advice. After all, why in the world would he WANT to be reinstated at an institution that looked upon him with utter disdain? Wouldn't that be shameful? Then again, does a man who can call 9-11 victims "little Eichmanns" have any sense of shame. Even I, a neo-Nazi to the core, find his remarks completely insulting to the innocent victims of a politically foul terrrorist act. Dr. Jacques Reinhard Heydrich Pluss, Leader, The New American National Socialist Party, ANNP, and Independent Scholar.

Jeremy Young - 4/3/2009

Underqualified and extremist are one thing. Plagiarism is another. Making someone a policeman before he's completed his training is one thing; making him a policeman after he's committed murder is another.

Churchill should have been fired for the plagiarism alone, whatever his other virtues.