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Jury rules that Ward Churchill was wrongfully fired

DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy EaterRight behind you...Registered User regular
edited April 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
DENVER — A jury ruled Thursday that Ward L. Churchill, a former University of Colorado professor who drew national attention for an essay in which he called some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks “little Eichmanns,” was wrongfully terminated.

The jury found that his political views were a “substantial or motivating” factor in his dismissal, and that the university had not shown that he would have been dismissed anyway.

But the jury, which deliberated for a day and a half, awarded Mr. Churchill only $1 in damages.

The judge in the case, Larry J. Naves, is to determine later whether Mr. Churchill should be reinstated to his job teaching ethnic studies at the university’s Boulder campus. A reinstatement would likely draw a sharply negative reaction among many on the faculty, since a faculty committee was instrumental in his firing.

The judge ordered the packed courtroom to be silent as the verdict was read. Afterward, Mr. Churchill slipped on a pair of sunglasses and spoke to reporters outside the courtroom.

“I didn’t ask for money, I asked for justice,” Mr. Churchill said when asked about the $1 award, adding that he expected to get his job back because the jury had found he was dismissed for political reasons. “Reinstatement follows rather naturally, wouldn’t you say?”

Ken McConnellogue, a spokesman for the university, said that the $1 award was “some vindication” and that the university would oppose any reinstatement. Noting that the faculty committee had determined that Mr. Churchill had an “ongoing pattern” of academic misconduct, he said: “What happened with the jury’s verdict doesn’t change that at all.”

The university had said that Mr. Churchill plagiarized and falsified parts of his academic research, particularly on American Indians, and cited this as grounds for his dismissal in July 2007. Mr. Churchill brought a wrongful termination suit against the university, seeking monetary damages for lost wages and harm to his reputation. He also wanted to be reinstated.


So, there's the basics of the story. I remember reading Churchill's essay, "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens", when it was published and was causing something of a stir because of the Eichmann reference. Churchill is also one of those radical left people that the right tried to hold up as one of the left's leaders last year along with Bill Ayers.

The primary case here was an issue of freedom of speech. The university contended that he was fired for plagiarism and falsifying parts of his research. Churchill contends that he was fired for expressing his political beliefs. Some, including the New York Times, have gone so far as to call Churchill's essays hate speech, but at the same time the case brings up the point about whether such hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. It also brings up the question of academic integrity, for which Churchill has been questioned, versus freedom of speech.

Dalboz on


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    LitejediLitejedi New York CityRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Two things stand out in my mind about this:

    1) Ward Churchill is a slimy, plagarizing, lying douche. He's stolen art, academic work and even lied about his heritage.
    2) The only reason people found out about this is because Owens and the other Republican choads in the state capitol started a witch hunt over an essay that hurt their feelings.

    He shouldn't have been fired over 2), but he should have been fired long ago for 1).

    Litejedi on
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    OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I actually laughed out loud at the jury awarding him $1. If that isn't a "you're-technically-right-here-but-fuck-you-anyway" I don't know what is.

    OremLK on
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    HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    OremLK wrote: »
    I actually laughed out loud at the jury awarding him $1. If that isn't a "you're-technically-right-here-but-fuck-you-anyway" I don't know what is.

    I wonder how much his total court costs were.

    Hachface on
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    StericaSterica Yes Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited April 2009
    I wouldn't go as far as to say "hate speech", but it is dickish and displays a lack of respect for the dead. And we can always invoke Godwin.

    Nice resolution, I'll say.

    Sterica on
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    VariableVariable Mouth Congress Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I like it. It's probably not a good thing to have going on though.

    Variable on
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