My letter to the editor made it into the New York Sun today:

Your article on Columbia professor Nicholas De Genova’s expressed wish for a “million Mogadishus” in Iraq has various university figures congratulating themselves on Columbia’s respect for the First Amendment and freedom of speech [“Professor Is Condemned for Speech, But Likely Will Keep Post at Columbia,” Julie Satow, page 2, March 31, 2003]. Yet the freedom of speech includes the freedom to boycott; it does not require anyone to provide support for anyone else’s ideas. Firing Mr. De Genova would not be a violation of the freedom of speech but an expression of it.

“Academic freedom,” on the other hand, is the pseudo-right of tenured professors to be as irresponsible as they wish without accountability to anyone. Mr. De Genova’s case is merely one result of our universities’ stated policy of refusing to act against intellectual malpractice within their ranks. This policy explains why our universities have largely become factories of dishonest and destructive ideas. They will remain so until the American public wakes up and stops supporting its destroyers.

Paul Blair

The Sun also runs a follow-up:

Columbia University students arriving yesterday at a Latin history class taught by professor Nicholas De Genova were told the instructor feared for his life and had left the campus. “He has been receiving thousands of death messages,” one of the professor’s three graduate students told the undergrads….In [his talk at the anti-war “teach-in”], Mr. De Genova said patriotism was “inseparable” from white supremacy and said that “the only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military.” [New York Sun, 4/2/03]
Needless to say, death threats are a violation of the freedom of speech. But of those “thousands” of alleged death threats, how many are just people legitimately expressing anger? Have there been any actual death threats? I wouldn’t believe it just because some grad student said it, particularly since the claim coincides with the professor’s propagandistic interests.

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