As faculty of the University of Colorado, we
share in the sadness and anger occasioned by Ward Churchill's
article about September11th. We are also heartened to see
so much speech that honors those who were killed and that condemns
those who were responsible for the attacks. This sort of
counter-speech is often the gift of the speech that we abhor.
Knowing the frailties of human beings all too well, the framers
of our Constitution denied the government the right to limit
freedom of speech and trusted citizens to think for themselves.
As professors, we also trust CU students to respond to ideas
on their own merits. Over time, academic freedom has come to
join freedom of speech, press, assembly and religion as an
essential component of constitutional liberty. As the Supreme
Court noted in Keyishian v. Board of Regents (1967), "Our
Nation is deeply committed to safeguarding academic freedom,
which is of transcendent value to all of us and not merely
to the teachers concerned. That freedom is therefore a special
concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws
that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom."
While a law abridging speech is not at issue with respect
to Professor Churchill, academic freedom and freedom of political
speech more generally certainly are at stake. In particular,
the proposal made to review all departments and curricula at
CU is one that must be rejected as incompatible with academic
freedom, as are all efforts to terminate
Churchill's employment on the basis of the political content of his remarks.
While we feel deeply offended by Professor. Churchill's comments and regret
the pain they have caused, as a matter of principle we must stand by his right
to make them.
Board of Directors, Keller Center for the Study of the First
Prof. David Mapel, Political Science
Prof. Vanessa Baird, Political Science
Prof. Horst Mewes, Political Science
Prof. Karen Tracy, Communication
Prof. Gerard Hauser, Communication