One of our readers sent us an article in Front Page Magazine yesterday by Ann Coulter in which she stated:
Just because we don’t have bright lines for determining what speech can constitute a firing offense, doesn’t mean there are no lines at all. If [Ward] Churchill hasn’t crossed them, we are admitting that almost nothing will debase and disgrace the office of professor….
Keep in mind, however, that Coulter faced similar backlash for her own “misunderstood” (and constitutionally protected) expression about the September 11 tragedy. On September 14, 2001, Coulter wrote in Town Hall:
Airports scrupulously apply the same laughably ineffective airport harassment to Suzy Chapstick as to Muslim hijackers. It is preposterous to assume every passenger is a potential crazed homicidal maniac. We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now.
We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.
Criticized for her comments (which I find extremely offensive), as the Washington Post reported on October 2, 2001, “Coulter says her line about ‘convert them to Christianity’ has been misconstrued and was aimed at those celebrating the attacks. ‘I wasn’t talking about Muslims generally,’ she says. ‘I was talking about the crazed homicidal maniacs dancing in the streets.’”
Both Coulter and Churchill compared elements of the September 11 attacks to Nazi Germany. Both of them claimed that their expression was misinterpreted. Both of them seriously offended a lot of people. Yet Coulter is calling for Churchill to be fired for crossing the line with his expression.
The irony of this situation speaks for itself—and clearly demonstrates how such double standards cannot be allowed to trump equal rights to free speech.
Schools: University of Colorado at Boulder