Several media outlets, including FoxNews and the Washington Times, are this week using the obscure Ward Churchill controversy to spur discussion of right-wing legislation that would prohibit professors from discussing “controversial material unrelated to [their] class.” [Update: NY Sun is in on the mix.] Check tomorrow’s Progress Report for more on the legislation — for now, consider this:
On one hand, you have Ward Churchill, the college professor who tried to morally justify the Sept. 11 attacks. Since his writings were given national attention last week, Churchill has received pariah treatment in the press, and his incendiary comments were widely condemned by academics and commentators of all political stripes.
On the other hand, there’s Jerry Falwell, who also tried to morally justify the 9/11 attacks. On Sept. 13, he said “pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America” had “helped this happen.” Falwell now frequently provides political analysis for mainstream media outlets, and regularly hosts a television program on CNN.
What’s more, consider how conservatives and progressives have reacted to these two ideologues. Self-described “anti-government” conservatives support a bill which, as mentioned, would have state officials prohibit teachers from discussing certain “controversial materials.” And how do many progressives suggest we deal with the media imbalance? The reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, which specifically requires licensees to “cover vitally important controversial issues of interest in their communities” and “provide a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints.”