Thomas Brown, Ward Churchill and prison time for "research misconduct"
Posted to www.marxmail.org on July
For anybody following the Ward Churchill witch-hunt, the
name Thomas Brown should ring a bell. This is a professor from
In my view, Churchill made this mistake because of a
predisposition to see the genocide against the Indians in the light of the German
genocide against the Jews, which did involve systematic murder. Although army
raids did cost the lives of many tens of thousands of Indians, most died
because of diseases that they had no resistance to or from the effects of
stealing their land and killing their game. Apologists for the American
genocide state that this lets the
Brown pops up on the comments pages at Inside Higher Education whenever an article appears about Ward Churchill. This is an online publication that was launched by editors and reporters at Chronicle of Higher Education, a print publication that has much more clout than the upstart Inside Higher Education. Both publications hew to a careful "balanced" approach which amounts to printing articles pro and con about Ward Churchill.
However, some of the articles are harder to define in this
fashion, especially Jon Wiener's "A Lesson From
the Churchill Inquiry," that appears in the June 30 edition (http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/06/30/wiener).
Wiener is a Nation Magazine contributor who has written about the culture wars
in the academy, John Lennon and lots of other subjects from a generally
progressive standpoint. In this article, he goes out of his
way in an unseemly fashion to praise the investigating committee at the
"Ward Churchill should be fired for academic misconduct
-- that’s the decision made by the interim chancellor at the
I posted a brief reply to Wiener shortly after his article appeared:
"I think the usually astute Jon Wiener is missing the
point. It would have backfired if the investigating committee had been composed
entirely of yahoos from the
A day later Thomas Brown chimed in:
"Does the fact that other academics found guilty of misconduct have received lesser sanctions automatically mean that Churchill’s sacking is inappropriate? Not at all.
"Take the time to read the CU investigative committee’s report on Churchill. They researched the sanctions given to offenders such as Churchill, and found that sacking is a common outcome. A perpetrator who is caught in one offense and who repents may escape firing. But a repeat offender such as Churchill--who is also loudly proclaiming that he did nothing wrong and that he intends to keep on doing what he’s doing--can expect to be dismissed.
"Just this week, a UNC-Chapel Hill professor was given a year in prison for research misconduct. Churchill should consider himself lucky that he’s only getting fired.
"As to the political context of the situation, I think that Prof. Eckstein put it rather succinctly. Live by it, die by it."
(The Eckstein referred to above, by the way, is as obsessed
with Ward Churchill as Thomas Brown. He is a
Although the comments editor at Inside Higher Education was
beneficent enough to allow one of my comments to appear on their august
publication's website, two have not been forwarded. Since I have a reputation
for being something of an ill-mannered lout, let me assure you that my comments
were beyond reproach in keeping with the faculty club atmosphere of Inside
Higher Education. In fact, compared to a number of the anonymous rightwing ranters who haunt the comments section of Inside Higher
Education, I would come across as St. Francis of
Since the comments editor has seen fit to exclude my latest comment, I am repeating here on these mailing lists and my own blog:
In his comments on Ward Churchill, Thomas Brown states, "Just this week, a UNC-Chapel Hill professor was given a year in prison for research misconduct. Churchill should consider himself lucky that he’s only getting fired."
My eyebrows went up when I read this. When the hell did professors start going to jail for "research misconduct"? I spent an hour on Lexis-Nexis and Google News trying to find evidence of such a thing, but could not turn up a thing. The plain fact is that there is no such crime as "research misconduct". People go to jail for car theft, battery, bank robbery, etc.--not for improper citations or plagiarism.
Of course, if people like Thomas Brown, Art Eckstein and
David Horowitz had their way, people would go to jail for "false"
beliefs just the way that they did in the 1950s. Perhaps Brown was confused by
his own call for jailing Churchill on the charge of perjury. Brown raised this
question after Churchill referred to the
At any rate, if Brown or anybody else could provide the
documentation for professors at the