August 9, 2005
Joanne Jacobs notes a serious distortion in a New York Times op-ed on autism, which uses the issue of sex-based brain differences in order to take an off-topic and inaccurate shot at Harvard president Lawrence Summers. Joanne notes that when she was an editor, she would have prevented such things from going into print.
Here's another outrageous editorial oversight. In an article on the Higher Education Act, yesterday's Boston Globe reported that the University of Colorado fired Ward Churchill for making incendiary comments about 9/11: "Earlier this year, Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., reneged on a speaking invitation to University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill because he had published an article blaming America for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and comparing the victims to Nazis. The University of Colorado fired Churchill for his comments." As anyone who has been paying any attention to events in higher education knows, Churchill is still working at the University of Colorado, where he is presently being investigated for academic fraud. The University of Colorado correctly decided last spring that Churchill's speech was fully protected by the First Amendment and that it should not attempt to sanction or discipline him for his speech.
Where are the fact checkers?
If Simon Baron-Cohen is describing his research accurately, we have massive problems:
- Trying to classify brains based on psychological surveys
- Assuming that the survey results for parents of children with autism wouldn't be affected by their care of their children
- Speculative claims of assortative mating without any evidence and largely ignoring huge areas of literature on dating and mate choices
In the 1960s, one pop-psych explanation of autism was that it resulted from so-called refrigerator moms who turned their kids autistic. At first glance, this appears to be a parallel argument dressed up in jargon.
The media gets it wrong in many cases, so I guess it's not surprising that they get it wrong in these cases, too.
Unfortunately, I think that in trying to dispel a perceived misconception about Ward Churchill's First Amendment rights, Erin gets some points wrong herself. I have a fuller explanation here.
"The University of Colorado correctly decided last spring that Churchill's speech was fully protected"
Control yourself already...."correctly" ruled? Give me a break, this guy is a left-wing radical whose views are highly prejudicial and inflammatory. I can tell the left wing nuts gladly circle this website.
"Give me a break, this guy is a left-wing radical whose views are highly prejudicial and inflammatory."
Yes, and he's an asshole, too. But so what? The First Amendment protects your right to engage in asinine, prejudicial and inflammatory speech. Churchill is rightly being investigated for fraud, and will hopefully be fired for that.
"I can tell the left wing nuts gladly circle this website."
I worked as an attorney for the Florida House of Representatives for three years. If I qualify as a left wing nut in your mind, then you'd have to be out in space somewhere to the right of Michael Savage. Yet I fail to see how Churchill's remark, stupid and evil though they were, were not protected speech.