Sunday, December 30, 2007
On Zionism and its critics:
“Whereas some organizations and individuals have urged that faculty, writers and speakers who criticize Zionism and Israeli policies be denied tenure, disinvited to speak, speak only when “balanced” by a pro-Zionist speaker, or be fraudulently called “anti-Semitic”; and
Whereas this constitutes a serious danger to academic study and discussion in the USA today,
Resolved that the MLA defend the Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech of faculty and invited speakers to criticize Zionism and Israel.”
On Ward Churchill:
“Whereas, upon criticism of Professor Ward Churchill for his remarks concerning the 9/11 attacks, the University of Colorado initiated proceedings against him, and investigations of his scholarly work, and removed him from his directorship of the Ethnic Studies Dept. and subsequently from his tenured teaching position, and
Whereas such acts of retribution threaten free expression in the university setting, particularly against those in historically marginalized disciplines,
Be it resolved that the Modern Language Association condemns this action of the President and Regents of the University of Colorado.”
That the radical “Sue” would rally to the support of Ward Churchill is not surprising. Nor is the anti-Israel bias of a long standing member of the PSC’s New Caucus and Executive Board. But O’Malley’s asymmetric approach to issues of free speech is astonishing. While her attorney is filing a full civil complaint for libel and defamation in New York, she is running through the corridors at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency and shouting that academic freedom is in jeopardy! Not bad for someone who, supposedly, has been sorely wounded by Sharad’s virtual slings and arrows. We marvel at her recuperative powers, or perhaps at her hubris.
Among the voices heard in these exchanges was that of our favorite defender of free speech, Prof. "Sue," who also happens to be the Executive Director of the MLA's Radical Caucus. “Susan O’Malley, a professor of English at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, said that CUNY’s trustees tried to prevent an adjunct at her campus from teaching the novel The Scar of David. CUNY officials could not be reached for comment, but press accounts suggest that the book was in fact taught.”
As by all other reports it seemed to have been. Since O’Malley is such a stickler for facts, and so willing to file libel suits against her critics, her comments in Chicago are particularly odd. Was she making a mistake when representing events at Kingsborough? If so, she owes the unnamed members of CUNY’s Board of Trustees an apology. Or was she continuing her personal, and the PSC’s political, feud with Trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld? If so, perhaps Mr. Wiesenfeld might want to consider legal action against her.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Given her public commitments to free speech and freedom of the press, we wonder how soon it will be before Bowen threatens The Jewish Press with an O’Malley-style lawsuit.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Or, perhaps not. As the January, 2008 issue of the union’s house organ, the Clarion reports, the PSC has brought suit in federal court against the CUNY regarding use of the e-mail system at La Guardia Community College for union business; a grievance and a complaint to New York’s Public Employment Relations Board have also been filed. At issue is CUNY’s "Policy on Acceptable Use of Computer Resources." The university argues that the union’s access to campus e-mail must be dealt with as part of the collective bargaining system; the union insists that its First Amendment rights have been abrogated.
To what degree the recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board that employers can prohibit workers from using e-mail systems to send out union-related messages will influence either the grievance process or the PERB is unclear. But we doubt that Bowen will get very far with her First Amendment violation federal lawsuit. As they have in the past, the leaders of the PSC are staging a stunt in hope of whipping up support from their members. And, we suspect, of directing attention away from Susan O’Malley, who still serves on the Executive Board as a Community College Officer. We wish “Sue” all the best in what may well be many, many days in court.
At this point, it is not clear that O’Malley will be “Sue”-ing those who voted against her for libel and defamation.
“Taking a page out of Khartoum’s playbook, PSC leader O’Malley, notorious for trying to censor The Patriot Returns, has now filed a lawsuit charging her most outspoken critic with libel and defamation to scare him and any other would-be dissenters into silence, in order to distract attention from the fraud, abuse and incompetence of the PSC leadership. The PSC, also notorious for shutting down forums for free speech when they became too critical, now wants to hide damaging disclosures before the upcoming elections for some union stalwarts. It was initially reported in the New York Sun that the PSC failed to deliver a decent contract and they squandered the member’s welfare fund by the sum of 97% on political causes and contributions to the legal funds of terrorists. Now O’Malley, former chair of the University Faculty Senate (UFS), who sits on the PSC executive board, is running for election for the Kingsborough Community College seat on the UFS in the next two weeks. Trying desperately to duck bad press and avoid the glare of the media spotlight, she has maintained a low profile saying nothing about the lawsuit except that it is “very, very silly” in an interview with New York Sun reporter, Annie Karni….
The PSC and UFS leadership has utterly misjudged Karkhanis’ character. Instead of groveling to the whims of an elitist PSC regime and pleading for forgiveness, as they must have surmised, he has determined to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court. He will fight forever for his First Amendment right to dissent, to criticize and satirize in written expression, and so will I, as well as many other friends and unsolicited defenders of free speech and freedom of the press.
It remains to be seen whether or not the PSC will follow in the footsteps of their Sudanese cohorts and grant a pardon to Karkhanis and retract this “silly” lawsuit or continue routine illegal activities defrauding the dues paying members, in this case funneling the union dues to pay for Susan O’Malley’s lawyers in a protracted highly visible court case. This private legal affair, which will be under the lens of severe scrutiny, is not a PSC or UFS case and any CUNY union funds used for O’Malley’s frivolous libel suit to censor free speech will be brought to light.
The PSC leadership has erred by not taking the time to research the political and literary background of Dr. Karkhanis. Examination of his background would have revealed a long distinguished career championing the inviolable rights of freedom of speech and conscience and especially fighting for freedom of the press in his native land, India. He published a book, Indian Politics and the Role of the Press highly critical of Mrs. Indira Gandhi's emergency regime, which censored the press. In a repressive environment he dared to challenge the ruling establishment, admonishing India’s Prime Minister that “press censorship was resented all over the world” and despite deteriorating social conditions as the justification for invoking emergency rule, defending freedom of the press is vital for safeguarding democratic institutions. But instead of meeting with a hostile reaction or punishment, Karkhanis’s remonstration was amicably received in a candid meeting with Mrs.Gandhi. Why should we expect anything less critical from him as a professor at CUNY with respect to the censorship and fraud of the PSC?”
Saturday, December 1, 2007
For instance, she did advocate the retention of Mohamed Yousry as a CUNY adjunct. And Mohamed Yousry was convicted in a Manhattan federal court of providing material aid to terrorism and conspiring to deceive the government.
O'Malley's defense appears to be that Yousry wasn't a "terrorist," and therefore suggesting that she supported the hiring of terrorists is defamatory.
Is Sue, then, going to sue Daniel Pipes? After all, in a 2005 blog posting, Pipes termed Yousry a "terrorist prof."
We're guessing, however, that Pipes is safe from "very, very silly" O'Malley lawsuits. Why? Because he's not a former CUNY professor who has led the charge against Barbara Bowen and the current leadership of the PSC. So "Sue" has little to gain politically from "suing" him.
Friday, November 30, 2007
For instance, she did advocate the hiring of Susan Rosenberg as a CUNY adjunct. And Susan Rosenberg was a former member of the Weathermen Underground. And Susan Rosenberg was convicted of armed robbery in a crime that left two policemen dead.
O'Malley's defense appears to be that Rosenberg wasn't a "terrorist," and therefore suggesting that she supported the hiring of terrorists is defamatory.
Is Sue, then, going to sue Roger Kimball? After all, in a 2004 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Kimball was quite blunt in deeming Rosenberg a terrorist.
We're guessing, however, that Kimball is safe from "very, very silly" lawsuits. Why? Because he's not a former CUNY professor who has led the charge against Barbara Bowen and the current leadership of the PSC. So "Sue" has little to gain politically from "suing" him.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
But in the wake of the recent Board of Trustees brouhaha, the temptation to join the pack and pile on Jeffrey Wiesenfeld has been just too much for University Faculty Senate executive committee member ex-officio O’Malley. Under this moniker, she has invited CUNY faculty to peruse the website for Stop The Madrassa and informed them that Wiesenfeld is active on their New York metropolitan and national advisory boards.
As such, Wiesenfeld appears to be guilty by association of the heinous crime of “lack of respect for Muslims,” since Stop the Madrassa has objected to a new public school dedicated to teaching Arabic history, teaching and language.
Unless we’ve been misinformed, Trustee Wiesenfeld has the same right to speak against the use of public monies for such a school as ex-Trustee O’Malley has to solicit a job at CUNY for Mohammed Yousry. O’Malley may decide that Wiesenfeld and his politics are obnoxious; he may deem her to be a numbskull. But both are public figures, and fair game for criticisms (and witticisms) protected by the First Amendment. It is a pity that only one of them appears to understand this.
Perhaps when she has had her day in court, Prof. “Sue” will consider taking a remedial course on the Constitution at Kingsborough Community College.
Pray tell, Professor Philipp: would a $2,000,000 lawsuit against a colleague also count as an attempt to suppress free speech?
True, you’ve stated that you “will decline to exercise any so-called right to cry libel” when you hear testimony that you might disagree with. Fine.
But will you, along with your tax and tuition-supported Executive Committee, cease offering covert support for “Sue” O’Malley’s claims to do otherwise?
That Crain, whom Sharad Karkhanis once dubbed the "the Mahatma Gandhi" of the Professional Staff Congress, should so complain is hardly noteworthy. Indeed, he seems to do little else. What was of interest was the response of University Trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, the most steadfast voice for sanity and accountability at CUNY. Weisenfeld rebutted the charges, and in response to a demand that Crain be allowed the opportunity to respond, replied that “libel doesn’t deserve a response.”
This was too much for Bill and the New Caucus claque on hand, including Barbara Bowen. Crain proclaimed that it was unbecoming of a board member to accuse a faculty member of libel, and demanded an apology. To date, one has not been forthcoming.
However, why it is not suitable for Trustee Wiesenfeld to suggest that Professor Crain’s remarks amounted to libel, but it is OK for ex-Trustee O’Malley to sue Emeritus Professor Karkhanis for publishing matters of fact is beyond our ken. In between their stints at saving the university from higher standards, perhaps Bill Crain and Barbara Bowen can help all of us understand.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
November 21, 2007
Sharad Karkhanis Stands on the Moral High Ground
The vast majority of Americans don’t want convicted terrorists or terrorist sympathizers teaching their kids. But a City University of New York faculty union leader, Susan O’Malley is suing Dr. Sharad Karkhanis, CUNY professor emeritus, for criticizing her for being obsessed with “finding jobs for terrorists” at CUNY. However, she is surely not the only one “recruiting terrorists” on campus. CUNY faculty and Professional Staff Congress (PSC) leaders besides O’Malley have been defending convicted terrorists’ right to teach and donating to their legal funds using the members’ union dues for these and numerous other political causes. Now, CUNY professor Francis Fox Piven, from the New Caucus of the PSC, has stepped up to defend South African scholar Adam Habib who was accused of engaging in a terrorist activity and barred from entering the United States by the State Department. Professor Piven said “(w)e think this is a clear violation of academic freedom” and invited him to him to speak at the American Sociological Association's annual conference, saying “(h)e would be much in demand” at a number of CUNY campuses.
Sharad Karkhanis will not be silenced. He continues to speak out with a louder voice than ever and will fight to uphold his constitutional rights that are now in jeopardy. Fortunately in America we have the First Amendment right to criticize, satirize and dissent, as he has done with great verve in The Patriot Returns, blasting such preposterous appeals to bring convicted terrorists into the classroom. Defenders of the free speech rights of Karkhanis maintain that the lawsuit is a frivolous one, since O’Malley, one of the targets of Karkhanis’ political satire, was merely offended, as I have argued. The lawsuit has no constitutional basis since there is no law in the United States against being offended. Numerous blogs and articles in support of Karkhanis have been pouring in to the Free Speech at CUNY weblog expressing outrage at the academic elites who seek to silence all criticism and crush dissenting points of view. Professor Mitchell Langbert has been blogging up a storm as well. He brought up some interesting points about the incongruity of lawsuits and collegiality challenging PSC President Barbara Bowen to answer whether she believes it is within the bounds of collegiality for colleagues to sue one another.
While searching for a definition for “collegiality” I found an article that resonates with Langbert’s contention. Dr. Nicholas T. Kouchoukos, past president of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, laments the disappearance of collegiality from his field. He defines collegiality as “respect for one's colleagues and for their professional endeavors,” and citing a case in point of its loss, he revealed professionals within the same specialty slugging it out in malpractice suits in court. One seems to find rotten apples in every barrel.
President Bowen never answered Langbert’s question, however he did get a very telling response from a defender of O’Malley, a CUNY Professor named David Arnow, who is on the Brooklyn College PSC executive committee and has been a member of the University Faculty Senate (UFS):
Defenders of Karkhanis just don't have the moral high ground to invoke 'collegiality'. As for law suits: for all its faults, the U.S. system of law towers over that of any other country I know. Law suits that redress wrongs are part of that system. If there really is a wrong, it ought to be redressed, shouldn't it? How would you right a wrong? Fisticuffs?
I don't know the details of Libel law, but I know that it is happily fairly limited, compared say to the U.K., and so the absurd lies you spin for the Sun are protected-- as they should be. Still, repeated false public accusations of specific criminal acts might satisfy the definition of libel. Your buddy may have crossed the line. Not to worry, I'm sure that the people you and he work for have very deep pockets.
Now, answer the questions that I posed below. Don't try to wriggle out of them: My first question for you is: Have you stopped molesting small children yet? And my second question is: Supposed I posed this question everywhere. Would you sue? Or would you take it in the collegial, satirical sense that it was perhaps intended?
Aside from innuendo, hypothetical molestation conundrums, and the lecture on libel law, it’s the first sentence that is so stunning in its pomposity that I need to address. The mention of the “moral high ground” betrays the elitism and phony righteousness so symptomatic of the PSC leadership who think they are on a mission to save the world. But the moral high ground is held by neither leftwing nor rightwing ideologues, who claim to determine the truth for everyone. Rather, it’s the other way around: the majority of the people of America determine the moral high ground. These fringe ideologues who think they hold the monopoly on truth and are smarter than the rest of us, are the same academic elites who would sue and silence outspoken pests like Karkhanis rather than offering a “collegial” rebuttal or debate. After Langbert offered him an opportunity for intelligent debate on the issues with a series of challenging questions, Arnow, in typical elitist fashion, shut down all further discussion with the following response:
You can put my email anywhere you like, but the gibberish above again evades my questions about whether you've stopped molesting small children and I am not going to waste any more time writing to you. I'm adding you to my spam filter.
From the lofty perch of his claim to the moral high ground, Arnow must believe defenders of Karkhanis, whom he claims are on the moral low ground just don’t merit a response. But it’s the lowly professor Karkhanis and his defenders who speak for the majority of Americans who hold the moral high ground. These are the decent hard working people who pay a lot of money to send their kids to college. They don’t want their kids to be lectured by convicted terrorists. Weather Underground terrorist Susan Rosenberg, convicted terrorist conspirator Mohammad Yousry, Lynne Stewart, Sami Al-Arian, Lori Berenson, Adam Habib and their ilk shouldn’t be promoting their bloodstained ideology in the classroom. The majority of Americans are disgusted with an academic elite that crushes dissent and free speech. Americans who want colleges free from this vermin and who want to ensure free speech for Sharad Karkahnis, are the ones who are now rallying to his side.
Karkhanis speaks for the vast majority of Americans from within the cloistered walls of an elitist institution that silences dissenting points of view. He exposes the clandestine shenanigans of the CUNY faculty union, the PSC, for all Americans to read on the pages of The Patriot Returns and he will never be silenced. The majority of Americans are on his side. Sharad Karkhanis indeed stands on the moral high ground.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
“Thus, Free speech and academic freedom are indeed under siege in the West—not because of western government censorship but because Islamists like Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz either sue authors and publishers or influence intellectual points of view by funding academic Institutes, organizations, and conferences.”
While we have no proof of any connections between the Sheikh and CUNY’s Susan O’Malley, we are struck by the similarities between his efforts to stifle speech aimed at militant Islamists, and her attempt to silence Sharad Karkhanis’s coverage of faculty advocacy for Mohammed Yousry and company.
Might it be that Prof. “Sue” and Bin Mahfouz have been dancing sheikh to sheikh?
PS: Thanks to Candace de Russy at Phi Beta Cons for the links.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The Professional Staff Congress, CUNY's faculty union, has elected the "New Caucus", a group of left-wing extremists to its leadership. In his latest Patriot Returns, Sharad Karkhanis, who has been harassed with a law suit by "Sue" O'Malley, a member of the extremist group, takes the union to task. Karkhanis writes:
The concerns of Barbara Bowen and her fellow New Caucasians have never been limited to such issues as higher salaries, lower teaching loads, and better benefits, of course. These mundane matters often seem of secondary importance to larger political goals, such as ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and preventing one with Iran. Indeed, the Dear Leader was one of the featured speakers at United for Peace and Justice's October 27th march to Foley Square...
Karkhanis has a point, and once again, as always, serves a major public service through his newsletter. If New Caucus leader and union president Barbara Bowen expects to win Eliot Spitzer and his fellow Democrats over, might she not leave the attacks on the Democrats to Republicans? Bowen's combative approach has repeatedly failed. As a result, I have invited Randi Weingarten to commence a merger of her United Federation of Teachers with the Professional Staff Congress.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Our distinguished colleague’s comments are grounded on the principle that the free exchange of ideas, in this instance criticisms of American foreign policy, is central to academic life. This is a principle that all involved in the higher learning should endorse. Yet, to date, she has not made a public statement on the libel case filed by Prof. “Sue.” Are Habib’s rights to free speech somehow different than those of Karkhanis? Are the privileges of academic freedom to be granted only to right thinking (and left-leaning) figures like Habib, Lynne Stewart, Mohammed Yousry and Susan Rosenberg?
We’d welcome Distinguished Professor Piven’s support.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Friends of Sharad, free speech at CUNY , and the First Amendment will be eager to see that complaint.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Lest anyone assume that Emeritus Professor Sharad Karkhanis has pulled his comments from thin air, the records of CUNY’s University Faculty Senate provide ample evidence to the contrary. At the April 5, 2005 plenary session of the UFS, chaired by Professor “Sue” O’Malley, the following resolution was passed:
“Statement on Recent Violations of Academic Freedom & Due Process
The University Faculty Senate of the City University of New York, committed to the First Amendment, in accordance with the AAUP definition of academic freedom, and to the belief that people are entitled to the State presumption of innocence, expresses its concern over local violations of personal and academic freedom that have resulted from political pressure in the current climate of fear.
We deplore the denial of due process for adjuncts in two recent cases, which in effect denies them academic freedom:
We deplore the decision by the Central Administration of CUNY to remove Mohammed Yousry in April 2002 from his post as an adjunct in Political Science at
We deplore the exclusion of Susan Rosenberg from any further teaching at John Jay College of Criminal Justice as a result of a decision in December 2004 by President Jeremy Travis in response to complaints by a police fraternal organization and without appropriate faculty consultation. President Travis offered no academic grounds for the exclusion, and his decision compromises the long-held academic tradition of faculty self-governance in selecting who shall teach and what shall be taught.
Similarly, we deplore the actions of School Chancellor Joel Klein in removing Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi on February 15, 2005, from continuing to participate in faculty development workshops on the Middle East for high school teachers following political attacks on his person and his scholarship in the NY press, and we commend Columbia President Lee Bollinger for his support of Professor Khalidi's academic freedom.
We draw the attention of trustees and administrators to the observation by Professor Morris Raphael Cohen in 1940, following the dismissal of Bertrand Russell from
It is inexcusable that 65 years later we have to ask the same question.”
At the time, O’Malley was serving as both chair of the Executive Committee and the entire UFS. In those capacities, she oversaw the drafting and passage of the resolution. She was also a sitting member of the Executive Council of the Professional Staff Congress. Since O’Malley and her radical colleagues took control of two of the most powerful institutions within the City University of New York, they’ve raised the cris de coeur that “academic freedom” was being violated when they’ve failed to have their way. Their understanding of the First Amendment protections is rather partisan, to say the least.
As the details of the UFS and PSC reign of errors come to more light in the course of Prof. “Sue’s” lawsuit, we hope those paying for CUNY (tuition payers and the tax paying public alike) will insist on accountability from its the trustees and administrators. At the least, they should insist that extremists like O’Malley and Bowen not receive subsidies in the form of released time for their political antics. These weird sisters should, of course, be as free as Sharad Karkhanis to pronounce and publish what they’d like. But why should it be on the public’s dime and time?
Here We Go Again- More Education Unions against America
...More info on how American unions are seeking to destroy Us thru our education system.
"The faculty union of the City University of New York known as the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) has a penchant for aiding and abetting terrorists and supporting political causes with the member’s dues. Now determined to forever silence all criticism, one of the prominent union big wigs has just filed a $2 million lawsuit to shut down the one remaining gadfly, Dr. Sharad Karkhanis Professor Emeritus from Kingsborough Community College who has been tirelessly exposing the malfeasance of the PSC and the incompetence of its leaders in his influential internet newsletter The Patriot Returns."
"The subject of much of TPR’s biting satire is aimed at the union’s excessive promotion of a one-sided political agenda instead of winning better contracts for the members. TPR has carefully documented the PSC leadership’s pursuit of revolution instead of their jobs, elaborating on their campaigns to devote more time and resources to future global crusades. This includes such activities as mobilizing the membership to protest the Republican Party at the Republican National Convention in New York. Additionally, the PSC has passed a resolution sympathizing with Hugo Chavez, sponsored a conference called Educators to Stop the War, calling for teachers to develop an anti-war curriculum. The PSC leadership has organized and funded New York City Labor Against the War and Labor for Palestine, donated $5000 to support the legal defense of Lori Berenson, in prison for helping Peruvian Marxist terrorists, and donated thousands to the defense of Sami Al-Arian convicted of conspiracy to aid terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad."
Read the entire article, and one will get a better understanding of how the unions that have taken over these colleges are intent on driving every student as far left as they can.
" Also past issues attacked O’Malley’s support for anti-religious Professor Timothy Shortell’s bid for chairmanship of the Sociology Department of Brooklyn College. He is noted for his claims that all religious people are “moral retards” and “an ugly, violent lot,” and statements, "Christians claim that theirs is faith based on love, but they'll just as soon kill you."
"As a free speech issue that rises above the plight of one poor professor in CUNY, who has paid his union dues for forty years and now frets over how to obtain the necessary legal funds to go to battle for his rights, it is an issue that threatens all concerned citizens and purveyors of opinions who write, blog and dissent in the free market of ideas in America."
As noted by some of the links, CUNY has had other problems with dissension in the ranks.
In an off-topic note, the subject of that link, K.C.Johnson has done so much for the cause of the Duke students charged by Nifong, at his Durham-in-Wonderland.blogspot.com
The articles and links document some scary going-ons with this union and the power it holds to destroy conservative facility and students. One needs to read all the links in the article to get the true feel of just how bad the situation is at the college.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
November 6, 2007 -- WHILE one CUNY professor was making a failed attempt to land jobs there for convicted radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, her co-defendant Mohammed Yousry and former Weather Underground member Susan Rosenberg, Marymount Manhattan College was inviting Dr. John Alexander to speak there tomorrow. The former Green Beret, a senior fellow with the Defense Department's Joint Special Operations University and the Army War College, has advised the highest levels of government on intelligence matters and was a mentor to the minister of defense in Afghanistan. Alexander just returned from Rwanda, where he and his wife, Victoria, were tracking silverback mountain gorillas.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Union Local Sues a Satirist "Brother"
The faculty union of the City University of New York known as the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) has a penchant for aiding and abetting terrorists and supporting political causes with the member’s dues. Now determined to forever silence all criticism, one of the prominent union big wigs has just filed a $2 million lawsuit to shut down the one remaining gadfly, Dr. Sharad Karkhanis Professor Emeritus from Kingsborough Community College who has been tirelessly exposing the malfeasance of the PSC and the incompetence of its leaders in his influential internet newsletter The Patriot Returns....Free Speech for Sharad, Phil Orenstein, Front Page Magazine, 11/9/2007
If you can't succeed in silencing a critic with shunning, threats, or denial of tenure, file a nuisance lawsuit. Dr. Karkhanis probably isn't surprised, but we should be disgusted by a faculty union representing people who claim to offer diverse viewpoints using legal action to silence a critic.
Name-calling may offend, but it never harms one’s life or limb, or sets fire to one’s home or property. Criticism may hurt someone’s feelings, but cannot injure one’s reputation. O’Malley has caused more damage to her reputation [as a union leader] by suing a distinguished retired professor for criticism, than the criticism itself has wrought....(Free Speech for Sharad, continued...)
Indeed...if you'd like to read what has caused such outrage, and cost so much lawyer time, at the CUNY Union Local, click her for Dr. Karkhanis's The Patriot Returns
At Democracy Project, Phil Orenstein bitingly takes up the cause of Sharad Karkhanis, a professor emeritus at Kingsborough Community College, who (as I’ve noted) has recently been sued for libel by a longtime union leader. In his online newsletter, The Patriot Returns (TPR), Karkhanis has ceaselessly written of alleged malfeasance and incompetence on the part of the faculty union of the City University of New York, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC). Orenstein claims the litigant, Professor Susan O’Malley, has “determined to forever silence all criticism … to shut down the one remaining gadfly.”
Felicitations to Orenstein for drawing scrutiny to the PSC’s execrable record. He traces its record of “pursuing revolution,” “aiding and abetting terrorists,” and “supporting political causes with the member's dues … instead of winning better contracts for the members.”
Well, "Sue," what about those "goons and ginks and company finks, and deputy sheriffs who made the raids?" If unions maids of yore could stand up to them, surely you can handle a little satire, no?
Thursday, November 8, 2007
In order to win this lawsuit, this O'Malley broad is going to have to show that Lynne Stewart, et al., are not, in fact, terrorists, or have terrorist connections.
What's she going to say in court---that Lynne Stewart is a pure as the driven snow? Bulls***. Also remember that the level of proof in civil court is a "preponderance of the evidence," a very easy level to make by a Plaintiff.
If I had to bet, if this thing goes to court, the other professor will have his court costs paid by O'Malley.
O'Malley forgot that when you're in a snake pit, you're going to be bit by a snake. And she's hanging out in a snake pit of terrorists.
We politely suggest that Ex-Trustee O’Malley make sure that any outstanding parking tickets are paid, that she obey all rules of the road if and when driving, that she not jay walk, litter, spit on the street or commit any other possible misdemeanor. A boy in blue might well be keeping a watch on our Professor “Sue.”
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
More on the Libel Suit over ‘Terror’
“As I’ve previously noted, a CUNY professor, Susan O'Malley, has slapped a fat defamation lawsuit on professor emeritus Sharad Karkhanis.Karkhanis has chronicled what he calls O'Malley's “obsessive” exertions in trying to land jobs for convicted activist lawyer Lynne Stewart's co-defendant Mohammed Yousry and former Weather Underground member Susan Rosenberg. He wrote:
Has Queen O'Malley ever made a 'Job Wanted' announcement like this for a nonconvicted, nonviolent, peace-loving American educator for a job in CUNY? … Why does she prefer convicted terrorists bent on harming our people and our nation over peace-loving Americans?
Karkhanis maintains O'Malley went beyond the pale in trying to find a job for Yousry, who's out on bail pending appeal of his conviction for aiding Stewart in passing messages from 1993 World Trade Center bomb plotter Omar Abdel-Rahman. How does O'Malley respond? According to The New York Sun, she’s mum at the moment.”
Since it is autumn, of course, mums are in season.
November 7, 2007
The faculty union of the City University of New York known as the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) has a penchant for aiding and abetting terrorists and supporting political causes with the member’s dues. Now determined to forever silence all criticism, one of the prominent union big wigs has just filed a $2 million lawsuit to shut down the one remaining gadfly, Dr. Sharad Karkhanis Professor Emeritus from Kingsborough Community College who has been tirelessly exposing the malfeasance of the PSC and the incompetence of its leaders in his influential internet newsletter The Patriot Returns.
The subject of much of TPR’s biting satire is aimed at the union’s excessive promotion of a one-sided political agenda instead of winning better contracts for the members. TPR has carefully documented the PSC leadership’s pursuit of revolution instead of their jobs, elaborating on their campaigns to devote more time and resources to future global crusades. This includes such activities as mobilizing the membership to protest the Republican Party at the Republican National Convention in New York. Additionally, the PSC has passed a resolution sympathizing with Hugo Chavez, sponsored a conference called Educators to Stop the War, calling for teachers to develop an anti-war curriculum. The PSC leadership has organized and funded New York City Labor Against the War and Labor for Palestine, donated $5000 to support the legal defense of Lori Berenson, in prison for helping Peruvian Marxist terrorists, and donated thousands to the defense of Sami Al-Arian convicted of conspiracy to aid terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. According to TPR, the PSC even hosts an “International Committee” replete with a foreign policy spokesperson, who has issued public statements against economic and military aid to Israel and a statement condemning the war in Afghanistan, “joining in solidarity with the victims of U.S. military power,” namely the Taliban. The New York Sun, reported that while the leaders of the PSC have been running amok in politics, their union failed to deliver a new contract and in the past five years the member’s health and welfare fund reserves fell by 97% “with only a trickle of money remaining for faculty members' prescription drug, dental, and medical insurance plans.”
One of the union leaders, Professor Susan O’Malley, a member of the PSC executive committee, former chair of the University Faculty Senate and professor of English has been a regular target of Dr. Karkhanis’s irreverent discourse. Past issues of TPR have exposed O’Malley’s pleas to find a teaching position for convicted terrorist conspirator, Mohammad Yousry. TPR documented her protests against the firing of imprisoned Weather Underground terrorist Susan Rosenberg and her attempts to find Rosenberg a job at CUNY. Also past issues attacked O’Malley’s support for anti-religious Professor Timothy Shortell’s bid for chairmanship of the Sociology Department of Brooklyn College. He is noted for his claims that all religious people are “moral retards” and “an ugly, violent lot,” and statements, "Christians claim that theirs is faith based on love, but they'll just as soon kill you."
The legal claim focuses on several allegedly defamatory statements made in the March 12, 2007 issue of The Patriot Returns entitled: MOHAMMED ON HER MIND! Karkhanis wrote that O’Malley “is obsessed with finding jobs for terrorists and, in particular, for Mohammed Yousry” and “She does not worry about the "ordinary" adjunct ~ but she is worried about convicted terrorists!" and that “...she is recruiting naive, innocent members of the KCC faculty into her Queda-Camp, to infiltrate college and departmental Personnel and Budget Committees in her mission - to recruit terrorists in CUNY.” O’Malley’s lawyer claims that these and others are “false, damaging, and defamatory statements regarding Professor O'Malley” and that “(t)hey are intended to inflict harm through their falsehood. The statements were made to injure Professor O'Malley's reputation and to lower the opinion of her in the CUNY community.”
In a certified letter, O’Malley’s lawyer instructed Karkhanis “to retract the above defamatory statements immediately and to refrain from making any other defamatory statements.” However, Karkhanis is standing by every statement he has made saying that he would rather serve time in jail than retract his statements. He considers the lawsuit “an attempt to infringe on his freedom of speech” and views O’Malley as a public figure that he has a right to satirize and criticize.
TPR is an influential dissenting voice inside the CUNY community and functions as a check against the abuses of power of an omnipotent union that seeks to censor all criticism of the leadership. O’Malley who is on the “Editorial Collective” of the magazine Radical Teacher has earned the title from TPR, “The Queen of Released Time” for seeking union positions and political activities in order to be released from teaching assignments. The timing of this lawsuit is apparently calculated to benefit O’Malley and the union leaders by shutting down The Patriot Returns in anticipation of the coming campus chapter PSC elections and the 2008 university-wide union elections. A campus free of dissention from the pages of TPR would pave the way to PSC incumbent election victories.
Although this is a case of silencing political opposition, putting politics aside, all in all this is a not a partisan issue of left vs. right. It is not a money issue either, for what could a prominent union leader gain by suing a retired scholar with two cents to his name. As a free speech issue that rises above the plight of one poor professor in CUNY, who has paid his union dues for forty years and now frets over how to obtain the necessary legal funds to go to battle for his rights, it is an issue that threatens all concerned citizens and purveyors of opinions who write, blog and dissent in the free market of ideas in America. It is an issue that should concern both conservatives and liberals alike. The academic elites are clamping down on overly opinionated Americans, attempting to humble and scare voices of all political stripes into silence.
But the bottom line is that Karkhanis has simply offended Susan O’Malley. In today’s climate of reverse McCarthyism, anyone who is insensitive to a person’s feelings is labeled a fascist, racist, homophobe or Islamophobe. The elites have put the albatross of political correctness around our necks censoring offensive views, remarks, jokes and in this case Karkhanis’s political satire in TPR. O’Malley, a victim of nothing more than allegedly repugnant opinions, chose to terminate free speech with a lawsuit, rather than responding in kind and continuing the debate. But this is nothing new. For over a decade O’Malley and the union leadership have been ordering TPR to stop publication, and have successfully shut down all other forums for holding the union leaders accountable for their actions. But Karkhanis refuses to be silenced.
The United Federation Of Teachers (UFT), New York City’s largest teacher’s union was founded in the 1960’s in a less litigious climate than today. In those days, the union, frequently the target of dissention and vicious attacks against its leaders, contracts, and policy, settled their disputes on the delegate assembly floor, often with rancorous debate, name-calling and accusations, without resorting to censorship or lawsuits. The critics of Albert Shanker, president of the UFT, branded him with far worse epithets than being lambasted as a recruiter for terrorists. Shanker was vilified as a racist, militant extremist and depicted as becoming so power hungry that he was feared to be intent on destroying the planet if he got hold of a nuclear device which was the scenario presented in the Woody Allen movie Sleeper (1973). However, Shanker never took Woody Allen to court for public defamation and injuring his reputation with his irreverent humor.
Name-calling may offend, but it never harms one’s life or limb, or sets fire to one’s home or property. Criticism may hurt someone’s feelings, but cannot injure one’s reputation. O’Malley has caused more damage to her reputation by suing a distinguished retired professor for criticism, than the criticism itself has wrought.
Just as Albert Shanker, or any prominent figure in the spotlight, O’Malley is a union leader who is in the public arena. She is fair game for criticism of her actions and has to take the hits. In a democracy one is generally held directly accountable to those she serves. She has made some unwise and foolish decisions, like attempting to find teaching jobs for convicted terrorists. If she can’t take the heat and be accountable to dues paying members for her actions, she should go home and take up knitting, an enjoyable craft that will garner no antagonism or public criticism. No longer would she be the target of Dr. Karkhanis mocking satire on the pages of The Patriot Returns. If Professor Susan O’Malley would rather remain in the public arena, she should stand up and take it, lick her wounds and stop bellyaching. Instead of behaving like a sniveling child, she should offer a rebuttal to TPR’s accusations. However, when all's said and done, she should be very, very ashamed of herself and retract this frivolous lawsuit at once, which even she herself has deemed,“very, very silly.”
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
November 5, 2007
CUNY Defamation Suit as an Attack on Academic Freedom?
The intersection of academic freedom and defamation of another professor is a tricky area.
Take this case from last week's Inside Higher Ed:
No one could accuse Sharad Karkhanis of pulling his punches. The emeritus professor at Kingsborough Community College publishes The Patriot Returns, an online newsletter that critiques the leadership of the faculty union at the City University of New York. The overall thrust of the newsletter is that the Professional Staff Congress, which is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, is poorly run, focused too much on leftist politics to be effective on behalf of its members.
By carefully monitoring meeting minutes, newsletters, blogs and the like, Karkhanis acts as a self-appointed watchdog of the union. And he can bark. He mixes his analysis with choice nicknames. Barbara Bowen, the president of the union, is dubbed “Dear Leader,” after the North Korean dictator.
One of Karkhanis’s other favorite targets has been Susan O’Malley, a professor of English at Kingsborough and a member of the union’s executive board. The newsletter has dubbed her “The Queen of Released Time” for her ability to win time off from teaching for her union or Faculty Senate duties. O’Malley is now fighting back — she’s sued Karkhanis for $2 million, charging him with libel and defamation. To O’Malley, the issue is one of her damaged reputation. Given that faculty unions normally pride themselves on defending the right of dissenting professors — especially those who poke fun or criticize those in power — some professors see the lawsuit as an attack on academic freedom . . . .
Several CUNY faculty members who have been critical of their union have been blogging in defense of Karkhanis, arguing that his blog deserves First Amendment protection and suggesting that leaders of the union are nervous about the popularity of his newsletter, particularly given active opposition that came close to unseating the union leadership in the last election and that is expected to mount another challenge soon.
So stinging satire or a meritorious claim for damage to reputation? And where exactly does academic freedom start and libel begin? And finally, is O'Malley a "public figure," so malice has to be shown to support a defamation claim consistent with the First Amendment?
Sharad Karkhanis, professor emeritus at Kingsborough Community College, is a vitriolic critic of the faculty union at the City University of New York. He's accused Susan O'Malley, another professor at Kingsborough, of seeking to "recruit terrorists" to teach at CUNY. O'Malley has responded with a two million dollar libel suit, reports the New York Post.
Karkhanis considers his writing to be satire. It's not particularly civil language; but then again, as KC Johnson has pointed out, two of O'Malley's prospective hires were terrorists, or quite near to being ones - Susan Rosenberg "was a member of a terrorist organization" and Mohammed Yousry "was accused and convicted of aiding a convicted terrorist." Not all, predictably, agree on the substance of the comments: John K. Wilson, for one, has called them "idiotic" but he does dub the idea of a two million dollar libel suit in response as "frivolous and absurd."
Fortunately, others agree; a new blog, "Free Speech At CUNY" has ably taken up Karkhanis' case.
"Free Speech At CUNY" offers some delightful background on Karkhanis' assailant. O'Malley, former university faculty senate chair, former faculty representative on the CUNY board of trustees, and an all-around perennial in CUNY union posts, was the arranger of a 2004 CUNY conference on "Defining and Defending Academic Freedom"; the site provides the text of numerous faculty union statements on "dissent" and "academic freedom" in which O'Malley, as part of the union leadership, seems to have had a hand. The current case is useful in clarifying what she actually meant; freedom for her, libel suits for her opponent.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Prof. sues colleague for alleged libel
NEW YORK, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- A City University of New York professor is suing a colleague who criticized her for allegedly trying to "recruit terrorists" for teaching positions.
Susan O'Malley claims in her lawsuit that professor emeritus Sharad Karkhanis defamed her by lobbing accusations that she has an "obsession with finding jobs for terrorists" in recent issues of a newsletter he mails to faculty members of the city university system, the New York Post reported Monday.
Karkhanis wrote on the topic of O'Malley's efforts to find employment in CUNY for convicted activist lawyer Lynne Stewart's co-defendant, Mohammed Yousry, and former Weather Underground member Susan Rosenberg.
"Has Queen O'Malley ever made a 'Job Wanted' announcement like this for a non-convicted, non-violent, peace-loving American educator for a job in CUNY?" he wrote. "Why does she prefer convicted terrorists bent on harming our people and our nation over peace-loving Americans?"
Karkhanis wrote O'Malley "is recruiting naive ... faculty into her Qaida-Camp to infiltrate ... Personnel and Budget Committees in her mission -- to recruit terrorists in CUNY. Given the opportunity, she will bring in all her indicted, convicted and freed-on-bail terrorist-friends."
The suit claims Karkhanis' accusations are libelous.
After years of (successfully avoiding) laboring in academic obscurity at Kingsborough Community College, Susan O’Malley now seems poised on the verge international celebrity. God Save Our Queen!
From the the New York Times City Room
“A professor at Kingsborough Community College, Susan O’Malley, has filed a $2 million lawsuit against an emeritus professor there, Sharad Karkhanis, accusing him of defaming her by accusing her of having an “obsession with finding jobs for terrorists” in recent issues of a newsletter he’s been e-mailing to CUNY faculty members for 15 years. Mr. Karkhanis called the lawsuit meritless and said he would fight it. [New York Post]”
From the University Professionals of Illinois
"Muzzling a Watchdog? -- No one could accuse Sharad Karkhanis of pulling his punches. The emeritus professor at Kingsborough Community College publishes The Patriot Returns, an online newsletter that critiques the leadership of the faculty union at the City University of New York. The overall thrust of the newsletter is that the Professional Staff Congress, which is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, is poorly run, focused too much on leftist politics to be effective on behalf of its members. (Inside Higher Ed, Nov. 2) “
In light of the celebrity—or perhaps notoriety?—that Professor O’Malley has craved lo’ these many years, it is quite surprising that she is now not available for comment. Might it be that her attorneys are muzzling the PSC’s main muzzler?
PS: Happy Birthday, Art Garfunkel!
CUNY PROF WAR
LIBEL SUIT OVER 'TERROR'
By DAREH GREGORIAN
November 5, 2007 -- A CUNY professor has filed a $2 million lawsuit against a fellow Ph.D. who's been lambasting her for allegedly trying to "recruit terrorists" to teach within the City University system.
In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Susan O'Malley charges that professor emeritus Sharad Karkhanis defamed her by accusing her of having an "obsession with finding jobs for terrorists" in recent issues of a newsletter he's been e-mailing to CUNY faculty members for 15 years.
Citing O'Malley's efforts to land jobs for convicted activist lawyer Lynne Stewart's co-defendant Mohammed Yousry and former Weather Underground member Susan Rosenberg, Karkhanis wrote:
"Has Queen O'Malley ever made a 'Job Wanted' announcement like this for a nonconvicted, nonviolent, peace-loving American educator for a job in CUNY? . . . Why does she prefer convicted terrorists bent on harming our people and our nation over peace-loving Americans?"
The retired Kingsborough Community College political-science professor said O'Malley, an English professor there, "is recruiting naive . . . faculty into her Qaeda-Camp to infiltrate . . . Personnel and Budget Committees in her mission - to recruit terrorists in CUNY. Given the opportunity, she will bring in all her indicted, convicted and freed-on-bail terrorist-friends."
O'Malley believes the terrorist-recruiter claim to be libelous. But an unapologetic Karkhanis, 73, told The Post: "Give me a break. I'm going to fight this vigorously."
He added that he considers what he wrote to be satire but that he was also "raising questions I believe are appropriate."
He said O'Malley crossed the line when she tried to land a job for Yousry, who's out on bail pending appeal of his conviction for helping Stewart disseminate messages from 1993 World Trade Center bomb plotter Omar Abdel-Rahman.
O'Malley, on leave from CUNY, could not be reached for comment.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
“Resolution in Defense of the PSC Leadership’s Stand on Dissent and Academic Freedom
Presented by Steve Leberstein, Manny Ness and Miriam Thompson, February 28, 2002
Whereas, the leadership has shown strength and resilience in guiding the union’s diverse constituencies’ efforts to influence the mission and course of the public university, and
Whereas, the leadership has steadfastly championed the right of the CUNY student body and its faculty and staff to academic freedom and uncensored public discourse about major public policy issues, and
Whereas, the leadership has been attacked for the principled stand in defending our members when they were vilified by the press, the Chancellor, the Board of Trustees and the Mayor for questioning government policy, and
Whereas, the leadership tried to temper the stance of the University administration at a time when questioning of the government and dissent were imperiled, and to protect the welfare of its students, staff and faculty by so doing; now therefore be it
Resolved, that the Delegate Assembly express its support for the PSC leadership’s defense of the First Amendment and our members’ and students’ academic freedom.”
The PSC’s Leadership included in 2002, as it does in 2007, Barbara Bowen and "Sue" O’Malley. If CUNY’s own Charybdis and Silly were so ardent in their defense of the First Amendment some five years ago, what has changed? If Professor O’Malley was an impassioned champion of “uncensored public discourse” some five years ago, where has that passion gone? Time flies, we admit, but memories and moral claims do linger.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
by Jordan E. Kurland
"The theme of the 2004 fall conference of the City University of New York's University Faculty Senate, held on December 3 at Hunter College, was "Defining and Defending Academic Freedom." The conference program, arranged by faculty senate chair Susan O'Malley, featured several AAUP experts on academic freedom, including past and present chairs of the Association's Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. University of Virginia law professor Robert O'Neil, who is also director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, a former Committee A chair, and the current chair of the AAUP's Special Committee on Academic Freedom and National Security in a Time of Crisis, reviewed post-September 11 threats to academic freedom in specific incidents on campuses and in new federal and state laws and regulations. University of Illinois law professor Matthew Finkin, also a former Committee A chair and chair of the committee that investigated the recent case of CUNY adjunct instructor Mohamed Yousry, discussed that case in the context of previous AAUP investigations involving CUNY and of broader issues of academic freedom and due process affecting adjunct CUNY faculty. The investigating committee's report appeared in the November-December 2004 issue of Academe. Historian Joan Wallach Scott of the Institute for Advanced Study, who is currently Committee A chair, led one of several conference workshops and spoke briefly about academic freedom problems now facing the country in general and CUNY in particular. The AAUP's associate general secretary Jordan Kurland also led a workshop. City College historian Stephen Leberstein, a Committee A member, provided a digital presentation of an exhibit, "The Struggle for Free Speech and Academic Freedom at CCNY, 1931-42," that was on view at City College in the fall and was scheduled for showing at the Graduate Center in February and March."
It appears that Professors O'Malley and Scott would like to give a new meaning to "A-type personalities." Making the academy safe for Mohammed Yousry certainly seemed to be front and center in O'Malley's mind. Quite the strange poster boy for progressive academics!
With such inflammatory leads as “Love of Terrorists in U.S. Academe,” and such direct quotes as Professor Senator O’Malley’s on October 24, 2006—“Do you think CUNY could hire Mohammed Yousry? What do you think? I have his phone number. I could find out if he wants to be hired and if anyone would like to try to hire him”— John Ray seems about as liable as Sharad Karkhanis to a libel suit. It is not clear that O’Malley’s attorneys are licensed as either barristers or solicitors down under ,but what matter? With the current exchange rate, an additional $2,000,000 suit would net some 2,180,000AD: still a tidy sum after transportation and court costs. As to the prospects of winning in an antipodean court? Australians, we’ve been told, are still very fond of the Queen.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Libel Suits Are Not a Way to Protect Academic Freedom
InsideHigherEd reports on the case of a libel suit at City University of New York. I support Susan O’Malley’s defense of the academic freedom of Mohammad Yousry, and I believe Sharad Karkhanis’ attacks on her are idiotic and juvenile. Nevertheless, this libel suit is both frivolous and absurd, and to call a libel suit aimed at silencing critics a defense of “academic freedom” is obscene. Both conservatives and liberals on campus have faced attacks in the form of libel suits. It’s time for academics, left and right, to get together and agree that, morally speaking, all libel suits are a violation of the academic standards of free expression we should all embrace. I’m planning to write a book about the threat of libel suits to free expression, and I encourage with similar stories to contact me at email@example.com.
“Academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas and information are at the heart of a university and the key to creating an environment for learning. Protection for these freedoms must be among our highest priorities.”
In 2005, the union’s president, Barbara Bowen, quarreled quite publicly (and quite bitterly) with the university’s chancellor, Matthew Goldstein, over less than friendly press coverage of some of her radical confreres. CUNY’s crop of critics of capitalism, racism and patriarchy seem to have rather thin skins these days. Indeed, Professors Bowen, O’Malley and company requested that the American Association of University Professors investigate the supposedly sorry state of academic freedom at CUNY, with an eye toward censuring the university. No such sanctions have been forthcoming.
At other junctures, however, neither the Bowen-dominated PSC nor the O’Malley-led University Faculty Senate have been so fastidious about faculty rights. When our indefatigable colleague Robert “KC” Johnson fell afoul of "academic terrorists" at Brooklyn College on his way to tenure, the union offered him but the shortest of shrifts. The Hillary Clinton (for Senator) button on his book bag did not absolve him of the sins of insisting on multiple political perspectives at a post-9/11 teach in. Susan O’Malley denounced Chancellor Goldstein’s decision to grant Johnson tenure (and preserve CUNY’s reputation) as part of a process that one judicious observer called a case of libel. It seems that some libels are more serious than others.
Now some four years after the Johnson imbroglio, the sisterhood of usual suspects is at it again. The reasons why, at this late date, "Sue" O’Malley’s amour-propre has been so damaged by the satiric shafts of The Patriot Returns will, in due course, come to light. So, too, will the benefits to Barbara Bowen should her most consistent and trenchant critic be silenced. Since the issues involved in the O’Malley v. Karkhanis case are not limited to CUNY, but resonate across the American academy, we hope that many will take notice. Ms. Hide's recent comments notwithstanding, there is nothing "silly" about her lawsuit.
Higher ed union defends free speech
The Professional Staff Congress, representing academic and professional staff at the City University of New York, scored several First Amendment victories recently.
The union, led by President Barbara Bowen, went to bat for members at Baruch College, Kingsborough Community College and the College of Staten Island.
At Baruch College, the administration had issued a gag order to prevent staff from speaking to the media without getting permission from the college. PSC objected to the demand, which was reminiscent of an order issued — and since rescinded — at LaGuardia CC.
After Patrick Lloyd of Kingsborough CC was suspended from two online discussion lists, the union filed improper practice charges with the state Public Employment Relations Board. Lloyd had been reprimanded for circulating union literature and discussing the union's upcoming elections. The college settled on the matter.
When Irwin Blatt, a PSC retiree and adjunct professor at CSI testified on behalf of a colleague at a discrimination hearing, the college cut Blatt's hours at the school. He was later awarded $170,000.
— PSC Clarion
Why then their reluctance to take an unambiguous stand for the First Amendment rights of Sharad Karkahis, a dues paying member of the Retirees Chapter? Surely President Bowen and her supporters would not play favorites in so serious a matter as this, would they?
Libel tourism at CUNY
We've read a lot in the news lately about "libel tourism," or the habit alleged terror financiers have of using the accommodating English courts to mount--and win--spurious libel suits against those who purport to expose their ties to terror. Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of Funding Evil, has been a target of one of these, and is now defending her free speech rights in the American courts. And over the summer, Cambridge University Press became so worried about a similar suit that it recalled and pulped Alms for Jihad, a book about ties between Muslim charities and terrorism.
Now, in a curious academic twist, a CUNY English professor and faculty union leader is doing some local libel tourism, suing a fellow CUNY professor who has satirically attacked her for her efforts to ensure the academic employment of convicted terrorists such as former Weatherman Susan Rosenberg.
Susan O'Malley is a frequent target of Sharad Karkhanis, whose online newsletter charts--and regularly pillories-- the antics of CUNY's faculty union, which he regards as both incompetent and ideologically biased. Karkhanis has devoted special attention to O'Malley. And she doesn't like it.
Expressing sharply worded criticism of O'Malley's work for the union, Karkhanis's writing would appear to be nothing more outlandish than an exercise of his free speech rights, not to mention his academic freedom. But there are a lot of academics out there who view unwelcome criticism as a form of "assault" (the word is everywhere in debates about such things). They reason from that overblown characterization, which misconstrues words as weapons, that hurtful language is an actionable violation of one's person. And then they get onto the terrain that leads them to craft speech codes and, in this case, to sue.
The doublespeak surrounding the lawsuit is fascinating. It's become common for defenders of an academic status quo that is in many ways indefensible to accuse critics of that status quo of threatening academic freedom. That's what the AAUP did in its Freedom in the Classroom statement. It's what the Ad Hoc Committee to Defend the University does in its recent statement. And it's what O'Malley is claiming now--even though the facts suggest that if anyone is threatening open debate and academic freedom, it's her.
Here's O'Malley's lawyer, speaking to Inside Higher Ed: "What the Web site is trying to do is to silence Susan O'Malley by branding her a terrorist, which is the exact opposite of a free debate." Translation: O'Malley wishes to silence her critic by accusing him of trying to silence her; she doesn't like his criticism, and rather than respond to him, she's trying to shut him down--and make him pay.
Also speaking to IHE, KC Johnson notes that the CUNY union now stands at an ethical crossroads; how it responds to O'Malley's suit will say a great deal about whether it's really committed to the academic freedom of its members. That will, in turn, reveal whether what the union really wants to do is use academic freedom to promote some views while suppressing others. Noting that in the past, "PSC president Barbara Bowen has suggested that academic freedom protected" a CUNY professor's right to label religious people "moral retards," Johnson now asks a pointed question: "Will she now similarly apply her flexible definition of the concept, and rebuke O'Malley's attempt to silence Karkhanis?"
I don't want to make light of the sharpness of Karkhanis' characterization of O'Malley. But I do want to stress that the First Amendment makes lots and lots of room for sharp characterizations; libel law in turn makes particularly large allowances for public figures, on the understanding that in a free society, a lot of flak is going to be directed their way.
There's more on the developing case at Inside Higher Ed, at Cliopatria, and at the new blog, Free Speech at CUNY.
Meanwhile, if you are inclined to more abstract considerations, you might wish to meditate on the broader question of how it is that we have lost our ability to comprehend and tolerate satire. In the comments at IHE, "Frizbane Manley" reproduces remarks he once delivered to young academics:
I'm leading up to my advice to young faculty members. You young folks in graduate school and in your first positions as assistant professors, however you structure your careers, do not, under any circumstances, write parody or satire. Eschew irony! Take my word for it, you will be writing in an environment in which sarcasm, biting wit, and paradox will confuse your colleagues, anger your chair and dean, and infuriate your president. And the legislators who vote on bills providing financial support for your university ... well, du-uuh. Were Jonathan Swift your colleague, 'A Modest Proposal' and 'Gulliver's Travels' would forever block his progress toward promotion and tenure.
It's not that these academics and legislators object to satire and irony, per se; it's simply that they donâ€™t understand it ... they are forced to take it at face value ... the curse of the intellectually challenged.
One is reminded of a scene in the Steve Martin classic, Roxanne. Martin, in his guise as local fire chief, is walking a naked Daryl Hannah home after she has been locked out of her house. A hedge is between them, for propriety's sake. "Nobody had a coat?" Hannah/Roxanne asks. "You said you didn't want a coat," Martin replies. "Why would I not want a coat?" Roxanne repeats. "You said you didn't want a coat," Martin repeats. "I was being ironic," Roxanne says, to which Martin responds, "Oh, ho, ho, irony! Oh, no, no, we don't get that here. See, people ski topless here while smoking dope, so irony's not really a, a high priority. We haven't had any irony here since about '83, when I was the only practitioner of it. And I stopped because I was getting tired of being stared at."
CUNY Professor Sued For Libel
by Luke Sheahan
November 2, 2007
As we reported in September, Susan O’Malley, a professor at the City University of New York (CUNY), Kingsboro Community College, had threatened to bring a libel lawsuit against CUNY Emeritus Professor Sharad Karkhanis. The suit has now been filed to the tune of two million dollars. Karkhanis has been an outspoken critic of O’Malley. He claimed in The Patriot Returns, his online newsletter for members of the CUNY community, that O’Malley was trying to “bring in all her indicted, convicted, and freed-on-bail terrorist friends” to the university. This accusation followed O’Malley’s defense of Susan Rosenberg, a convicted terrorist and former member of the radical Weather Underground, and Mohammed Yousry, a CUNY adjunct professor convicted in the Lynne Stewart case. Karkhanis reported that she even suggested that her institution should hire Yousry.
O’Malley has held various leadership positions within the CUNY government, including head of the faculty senate. For all intents and purposes, therefore, she is a public figure. Criticism of public figures has a long history of enjoying First Amendment protection. As CUNY Professor KC Johnson explains at the History News Network,
Karkhanis’ rhetoric, obviously, can be over-the-top. That said, at all points in the last decade, O’Malley has been a public official, repeatedly running for union and University-wide offices on slates that Karkhanis (and lots of other CUNY profs) have opposed. Mockery in election campaigns has long been recognized as protected under the First Amendment.
A spokesman for the Professional Staff Congress, CUNY’s faculty union, claimed in an Inside Higher Ed article that the organization is a “strong defender of free speech,” but suggested that accusing someone of terrorist ties in a post-9/11 world may meet the legal standards for libel. This is a dubious argument if I’ve ever heard one, as KC Johnson notes,
If describing the case exactly as the plaintiff has in her filing while hinting that in “a post-9/11 world” some forms of political satire might enjoy less protection than before the terrorist attacks represents the CUNY faculty union’s position as a “strong defender of free speech,” I’d hate to see the PSC’s approach when it doesn’t defend free speech.
Candace De Russy has covered this ridiculous case at Phi Beta Cons here, and Brooklyn College Professor Mitchell Langbert has some interesting insights at his blog, here and here.
In certain cases, like this one, FIRE draws on our Legal Network to help people find appropriate legal representation, and we are pleased that we have been able to help Professor Karkhanis thus far.
Friday, November 2, 2007
This group, organized by O'Malley's AAUP comrade-in-arms Joan Scott, is concerned with the presence and pressure of outside groups who have become embroiled in on-campus curricular and personnel issues. In response, Scott, O'Malley and such other CUNY luminaries as Anthony Alessandrini (Kingsborough), Bonnie Anderson (Brooklyn College), Sandi Cooper (College of Staten Island), and Timothy Shortell (Brooklyn College) have observed that:
"The suppression of free speech undermines academic freedom and subverts the norms of academic life. It poses a serious threat to institutions of higher education in the United States. The university should be a place where different interpretations can be explored and competing ideas exchanged. Academic freedom means not only the right to pursue a variety of interpretations, but the maintenance of standards of truth and acceptability by one’s peers."
In response, they pledge:
"to vigorously promote our views in the media and through the Internet, and to explain the importance of academic freedom to a sustainable and vibrant democracy"
And well they should!
One does wonder, however, why Susan O'Malley is so adamant about standing up for free speech in the face of criticisms by "groups portraying themselves as defenders of Israel," while also attempting to silence Sharad Karkhanis for circulating statements made by her concerning Mohammed Yousry. Might it be that this erstwhile professor of English has taken to heart Ralph Waldo Emerson's comments about foolish consistency and little minds? Or perhaps there is a more substantive difference between ad hoc and ad hominem instances of academic freedom?
Clarifications and/or explanations would be most appreciated.
Read the whole story here.
Dorothee Benz, a spokeswoman for the Professional Staff Congress, said via e-mail that the union “is not a party to Susan O’Malley’s lawsuit against Sharad Karkhanis. We are unfamiliar with its details and cannot judge its legal merits.”
As to the newsletter and its author’s rights, she said: “The PSC is a strong defender of free speech, and we defend Karkhanis’s right to free speech. The PSC itself has been a frequent target of Karkhanis’s vitriol, and much of what he has said about us is inaccurate and repugnant, but we have never questioned his right to free speech.”
Benz added, however: “Free speech, however, has limits, as any first year law student knows. O’Malley’s case concerns one of those limits, where the right to free speech comes up against the harm caused by libelous statements. Whether accusing someone of aiding and training terrorists, in a post-9/11 world, rises to meet the legal standards that define libel is up to the courts to decide.”
A former head of the faculty senate at the City University of New York is suing an emeritus professor for $2 million for accusing her of recruiting terrorists to teach at the university and campaigning for administrative positions to avoid teaching classes herself.
Susan O'Malley is accusing professor Sharad Karkhanis of libel and defamation for writing in a widely distributed anti-union newsletter that she was "obsessed" with finding jobs for terrorists at the university. Mr. Karkhanis, a former professor of political science at Kingsborough Community College, wrote that Ms. O'Malley was "recruiting naïve, innocent members of the KCC faculty into her Queda-Camp to infiltrate college and departmental Personnel and Budget Committees in her mission — to recruit terrorists in CUNY."
Mr. Karkhanis made the claim last spring after Ms. O'Malley, a professor of English at the Brooklyn college and an officer of the faculty union, proposed to rehire Mohamed Yousry, an Arabic-language translator convicted of supporting terrorist activities. He was fired from York College.
"Given the opportunity, she will bring in all her indicted, convicted, and freed-on-bail terrorist friends" to the university, Mr. Karkhanis wrote in the newsletter, the Patriot Returns.
Mr. Karkhanis also criticized Ms. O'Malley for defending the right of an adjunct lecturer at John Jay College, Susan Rosenberg, to teach at the school after press reports showed that she was a member of a radical group, the Weather Underground, and had served 16 years in prison for keeping explosives in her apartment. The Patriot Returns is a newsletter that has been distributed since 1992 to about 13,000 faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees at CUNY, and is available online. A lawyer for Ms. O'Malley, Joseph Carasso, said in a letter to Mr. Karkhanis that the statements were made with actual malice and intended to "inflict harm through their falsehood."Mr. Karkhanis said he viewed the lawsuit, which was filed in state Supreme Court last month, as an attempt to infringe on his freedom of speech. He said he would rather serve time in jail than retract his statements.
The professor defended his use of the phrase "Queda-Camp," saying it was meant as satire, and he said it is his right to criticize a leader at CUNY.
"She's a public figure, and I have a right to say that, based on the evidence I have and the pattern I've seen of this woman," Mr. Karkhanis said. "Why would someone try to assist the terrorist people when you have good Americans who are looking for the job?"
A professor of business and economics at Brooklyn College, Mitchell Langbert, said Mr. Karkhanis was acting within his rights. "Sharad is an extremely influential force," Mr. Langbert said. "The union, an ingrown left-wing group, has every motivation to try to silence him. Getting him embroiled in a lawsuit like this would be advantageous to the union leadership."
A spokeswoman for the Professional Staff Congress, Dorothee Benz, said yesterday that the union had nothing to do with the lawsuit.
Ms. O'Malley, reached at her home in Brooklyn, said she did not want to discuss the case. "It's all very, very silly," she said.
No trial date has been set.