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John Gibson opines U CO students have "little skulls full of mush"

Reported by Chrish - February 10, 2005

John Gibson became part of the Big Story 2/9 when he played prosecutor's advocate to Judge Andrew Napolitano's defense attorney, trying to figure out how "we" could get Ward Churchill fired for expressing taboo ideas.

Gibson said, "Look, Judge, we're not going to go over the same old ground again. He can't be fired for exercising free speech. But can't he be fired for incompetently teaching? If this is what he is teaching those little skulls full of mush, can't the voters of Colorado say, 'look, if you're going to be professor Al Jazeera, we will fire you for incompetence.'"

The judge said his tenure contract allowed for firing in the event of incompetence, e.g. refusal to teach, or refusal to grade exams. However, he probably can't be fired for "weird, bizarre, left-wing, indefensible from a moral standpoint" political opinions.

Gibson argues, "It's not that they're left-wing...what he's saying is, what he's teaching, never mind what he's saying, what he's teaching students, and "one" supposes requiring them to parrot back to him in order to get a passing grade for the class, is that the USA kills hundreds of thousands of people around the world, all the time and therefore we deserve things like 9/11 and in fact more 9/11s; he says to expect them if he isn't actually calling for them. Now if he's teaching young people that and they have to agree to it to pass, can't WE fire him?"

The judge reiterates "again, probably not. I don't know, maybe you do, if they have to parrot it back. That's reprehensible."

Gibson, interrupting, "That's how it ALL works..."
Judge "That's reprehensible if they have to, if they have to..."
Gibson "Weren't you in college?
Judge "Yes, of course I was, John. That's reprehensible if they have to parrot it back. But, if he is throwing these bizarre, indefensible ideas out there to challenge them, that is an acceptable means of teaching. Look, I don't want to be in the position to defend his words - I condemn them. But I will defend his right to speak those words, and so will the courts in Colorado."

Gibson (still not getting it) "All right, he can speak them in a phone booth. But that doesn't mean he can speak them in a lecture hall, full of students, does it?"

Judge opines that this is the problem with tenure. Even it is characterized as hate speech as long as there is time to rebut it and/or neutralize it, he can't be punished.

Gibson "Judge, there's all kinds of speech you can't make on campus, but you can make this speech?"

Judge "Unfortunately, yes. And his lawyers know it, and so do the governors."

Gibson, using his finger for emphasis, closes with "We shall see, Judge."

Comment: Gibson's indignation that Churchill may well keep his job is apparent throughout the interview. While he may have been role-playing, a position I find disconcerting for a "fair and balanced journalist", at no point have I seen him (or anyone on Fox) take the role of defending Professor Churchill's view.

Gibson's remarks about students' "skulls full of mush" and having to "parrot back" show a deep disrespect for the students and for higher education. It actually shows contempt for primary and secondary education too, inferring kids go through 12 years of schooling and arrive in college with no ability to think or judge for themselves, dumb empty vessels accepting everything they hear as indisputable truth. (Maybe in his world that's true...) He exemplifies the fear that right-wingers have of exposing their kids to differing, even extreme, points of view that might interfere with their indoctrination.

Gibson may feel so defensive because the ideas which Churchill puts forth are in conflict with what Gibson asserts in his own book, Hating America.
Newsday had this to say about Gibson's book :

"...his main charge, leveled through a rehash of UN wranglings during the run-up to the war in Iraq, is simply that other countries didn't understand our feelings after 9/11 and didn't support the American invasion."
and
"Gibson's truculent tone ("The rest of the world can go to hell. It wasn't attacked. We were. And we'll judge who plotted against us and who is plotting still") will alienate readers who aren't already predisposed to his views, and might be perceived as another fine example of American belligerence."

Churchill's premise that those who attacked us were giving us a taste of our own medicine, while painful to explore, has a legitimate place in an honest and intellectual debate. No wonder FOX is going after it so hard - can't have any of that, now can we?

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