Ward Churchill, victim

In a split-the-baby decision that exhibited little of the wisdom of Solomon, a jury in Denver found Thursdy that the University of Colorado fired controversial former professor Ward Churchill in retaliation for an essay he wrote immediately after 9/11. Then, to demonstrate how important that supposed free-speech violation was, the jury awarded Churchill $1 in damages.

So be it. The jury heard several weeks of testimony before reaching its decision. And that decision in no way changes the findings of three CU investigative panels, made up of more than 20 members of the CU faculty, which found that Churchill repeatedly committed plagarism, falsification and fabrication in his work.

The findings of those panels weren’t overturned by the jury decision. Rather, the jurors concluded that Churchill would never have been fired if it hadn’t been for his essay following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In it, Churchill called the victims of those attacks who worked at the World Trade Center “little Eichmanns,” a reference to Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

The jury’s decision also didn’t determine whether Churchill can return to the classroom at CU. He has maintained all along that was his goal. But now it’s up to Denver Chief District Judge Larry J. Naves to decide whether he can return to CU or whether the university must pay him for future years he would have worked at CU.

Either way, it’s going to cost CU money. But we hope Judge Naves gives serious consideration to the three reports regarding Churchill’s acadmeic misconduct and concludes, as CU leaders did, that the professor doesn’t belong on the faculty of the state’s flagship university.


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