Sunday, December 30, 2007

O'Malley at the MLA: Defamed, but not Discouraged.

Despite claims that Sharad Karkhanis has caused her profound psychic and professional harm, CUNY’s Prof. “Sue” has been rather busy at the 2007 meeting of the MLA. The Radical Caucus in English and Modern Languages presented two resolutions to that body’s Delegate Assembly: one on Zionism; the other on Ward Churchill. Since “Sue” serves as the RC’s Executive Director, we presume that both resolutions express her sentiments, and as such should be shared with her admiring public:

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.


A Thinly Veiled Attack on a Trustee?

Today’s number of Inside Higher Ed includes a feature on the recent meeting of the Modern Language Association, in particular on debates within the MLA’s Delegate Assembly over resolutions defending the academic freedom of campus critics of policies and politics in the Middle East. A resolution by Montclair State University’s Grover Furr called on the MLA to “defend the academic freedom and the freedom of speech of faculty and invited speakers to criticize Zionism and Israel” but did not refer to the Jewish state’s supporters. The resolution that prevailed acknowledged that the Middle East was a subject of “intense debate,” and stated that it was “essential that colleges and universities protect faculty rights to speak forthrightly on all sides of the issue.”

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

Will Bowen Now Go After THE JEWISH PRESS?

Chief among the actions that have landed Sharad Karkhanis in civil court has been The Patriot Returns! 's systematic exposure of “Sue” O’Malley’s and the Professional Staff Congress’s support for unsavory characters and radical causes. The case that he so effectively made is amplified and documented in the December 19th number of The Jewish Press. In a feature entitled “CUNY Professors Decry Their Union’s Anti-Israel, Anti-American Activities,” Elliot Resnick substantiates many of the claims that have been made by Sharad, in particular the close connections between Barbara Bowen and Michael Letwin.

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

Selective Free Speech at CUNY

CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress has been conspicuously quiet regarding the case of O’Malley v. Karkhanis, save for noting that “free speech...has limits.” In light of “Sue” O’Malley’s long service to the PSC, and her prominent membership in their ruling, radical New Caucus, this silence is puzzling. Perhaps Barbara Bowen knows a bad lawsuit, and a losing issue, when she sees one.

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.


"Sue" to Sharad: Season's Greetings!

On Friday, December 21st, just in time for the holidays, the attorney representing Susan O'Malley delivered the full complaint to the members of Sharad Karkhanis' legal team. Here at "Free Speech at CUNY," we hope to provide coverage on and commentary about the lawsuit as soon as possible.


Say It Ain't "Sue"?

The latest number of The Patriot Returns! delivers good news about the ever-diminishing status of Susan O’Malley. In a campus wide election, Professor “Sue” lost her long-held seat in the University Faculty Senate as a representative from Kingsborough Community College. Members of KCC’s faculty also rejected her bid to serve as alternate senator.

At this point, it is not clear that O’Malley will be “Sue”-ing those who voted against her for libel and defamation.


A Holiday Season Pardon for Sharad?

At the Democracy Project, Phil Ornstein compares the maneuvers of “Sue” O’Malley and Barbara Bowen to the friends of free speech in power in the Sudan. (We do wonder how CUNY’s weird sisters would fare under Sharia law.)

“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

Will Sue "Sue" Dan?

To date, there are some things about what Susan O'Malley herself has termed her "very, very silly" lawsuit that even "Sue" doesn't deny.

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.