Friday, December 28, 2007

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?”

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