Drive-by crocodile tears over ‘academic freedom’

graphicGeneNichols_1It’s particularly disgusting to see our state’s drive-by media try to compare the UNC Board of Governors’ decision to shut down a scam on the Chapel Hill campus to McCarthyism or the state’s one-time speaker ban.  WRAL’s Laura Leslie tried hard to get the ball rolling on this scam — portraying bloviated buffoon Gene Nichol as a martyr — but had a hard time finding ANYONE, even other academics, to actually agree with her. 

Next in line to try to pitch this nonsense to us was McClatchy’s resident grumpy old man, Rob (Rielle Who?) Christensen.  Rob took a break from yelling at your kids to get off his lawn to tug a few low-information heart-strings regarding ”academic freedom”:

The targeting of an outspoken law professor by a University of North Carolina Board of Governors committee is only the latest example of powerful interests trying to smother voices of conscience. […]

*Yeah! And according to Rob, the first — and most egregious instance — occurred when NCGOP operatives smothered Rob’s ”voice of conscience” when they forcibly removed his bony ass from the NCGOP convention.*  MORE: 

[…] Gene Nichol incurred the wrath of the Republicans with his criticisms of GOP Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislature’s rightward turn of state government. Last week, the Republicans showed him who was boss, when a Republican-controlled UNC board committee recommended abolishing the UNC-Chapel Hill Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity that Nichol heads.uncch

Nichol is not the first professor to suffer for being politically incorrect with the Raleigh establishment.[…]

HOW IS HE SUFFERING ??????  He and his wife are STILL each pulling down six-figure salaries provided by the thoroughly beaten-down taxpayers of North Carolina.

Rob goes on to compare Nichol to some former UNC profs who tried to provide aid and comfort to blacks during the era of segregation. #WEAK.

It’s interesting to see Rob so interested in academic freedom. I don’t remember him EVER showing an interest in the harassment and other trials & tribulation of UNCW professor — and token faculty conservative — Mike Adams.    I also don’t remember Rob getting huffy about the lefty-dominated UNC-CH student government snatching money from the College Republican speaker’s fund.  I also don’t remember Rob raising a fuss about leftist shout-downs of conservative speakers.

No one is silencing Nichol.  Official support is being pulled for his “Center” in accordance with an effort to implement fiscal restraint during an era of tight education budgets.  He can still rant and rave against Phil Berger and Dan Forest to his heart’s content, and his huge salary and tenure won’t be affected. drive_by_media1

Rob leaves out the details about the origins of UNC’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.  It was created shortly after the 2004 national elections to give John Edwards — who had given up his Senate seat and lost the race for VP of the US — something to do. It was a taxpayer provided soapbox for Edwards to stay visible as he contemplated his political future.  Of course, Rob has a history of not being so observant about John Edwards.  You have to remember that Rob followed Edwards around all through his presidential / vice-presidential runs and never noticed the blonde with the video camera. And, for his troubles, he got scooped by The National Enquirer.  

Rob also seems to forget Nichol’s past at William & Mary — and how his installation at his UNC post was basically an effort by lefty faculty buddies to give Nichol somewhere to go after his hasty departure from Williamsburg.  (Kinda like what happened with Edwards.)


The effort underway by the UNC Board of Governors to abolish UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity comes after the Republican-controlled legislature directed the board it appointed to cut $15 million from the various UNC centers.

The board members would have to be a quart low of oil not to understand that their job was to go after Nichol’s center. Defenders argue that even if the center is shut down, Nichol still will be a tenured law school faculty member and he would be able to speak out. But the action would be the political equivalent of putting a bloody horse’s head in Nichol’s bed in the middle of the night.

There is plenty of evidence that the Republicans have been seeking to intimidate Nichol.


Among the UNC board members who have had the sharpest knives out for Nichol has been Steve Long, a Raleigh attorney who was formerly on the board of the Civitas Institute, a Raleigh-based advocacy

A week after Nichol wrote a very tough – in my opinion unduly harsh – column in The News & Observer about McCrory in October 2013, Civitas hit UNC with a public records request to see all of Nichol’s emails, calendar entries, phone logs and text messages, gaining access to 1,180 pages of information. The organization also published his salary and that of his wife, who is chief of staff of UNC Health Care System.

Nor have Republicans and their allies been averse to using other tactics against government critics.[…]

*Sigh.*   Civitas had been poking around on Nichol well before he wrote that column.  Also, Nichol’s salary and that of his wife were published in a database posted on the N&O web site !!!  (That’s where we found it.)  So, does that make Rob’s employer party to this supposed right-wing conspiracy?

We consider ourselves government critics here at this site.  And — to our knowledge — Civitas hasn’t tried to come after us.  Who are they coming after?

It was the Civitas Institute that posted on its website the mugshots of those arrested last year during the “Moral Monday” protests against Republican policies, in a transparent effort to embarrass them.

Those Moral Monday people actually did one hell of a job of embarrassing themselves ALL BY THEMSELVES.  Actually, what Civitas – and a lot of other conservative media outlets — did was to repeatedly point out that these protesters were not the Average Joes that Rob and his comrades were portraying them to be.  Those protests were stock full of a bunch of professional leftist agitators and radicals hiding amongst a sprinkling of wide-eyed low-information innocents.

Rob can keep fooling himself and trying to fool his dwindling pool of readers.  The Center on Poverty was little more than a left-wing political operation hiding in plain sight on the UNC campus, in state-owned facilities, and on the UNC budget, showing two middle fingers to the people who financially support its existence.  And that is why it is going away.