Paging Gerry Nicholls

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In a post a few days ago, I took Gerry Nicholls of the National Citizens Coalition to task for his characterization of a law that limits the amount that lobby groups can spend on election advertising. Nicholls seemed to think that the law was depriving him of his freedom of speech.

This is what it looks like when you're deprived of your freedom of speech.

Bill Nevins, a New Mexico high school teacher and personal friend, was fired last year and classes in poetry and the poetry club at Rio Rancho High School were permanently terminated. It had nothing to do with obscenity, but it had everything to do with extremist politics.
In March 2003, a teenage girl named Courtney presented one of her poems before an audience at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Albuquerque, then read the poem live on the school's closed-circuit television channel.

A school military liaison and the high school principal accused the girl of being "un-American" because she criticized the war in Iraq and the Bush administration's failure to give substance to its "No child left behind" education policy.

The girl's mother, also a teacher, was ordered by the principal to destroy the child's poetry. The mother refused and may lose her job.

Bill Nevins was suspended for not censoring the poetry of his students. Remember, there is no obscenity to be found in any of the poetry. He was later fired by the principal.

After firing Nevins and terminating the teaching and reading of poetry in the school, the principal and the military liaison read a poem of their own as they raised the flag outside the school. When the principal had the flag at full staff, he applauded the action he'd taken in concert with the military liaison.

Then to all students and faculty who did not share his political opinions, the principal shouted: "Shut your faces." What a wonderful lesson he gave those 3,000 students at the largest public high school in New Mexico. In his mind, only certain opinions are to be allowed.

But more was to come. Posters done by art students were ordered torn down, even though none was termed obscene. Some were satirical, implicating a national policy that had led us into war. Art teachers who refused to rip down the posters on display in their classrooms were not given contracts to return to the school in this current school year.

See the difference?

Via Gallimaufry.

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Red Room! Red Room! from Bow. James Bow. on May 21, 2004 7:41 AM

Woah. Check out this photo gallery on Seattle's new public library (link courtesy Jordan Cooper). Upon careful reflection, I'd have to call this a brash, bold and somewhat beautiful building but, c'mon, can anybody learn anything in there while surroun... Read More

Remember my post on Bill Nevins' lawsuit against his New Mexico schoolboard for firing him, supposedly for one of his student's anti-war poetry. Although some of the details of the case may not be as clear-cut as we first thought,... Read More

Red Room! Red Room! from Bow. James Bow: Journal on August 16, 2005 8:13 PM

Woah. Check out this photo gallery on Seattle’s new public library (link courtesy Jordan Cooper). Upon careful reflection, I’d have to call this a brash, bold and somewhat beautiful building but, c’mon, can anybody learn anything in t... Read More


This does seem unfair on the surface - firing the teacher, though admittedly a far left humanities professor - It is something I would expect of the LLL, as it is well documented how they crush conservative's freedom of speech on campuses.

However, according to this article ( and this article (, it does look as if this particular case isn't as cut and dried as it looked initially.

It doesn't look as if the sanctions against the girl were quite as harsh as claimed in the article, for one thing, at least if we're to believe what she herself states:

"A staff member, who has a military background and military mindset, complained about the poem, saying it was an anti-war speech... Due to the complaint, the administration asked for a copy of the poem... I delivered it to the RRHS administrators when I got back from spring break because they wished to read it. They read it, looking for two things: profanity and incitement to violence. They found neither."

Not much "suppression" to be found there.

And, as to Mr. Nevins, the teacher that DID get fired, this:

"School officials maintain that Mr. Nevins failed to follow district policy when he allegedly allowed students to perform at public poetry readings outside of school without field-trip permission forms."

Seals up that case, as far as I'm concerned. I may think it a bit harsh to fire somebody for letting his students go on a field trip without a permit (actually I DO think it plenty harsh. A warning would suffice), but the school is certainly well within its rights there, which is further illustrated by the fact that even the ACLU wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole.

"firing the teacher, though admittedly a far left humanities professor"

You make it sound as though it would be more acceptable to fire him for his beliefs if he's "far left". Bit of a disconnect there.

By the way, you can use HTML in comments here.

Canadian Guy: Yes - they used a convienent excuse to fire him easily.

Is this what free speech looks like?

Just wondering.

Back to the lobbying groups though. My issue isn't with special interest groups, per se. It is with corporate money used under the guise of free speech to influence our government.

If we repeal corporate personhood, won't we be able to shut corporate lobbiests out without infringing free speech?

Corporations are property.

Property is not human.


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This page contains a single entry by pogge published on May 20, 2004 9:54 PM.

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