Recently, a tenured professor from the California State University at Fresno (I won’t use her name because that’s what she wants) used some pretty inflammatory speech about the late First Lady, Barbara Bush. This has created a lot of controversy. Also something I’m sure that she wants, with people and organizations lining up on both sides. Liberal organizations are screaming that she has the right to say what she wants as it is protected by the First Amendment, but is it? The Supreme Court has already ruled that certain types of speech are NOT protected, here is a short list:
- Fighting words
- Defamation (including libel and slander)
- Child pornography
- Incitement to imminent lawless action
- True threats
- Solicitations to commit crimes
Notice the third bullet point? Some of the things that this tenured professor called Mrs. Bush were ‘witch and racist,’ neither of which have ever been proven and are particularly hurtful. These words were used in a context that could only be construed as defamatory. That would mean that this person’s comments were not protected under the ‘free speech’ clause. Let me be sure that you understand what I am talking about. This professor committed slander against Mrs. Bush. Here is the legal definition:
n. oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another, which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed. Slander is a civil wrong (tort) and can be the basis for a lawsuit. Damages (payoff for worth) for slander may be limited to actual (special) damages unless there is malicious intent, since such damages are usually difficult to specify and harder to prove. Some statements, such as an untrue accusation of having committed a crime, having a loathsome disease or being unable to perform one's occupation, are treated as slander per se since the harm and malice are obvious and therefore usually result in general and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed. Words spoken over the air on television or radio are treated as libel (written defamation) and not slander on the theory that broadcasting reaches a large audience as much as if not more than printed publications.
If I were the Bushes, I’d be filing a lawsuit right now. It should be obvious that there was malicious intent. I’m sure that ACLU would be happy to defend her since they are already defending her right to ‘free speech.’
How many people would be attacking me if I were to say that Mr. Obama is a racist and anti-Semitic? Yet, both of these charges appear to be true. Mr. Obama verbally attacked Caucasians more than any other group and look at how he treated Israel. The difference? He is an extreme liberal, so rules, like that silly Constitution, don’t apply to him.
I fully expect that tenured professor to making the talk-show circuit. She’s controversial in the right direction for most of the liberal platforms. I think that’s okay. In fact, I would like to encourage more people like her to make these kinds of statements. Just look at the outrage it produces among the people who will be voting this fall.