Will EWU Invite Ward Churchill to Speak After All?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Feb. 17, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now, as far as we know, after all the controversy, two colleges might still pay radical Professor Ward Churchill (search) to speak on campus, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (search) and Eastern Washington University (search).

As we told the you earlier in the broadcast, Churchill may be fired by the University of Colorado for questionable behavior, and, certainly, his opinion on America and 9/11 is off the chart radical. Churchill gets speaking engagements from an Oakland-based outfit that specializes in providing anti-American speakers.

At Eastern Washington University, President Stephen Jordan recently disinvited Churchill to speak, but, a few days ago, the faculty senate voted to reinvite him.

Joining us now from Spokane is Josh Fahrnkopf, the president of the Republican Club at EWU, and Patty Chantrill, the faculty organization president at that university.

All right, Professor. I'll begin with you. The — was it a unanimous vote by the faculty senate and why did you do it?

PATTY CHANTRILL, EASTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: First, no, it was not a unanimous vote. We actually had one abstention, and this is out of between 30, 35 faculty represented on the senate.

Why did we do it? I would say that we did it predominantly to voice our concern about the abridgment of free speech that occurs when you disinvite a speaker and...

O'REILLY: OK. So it was unanimous except for one person who didn't vote at all, but there was nobody saying, look, I don't want this guy up here?

Would you — would you, Professor, approve of a speaker who was, say, a member of the Ku Klux Klan? Would the faculty senate there say, gee, we should have that guy up here as well? Would you?

CHANTRILL: I think with the — you know, it's hard to argue a hypothetical. I'd like to believe that we would vote in favor of free speech regardless of the perspective.

O'REILLY: Well, any speaker, no matter how radical or reactionary that person's viewpoint, no matter how racist it is, would be welcomed at Eastern Washington University?

CHANTRILL: No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that I think that we have a fundamental obligation to uphold the values of free speech and academic freedom, and so, if you ask me in a hypothetical sense, I'd like to believe that, yes, that's what I would do.

O'REILLY: But this — all right, but let's make it a little bit — let's make it a little more real. This is what I don't understand, and I think millions of people don't understand it either.

If you're going to invite a radical anti-American person like Ward Churchill to speak on your campus, somebody who flatout dislikes this country and wants to change it violently, all right, then why wouldn't you invite other people of his ilk, like Neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen, other people who want to change the country as well but in different ways using violent means? Why just Churchill?

CHANTRILL: Again, I can't speak to the particular speaker. What we did in the faculty organization, the academic senate on Monday, was to vote — because Churchill is the person who has been disinvited, what we said was that creates a consequence where we are now concerned about free speech and so...

O'REILLY: OK. Well, I still don't understand why you're only getting one guy in there and not a whole bunch of guys.

Do you know what I'm talking about, Josh? I mean...


O'REILLY: You know, if you've got a crazy guy who comes in and says I want the country to change and I don't care if violence is involved, why just him? Get the Nazis, get the Klan, get the other kooks and then give everybody their free speech shot. What do you think's in play here, Josh?

FAHRNKOPF: Well, I totally agree with you. I think — I have no problem with the man's right to free speech. He should be able to say whatever he wants. But I think that the faculty at Eastern Washington University has a fundamental right to provide both sides, and if they...

O'REILLY: Yes, but I think they do — I think they do provide both sides. I don't think Eastern Washington University is some kind of radical campus like Boulder. I think it's a fairly...

FAHRNKOPF: Absolutely not.

O'REILLY: From all reports — and we've researched it — it's a pretty moderate, you know, place, and the faculty provides both sides in the sense that I don't think the faculty there supports Churchill.

But I'm just wondering, you know, where free speech, Professor, goes over into the realm of destructive speech. You see what I mean, Madam? You're almost rewarding this guy's bad behavior, and he's brought a lot of pain to people who had, you know, loved ones killed on 9/11. Why would you want to pay a man who's done that?

CHANTRILL: I think what we're concerned about — the faculty and the academic senate aren't in charge of the payment issue, so that's something that I really can't speak to. What I can...

O'REILLY: You've got to take that into consideration, though, when you're voting on...

CHANTRILL: I think...

O'REILLY: ... whether somebody should come to campus and get a check.

CHANTRILL: No, you don't. If you care about free speech, you don't take this case by case. You say in all cases, we better be on the side of free speech because that's our obligation to this campus. And Josh is absolutely correct. We had better provide both sides.

O'REILLY: So anybody — no matter how hurtful the speech, Madam, anybody is welcomed at Eastern Washington University? Is that what you're telling me?

CHANTRILL: I'm telling you that at Eastern Washington University, we will provide you with a broad range of perspectives, and I think that's what we're trying to accomplish, not just with Professor Churchill, but with, you know, conservative speakers we've had in the past. We've had a broad range and...

O'REILLY: Have you had anybody on the conservative side as radical or reactionary on the conservative side as Churchill?

CHANTRILL: We — you know, I don't want to do a comparison because I'm not as familiar...

O'REILLY: All right. Give me — give me the most far-out right-wing guy you've had, or gal.

CHANTRILL: I think maybe from the militia of Montana. We had a speaker come in and talk to us a couple years back. We've had Andrew Sullivan come and speak.

O'REILLY: Andrew Sullivan. These are mainstream people.

All right, Johns.

CHANTRILL: Sure. So, I mean, you go forward that way.

O'REILLY: I don't think the president's going to give in to the faculty senate, so I don't think, you know, Churchill's...

CHANTRILL: But it isn't a demand by us that...

O'REILLY: Right. It was symbolic thing. So I don't think you're going to see Churchill up there. Is that OK with the students? What do the students think?

CHANTRILL: Well, I — is that for Josh?

O'REILLY: Yes. Josh's question.

FAHRNKOPF: Well, I know a lot of the students actually do want to see him out there. It is a very welcoming campus and a moderate campus, and we do enjoy all realms, but me personally and a lot of my friends — we do not want to see him out, just for the plain purpose of what he stands for, but, more importantly, the reason why President Jordan disinvited him in the first place, for the safety issue, and...

O'REILLY: Yes, that's what they always say, but you know what the reason was. Do you think that the president's going to relent here, Professor, and Churchill's going to show up?

CHANTRILL; You know, we're in the middle of negotiations — not negotiations, but discussions about this. This is a very democratic process, so we're very fortunate at Eastern to be continuing the conversation. We're going through a series of discussions to look at the formats that are possible, the feasibility of this, what are the safety concerns. et cetera.

O'REILLY: OK. Well, freedom is always a good thing, you know, unless you're Ward Churchill who doesn't like it that much.


We appreciate you guys coming on and helping us out. We'll let everybody know whether Churchill shows up on campus.

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