Friday, April 24, 2009

Prisoners in Iran and North Korea

It is impossible to understand fully how terrifying it must be for these three women - two in North Korea and one in Iran - to be behind bars in those countries. I hope that they are all proven innocent of all charges and released very quickly.

What surprises me about these cases is not that they have happened, but that a) we are surprised and b) it took so long for these kind of cases to emerge.

Regardless of whether there is any merit to any of the charges, North Korea and Iran are able to use the fact of these incarcerations to their advantage in all matter of negotiations in which they are involved.

I fear we will see more of this whether it results from the fair and equal application of laws that have been violated or simply because people find themselves in a country which chooses to deploy this tactic as a negotiating tool.

In either case, it makes the task of overseas reporting tremendously more challenging and we are likely to see less of that.

Everyone sadly loses in the end, I think.

"Reclaiming America’s Soul" -

I agree wholeheartedly with what KRUGMAN has written.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Iranian court sentences U.S. journalist to 8 years - Los Angeles Times

I would certainly advocate on her behalf and would be delighted to do what I could in her defense.

Similarly, I would surely join those who ask simply that she be released.

That said, how do we know that the charges are unfounded and unproven?

Imagine an Iranian-American arrested in this country on charges of spying. Would the Iranians not be in good order to demand her or his release in a similar fashion, assuming that the charges could not possibly be valid?

I think we need to understand a lot more about this case, and give the Iranian's every opportunity to explain why she was convicted before we jump to conclusions about guilt or innocence or potentially unnecessarily insult the legal system in Iran.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More on the TANCREDO incident....

This story updates the situation.

Here is a further e-mail that I have sent to the UNC Chancellor, along with a longer version of his statement in response to the incident:

"Dear Chancellor,

I wrote to you last evening after reading what your news office sent me as your statement following this incident. What you have included here appears to be a longer version.

While I find it somewhat better than the initial statement, I find several elements missing.

One, is a clear restatement of position - not the position of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill but the position of our cherished system of freedom of expression embodied in the First Amendment and interpreted by so many courts since then - that each of us has the right to speak as we choose and that no voice should be suppressed because it is out of a multitude of such voices that the truth and good judgment emerge. It is too bad that there is a need to restate this idea to a university community, but that clearly appears necessary and nothing is to be lost by doing so. You should do so very clearly and quickly.

Second, I take it from coverage that I saw this evening on MSNBC that included Mr. TANCREDO, that UNC teaching staff may have participated in the effort to suppress Mr. TANCREDO's speech. I find this quite concerning, if true, and I believe that these people - if proven to be the case - along with students should be subject to the severest disciplinary action. If any laws were violated, of course, criminal prosecutions should be undertaken by state or federal authorities, as appropriate, but that is not your decision to make.

Third, as Chris MATTHEWS noted in that MSNBC segment that included apparent video from the TANCREDO event, it is seemingly evident that those involved have not received an education that I would have expected all to have had before entering UNC in any capacity. With that education clearly needed, I hope you will institute a requirement that every UNC student and all teaching staff enroll in either a course on our system of freedom of expression or attend an intensive multi-day program focused on the same subject. I'd be happy to volunteer to help organize and lead such a program as you will see from my earlier note that I have the real world experience that may be uniquely suited to meeting this need. I'll not burden this e-mail with a bio, but if you want one, I'll be happy to send it along. That's not the point; the point is that you need to announce a proactive plan to insure that students and teachers - all of them - know and understand the importance of seeking all points of view and insuring that all can be, and are, heard.

As it stands, you lead a university with a huge black eye. An approach as I have outlined it will mean not only that the eye heals more quickly, but that it's both a better eye and far less likely to suffer a shiner in the future.



-----Original Message-----
From: FYI Carolina Online []
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 5:56 PM
To: Carolina Alumni and Friends
Subject: Message from the Chancellor: Free Speech at Carolina

Dear Carolina alumni and friends,

Many of you have heard or read about a protest on campus Monday night, and I'm writing to share with you the message I sent yesterday to our campus community. I think you will find that the message speaks for itself. But if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.


Holden Thorp, Chancellor


Message from the Chancellor: Free Speech at Carolina (April 15, 2009)

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

I want to express how disappointed I am in what happened last night when former Congressman Tom Tancredo wasn't able to speak when a protest got out of hand, and our Department of Public Safety had to take action. Congressman Tancredo felt threatened and left without making his remarks.

Mr. Tancredo was scheduled to speak about immigration. We expect protests about controversial subjects at Carolina. That's part of our culture. But we also pride ourselves on being a place where all points of view can be expressed and heard. There's a way to protest that respects free speech and allows people with opposing views to be heard. Here that's often meant that groups protesting a speaker have displayed signs or banners, silently expressing their opinions while the speaker had his or her say. That didn't happen last night.

On behalf of our University community, I called Mr. Tancredo today to apologize for how he was treated. In addition, our Department of Public Safety is investigating this incident. They will pursue criminal charges if any are warranted. Our Division of Student Affairs is also investigating student involvement in the protest. If that investigation determines sufficient evidence, participating students could face Honor Court proceedings.

Carolina's tradition of free speech is a fundamental part of what has made this place special for more than 200 years. Let's recommit ourselves to that ideal.


Holden Thorp"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"UNC protest grows unruly at Tancred..." - Herald-Sun

I just sent this e-mail to the UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor:

"Dear Chancellor,

We have not met.

My wife and I have called Chapel Hill home for 10 years.

We have no connection to UNC.

I have spent my continuing career covering more than 35 years defending and advocating freedom of expression here and abroad. Over a nearly 20 year period, I served as general counsel to all of the major newspaper publisher trade associations in the US, Europe and globally.

When I graduated from Brown in 1969, we chose to express our opposition to the Vietnam War when Henry KISSINGER received an honorary degree. Not a sound was heard, but we made our point. A large percentage of my classmates and I simply rose from our seats and silently turned our backs. Nothing was interrupted and we made the point that we chose to make at the time.

From what I have read of what transpired at UNC last night when Mr. TANCREDO was to speak, I find appalling the decision of some number of students to oppose speech with which they disagree by attempting to silence it – and apparently succeeding. In our system of freedom of expression, there is no place for that, least of all on a university campus like UNC.

Bad speech, if one thinks it so, is best answered by good speech. It sounds to me that Mr. TANCREDO was prepared to hear other points of view, but never got a chance.

Instead, he got very bad manners.

I write this to you because I asked your news office to give me a copy of your statement and they have now sent me Roger PERRY’s as well. I find his far better than yours. You fail to embrace the core issue of freedom of expression and it is clear to me that those who have taught the offending students either at UNC or earlier in their young lives, failed to explain this to them. Surely, no one worthy of a UNC education could be expected to choose otherwise.

Let me reiterate…. I fully support the expression of all points of view, and have spent decades defending some of the most unsavory ideas and people imaginable, all with the firm belief that better ideas will win out over them. I probably agree with many of the views likely to be expressed by the students whose actions ended TANCREDO’s speech.

But I cannot tolerate as an NC resident, and I do not believe that you should tolerate as UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor, this kind of conduct. Instead, the offending students should be subject to public rebuke, and disciplinary action. Let them speak out in opposition to that if they choose, but appropriate punishment is merited, it should come from you, it should be meaningful, and it should be public.

Thanks for considering my views,


Live Piracy Report

They don't seem able to keep up to date with all of them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Showcase of best North Carolina journalism in real time?

Where can someone interested in seeing what difference NC newspapers made today, for example, in their reporting to their readers.....where can that interested person see examples? I don't know of any such place.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

"Detention at Afghan Base Is Subject to U.S. Courts" -

I continue to believe that anyone taken into US custody anywhere in the world for any reason should be subject to all of the safeguards - all - that he or she would enjoy if taken into custody in the US for the same reason and with the same charge. How the law carves out different treatment continues to baffle me, but if the law ultimately proves to support fewer rights to those "arrested" overseas, then I believe we should change the law.

We cannot expect to be respected by the world for the quality of our criminal justice system if we operate it with two settings - one for here in the US and one for overseas. Rights are rights, and they should not depend on the ground on which someone stands, sits or lies.

In the face of the law, everyone should be equal and there is no place for some being more equal than others.

"The Orphans of Ireland" - Timothy Egan Blog -