FIRE files four free speech suits, one supporting faculty muckraking blog

This is good news, just in time to celebrate the 4th of July:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a.k.a. theFIRE.org, has just announced a major new legal initiative. In the past FIRE has worked as an advocacy group, and co-ordinated free speech lawsuits on behalf of students and faculty. Now they have some serious new funding and have hired “preeminent First Amendment attorney Robert Corn-Revere of the national law firm Davis Wright Tremaine as counsel for students and faculty members participating in the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.” Pursuing a lawsuit can take up a lot of time and money that people may not have, especially students, however, you can get lawsuit funding for your case within a short period of time if it is needed right away, from companies like Legal-Bay Lawsuit Funding, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I’ve had a few talks with FIRE and with a DWT lawyer over what I saw as attempts by UO and the UO Foundation to harass and retaliate against me for this blog. (For example, UO F, and UO.) The DWT lawyer spent several hours with me on the phone, and more on email. I asked what the bill was, and he laughed and said “nothing – this is a really interesting one, and these people are hilarious.”

These people are passionate about the importance of free speech in academia, and from what I can tell they know the law cold. And now they’ve got money, too. Today FIRE started off by filing four free-speech lawsuits, and they say more are coming. The most interesting case, from my perspective, is this:

At Chicago State University, administrators have repeatedly attempted to silence CSU Faculty Voice, a blog authored by Professors Phillip Beverly, Robert Bionaz, and other faculty members that exposes what they see as administrative corruption. After bogus accusations of trademark infringement failed to intimidate the professors, CSU hastily adopted a far-reaching cyberbullying policy to silence its critics. It then used the cyberbullying policy to investigate one of the faculty bloggers for harassment, leading to today’s lawsuit from Beverly and Bionaz.

The full complaint is here:

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11 Responses to FIRE files four free speech suits, one supporting faculty muckraking blog

  1. Pollyanna says:

    JH has always had the means and the opportunity to shut down UOMatters: stop hiding everything. Stop making major decisions behind closed doors. Stop making secret sweetheart deals and then roaring in outrage when they come out. Stop making it necessary to file information requests for every damned piece of information. Stop making redaction the default mode of university communication. Stop it. Just stop it.

    Drown us in information. Be profligate with it, throw it around, wear it like a badge of honor. Communicate it, communicate about it, consult and debate about it. UO Matters will then go away–happily, I bet.

    Means and opportunity, they’ve got. But apparently not motive. So instead of earning trust and respect, they keep sniping at the messenger who’s letting them know that they are not trusted or respected.

    • Pollyanna's Friend says:

      says: Bingo!

      • Gott Gutts? says:

        Yes! I am so tired of the paternalistic bullshit – proverbial pats on the head and being told the adults have it all handled. Clearly, that isn’t so. Let’s stop pretending.

        I’m afraid, though, this will never happen. It’s all about PR flacks and brand now – not solving real problems.

  2. hmmm. says:

    This warms my heart.

  3. anonymous says:

    Rumor has it that they blame UOMatters for ruining administrator careers, for alienating major donors, etc.

    Perhaps if they really believe this, they should go ahead and try out their defamation suit (the Foundation, I mean). It would be interesting to see them get tangled up with FIRE (which, I am told, has had dealings with UO before).

    Or they could just denounce UOM from Johnson Hall, and see where the leaves fall.

    • uomatters says:

      I’ve heard those rumors too. If you’ve got any specifics, please email me, uomatters at gmail.

      • anonymous says:

        Actually, what I’ve posted is about all I know. If I think of anything more specific, will let you know.

    • Dog says:

      once there was a time where everything could be blamed on Nixon

      then everything was blamed on El Nino

      Now everything is blamed on UOmatters

      man, that’s some pressure …

    • OK says:

      Martinez left because of UO Matters. I think lawyers are too busy to take on a defamation suit that wouldn’t accomplish much in the long run. Even if found guilty I doubt he would be fired, so there is no point in taking him to court.

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