“The Controversy Continues” & Larry Shore – Part 1

[Editor’s Note – What follows was an unpublished blog sitting on the back burner for a few years. I decided today would be a good day to publish. Most of the comments by Colleague Larry Shore are malarkey and stuff he has made up or twisted. I will respond point by point in the near future.]

The headline is a reference to a comment several years ago by Colleague Peter Parisi about angst, anger and frustration directed at the WORD by ersatz student activists known as SLAM – the Student Liberation Action Movement – because they couldn’t control the publication despite clandestine, sympathetic and sometimes clandestine support from certain Colleagues in the Department of Film and Media Studies.

My stomach tightened when Parisi made the comment. I, ambivalent, relaxed somewhat when he also said, and this is a recollection despite the quote marks for effect, “That’s good,” meaning the controversy attracted a lot of attention. Of course, Parisi didn’t ask me how I felt about the “controversy.”

I am publishing below Larry Shore’s email to me without comment. That will  come later, yet, I have to say this. One, I would have coffee with the Colleague identified below only if I was accompanied by an entourage of Ninjas. Two, the lies and deceit threaten to overpower my peace of mind.

larryshore-headshot

Date: Tue Mar 13 12:52:01 EDT 2012
From: Larry Shore
Subject: Fwd: Response to Buddy’s posting
To: Gregg Morris

Dear Gregg
I sent this out to FM full time faculty but I am sending it to you privately because I wanted to include a cover paragraph.

Gregg- I do not seek a confrontation with you and I would be happy to go quietly into the summer.

You are entitled to your views. I encourage you to express them openly like we all are allowed to do at faculty meetings. But as long as you continue to publicly attack your colleagues in the FM dept. in a personal, inaccurate and reputation damaging manner, using all media available, I will challenge you in whatever forum. Others will as well.

It is intolerable that you now are using the WORD to personally attack your colleagues. It has nothing to do with the work of a quality publication. My views are expressed in detail in the e-mailing below.

I would be happy to meet for a cup of coffee if there was a way to move forward.

yours sincerely

Larry
____

Dear Buddy
I would like to respond to your e-mail about the recent WORD publication about our department. I feel a response is required before the faculty meeting because in my view your comments shape the issue incorrectly.

With all due respect, I think you are focusing on the wrong thing. The issue of Tami being a public figure etc. is worthy of further discussion but it is not what should be the primary focus. We should first focus on the first two paragraphs in the recent Word Blog post.

http://blog.hunterword.com/2012/03/06/attention-professional-staff-congress-president-barbara-bowen/

“Department of Film and Media Studies Colleagues & Staff have been using and trying to use the Hunter College Violence in the Workplace Committee and Hunter College Security to stifle dissent, intimidate Colleagues & Staff who don’t share their values and opinions.

A perversion of Academy decorum took pace February 8 when Hunter Security was called to remove a staff member from the first faculty meeting of the semester because A Colleague of ill Repute didn’t want the staff member speaking at the meeting.”

These statements are incorrect, a serious misrepresentation of the facts, but most of all extremely damaging to our reputations as individuals and a department. This is being posted on a public forum, i.e. not just within Hunter College but broadcast to the world. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be referred to as someone who ‘stifles dissent and intimidates others.’ I, like all of us, have spent a major part of our lives building the good reputation of our department and I find it intolerable that we should sit back and accept these misrepresentations.

We all know that Prof. Morris is referring to what is supposed to be the confidential investigation by Hunter’s lawyers of his altercation with Prof. Roman, the chair, at a faculty meeting. This is the event that most of us were called to testify about. How we are supposedly using the Violence in the Workplace Committee to stifle dissent is beyond me.

Similarly, all of us who were at the last faculty meeting know that the second paragraph quoted is completely incorrect. Faculty meetings are only open to staff at the invitation of the chair. For obvious reasons none of the staff were invited – not Rashaan, not Peter or Sha Sha. Rashaan had seated himself before the meeting. The chair told him staff were not invited. He refused to leave. Security was called.

Gregg’s statements make us look terrible. It is not about some abstract issue. It accuses the Film and Media Studies department of acting like thugs. It accuses our chair of being a character of “Ill Repute” !

If you were a student, or a parent thinking about your child coming to Hunter College and studying in our department, and you saw this – what would you think ? This kind of stuff, just a Google search away, in a competitive environment, is very damaging to our reputation and could effect potential enrollments. Including I might add, enrollments for the new journalism program.

It is in my view not protected speech. It is libel. Here is a basic definition of libel – “a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation.” if this doesn’t apply what does?

In addition, I believe you also err when you propose that The WORD has the same full robust First Amendment protections that would be given to say the New York Times. If The WORD was a totally independent publication like the New York Times it would have those rights. But it is a publication bearing the department and college’s name and imprimatur. It uses students from our classes. It is listed on our Department website.

Any suggestion that a small department/organization does not have the right to regulate some speech would not in my view hold constitutional muster. It cannot regulate opinions but it has an inherent interest, in its mission, to promote things like a safe and comfortable environment, certain rules of civil conduct between faculty members, an open climate for free discussion etc. The right to use a department listed publication to personally attack and damage the reputation of colleagues in a public work environment is not protected.

Up until now there seemed to be a clear understanding that Gregg as publisher of The WORD would refrain from publishing anything about the faculty and internal department matters including confidential faculty meeting deliberations. He has now stepped over a line. It is intolerable to accept that a faculty member could publish this kind of stuff on a regular basis. No decent academic department can function under conditions of intimidation where faculty are reluctant to speak at faculty meetings because they might be publicly attacked by a department affiliated publication.

Gregg has a full right to publish his views but he has no right to maliciously attack colleagues.

I also want to remind you that Gregg is not just a reporter writing about a police chief – he is the publisher of The WORD and it is impossible to reply. It is not an open forum like Hunter-L.

I would like to remind you of the important constitutional principle that “the constitution is not a suicide pact.”

Similarly is Gregg’s post on The WORD’s Facebook site, which I sent around yesterday, where he approves a student saying “light the match and burn everything down” and the “Ides of March” is upon Jay and Jay is the only one in focus on a photograph – Is that protected speech ?

So with this background, lets briefly return to the issue of Tami’s mention- yes as an elected union representative she is open to a certain type of criticism but at the same time being an elected representative does not mean that it is acceptable for you to be a regular target of malicious attacks in whatever media are available.

You can disagree or agree with Tami but that doesn’t mean that when she posts something about a union event or action she has to expect not just to be criticized but personally attacked in a manner where there is an obvious effort to damage her reputation.

In this climate people might choose to not undertake things like being a union representative. Yes Tami is open to legitimate criticism but it has to be seen within its context. Gregg has for years used every medium available to malign Tami and others and try to damage their reputations. Vigorous criticism on an issue is fine but that is not the same as this kind of attack with all its damaging implications. There is an obvious difference.

All of us believe that Gregg is entitled to his views and should bring them up at faculty meetings or internal e-mails like the rest of us who play by the rules. What is intolerable is that these statements are going out into the world unchallenged.

There is obvious further discussion needed, but I wanted to get this response out soon enough before the faculty meeting.

Best wishes

Larry

The Usual Colleagues

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