“An injury to one is an injury to all!” – Industrial Workers of the World
The attacks against the labor movement have shifted from the workplace to the classroom. This past week, a full-frontal assault was launched against two labor professors, Judy Ancel and Don Giljum, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and St. Louis campuses respectively. More information can be read here, here, here and here.
This semester, a “student” took it upon himself to engage in extracurricular activities outside the normal lectures and readings. What this student decided to do was take hours of recorded classroom lectures, then either through himself or another party, edit the videos to distort what was being discussed. The videos were then uploaded to Youtube–Youtube has since banned the videos–with anti-labor and anti-union commentary written about how the professors encourage the use of violence during labor disputes. That message is the furthest thing from the truth because if you watch the unedited video clips here, you will have a chance to hear what the professors say in full context.
Ms. Ancel issued a response, which you can read here. The edited videos have “literally put words” into the professors mouths, with many statements being taken out of context or with no context at all. In some situations, Mr. Giljum’s clothes change mid-sentence.
Since the publication of the videos, both professors Ancel and Giljum have received numerous threats, while students shown in the video are concerned as a result of their privacy rights being violated. I find it ironic that the very same websites denouncing Ms. Ancel’s and Mr. Giljum’s alleged pro-violence stances contain comments encouraging the use of violence against both professors, who in reality chide and condemn it. Rather, they were discussing the history of how violence has been used in labor disputes. Never once did they encourage the use of violence themselves.
The Splice Job
At the center of this attack against academic freedom, education and labor is a man who is no stranger to editing videos to distort the truth for the purposes of pushing his agenda. The name Andrew Breitbart should be familiar to those who have read about ACORN and Shirley Sherrod. Mr. Breitbart has been a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher in the past and has been portrayed as a journalist and commentator. How does deceiving people by making false claims through manipulating videos and reporting it as truth make you a journalist or even a respected commentator? The answer is simple. It doesn’t.
These attacks are not just a violation of academic freedom, but they also violate student privacy rights. Students should not be afraid to share their thoughts and points of view in a classroom setting–that is why we have FERPA legislation. The classroom is a setting that encourages and nourishes intelligent discussion and tolerance. Students should not have to worry about voicing their opinions or having their privacy rights violated; yet, that is exactly what happened when Mr. Breitbart and his associates carried out this hoax.
It is quite clear that these videos were created with the intention of intimidating those who do not share Mr. Breitbart’s anti-labor/anti-union rhetoric. It’s also clear that no tactic, even if it involves being dishonest, is off limits.