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“Will no one rid me of this troublesome professor?” (Paraphrasing King Henry II on Thomas Becket.)
Fifty years ago, the legislature brought shame on North Carolina, dishonor on themselves and harm to UNC when the honorables passed the Speaker Ban Law to protect college students from a feared invasion of pro-Communist speakers. Eventually, wiser heads prevailed, the law was repealed and the Communists lost.
Now, Raleigh’s Republican regime appears determined to purge the university of the troublesome voice of Gene Nichol, a UNC-Chapel Hill law professor.
Nichols committed the grave sin of criticizing Governor McCrory in a column, calling him “hapless Pat” and “a 21st century successor to Maddox, Wallace and Faubus.” The hapless-Pat line is pretty good, even though the comparison to the trio of Southern segregationist governors is a stretch.
But McCrory, again demonstrating the rabbit-eared sensitivity that hears a critical squeak uttered in any corner of the political arena, can’t take it. He was almost as upset as the time when the grocery store chef mouthed off at him.  Even though he was in Mississippi for a meeting, the Governor called a political ally on the UNC Board of Governors to complain.
A flurry of emails and phone calls ensued, as Jane Stancill reveals in her excellent N&O story. So now Nichol puts a disclaimer on his writings that “he doesn’t speak for UNC.” No more, one assumes, than Obama-hater Chris Conover speaks for Duke University when he appears before legislative committees to denounce the Affordable Care Act.
Clearly, Republican operatives are out for Nichols’ head. They won’t be satisfied until he is banished from the University and an example is made of him for any other pointy-headed professors who have the audacity to speak out against the powers-that-be in Raleigh.
You would think that someone in the Republican Party might realize how damaging this will be to a UNC system already battered by budget cuts and cheap political shots, to a state whose “brand” (if you will) was built on a great university and – yes – to their own personal reputations.
Ask Henry II. History is not kind to those who seek to silence the voices of dissent.
Plus, it doesn’t work. The victims become martyrs. And more people pay attention to them.


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3 comments on “Son of Speaker Ban

  1. Anonymous says:

    So, Nichols ought to be able to say whatever the heck he wants. But, he is a nutjob — this is the guy who, when he was briefly the President of William & Mary, decided that the cross in the chapel ought to be removed. He is an ultra-liberal academic of the highest order, immersed in the academy but completely out of touch with the real world. And, such people ought not to hold powers of authority anywhere, least of all teaching impressionable college students.

  2. Anonymous says:

    By you saying that Nichol calling the governor of a state “a 21st century successor to Maddox, Wallace and Faubus” is a stretch, you obviously don’t think that it was really all that bad. We’re talking about a man teaching our children, Gary. We’re talking about someone that the students look up to and will want to emulate. A “stretch”? Might be some truth to it but maybe there’s some mis-truths to it too? Really? I’m getting madder as I write this. That statement was absolutely and totally out of line and there is absolutely NO comparing McCrory with these people. I know you progressive/liberals want to do anything and everything you can to convince people that republicans are all just a bunch of mean, rich, powerful white people out to get minorities….but, even though you want the low information people in your party to believe that…YOU don’t believe that, Gary.

    I don’t even want an answer from you on this question. I know the truth and so do you but you’d NEVER say it. Question: What if a University Professor made a similar remark against a democratic sitting governor of North Carolina? What would be your response? Again….you and I know the truthful answer to this. You, Gary, and it seems the vast majority of the people in your party and that are leading your party thrive on being disingenuous.

    A “stretch”. Really? What a flippin’ joke!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn’t cry too much for Nichols, when a Dem has a run in with a Republican Gov, some phone calls are made, and nothing happens, when a Repub runs in with a Dem, the IRS is notified and prison is in his future.

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