Monday, April 23, 2007

Campus Echo Stands By Hate Piece

In response to criticism of the decision to publish the violent musings of Solomon Burnette, the editor of the Campus Echo, student newspaper of North Carolina Central University, has printed a disclaimer suggesting that the opinions expressed by the twenty-seven year old University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments Vice Chair do not reflect the views of the newspaper or the University. Rather, the editor stands by the decision to publish the overtly racist hate speech on the basis of First Amendment rights.
Editor's Note:
The opinions expressed below by Mr. Burnette in no way expresses the views of the Campus Echo, its editors, the adviser, or N.C. Central University. They are solely the opinions of the writer.

The Campus Echo has a policy of accepting opinions submissions from NCCU students, faculty, staff and community members and respects their freedom of expression according to the First Amendment.

Prophetically, Eugene Volokh addressed student's First Amendment rights and the fallacy that those rights extend to attempts to incite violence in a recent post at The Volokh Conspiracy.

Public universities are bound by the First Amendment. Thus, both public university students and public university teachers are entitled to some protection from discipline, firing, and other retaliation for their speech. In some areas, this protection is pretty clear and pretty broad. In others, it’s relatively vague. Student speech outside the classroom and outside academic assignments. Most clearly, students generally may not be expelled, suspended, or otherwise disciplined for what they say in student newspapers, at demonstrations, in out-of-class conversations, and the like. The Supreme Court made this clear in Papish v. Board of Curators, 410 U.S. 667 (1973), and Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169 (1972). Lower courts have followed suit, especially in the late 1980s and 1990s cases that have struck down student speech codes. See, e.g., Dambrot v. Central Michigan Univ., 55 F.3d1177 (6th Cir. 1995); Iota Xi v. George Mason Univ., 993 F.2d 386 (4th Cir. 1993); UWM Post v. Univ. of Wisc., 74 F. Supp. 1163 (E.D. Wis. 1991); Doe v. Univ. of Mich., 721 F. Supp. 852 (E.D. Mich. 1989).

Of course, student speech may be restricted if it falls within the narrow categories of speech that’s generally unprotected (e.g., threats of violence, personal face-to-face insults likely to cause a fight, or intentional incitement of imminent and likely unlawful conduct).
It's difficult to imagine that the call for physical violence by Burnette, whose criminal history includes an arrest for punching his mother in the face and convictions on drug, armed robbery of two Duke students, and probation violation charges, would not fall under the narrow categories of unprotected free speech.

By calling for "Death to all rapists" in response to the exoneration of the Nifong/Mangum Hoax defendants, Mr. Burnette clearly exceeds the bounds of free speech with his call for black men, women, and children to fight physically against the white race.

The only deterrent to these legally, socially and economically validated supremacist actions is the fear of physical retribution.

Black men, stand up. Black women, stand up. Black children, stand up. We have been at war here with these same white people for 500 years.

The time to fight, whether intellectually, artistically or physically, has always been now.

It should be noted that today's decision to merely print a disclaimer, rather than pull the call for violence, follows expressions of concern addressed with the campus police and mental health departments in light of the timing relative to the Virginia Tech massacre.

In a note to the NCCU Mental Health Department, one observer wrote:
Dear Dr. Moore,

As a mental health worker in Houston I was alittle taken aback by Mr. Solomon Burnette's op-ed piece in the Echo. In light of Virginia Tech and your own warnings to students (see Echo, NCCU assures students), I would think it prudent to at least check in with Mr. Burnette and see if he is OK. I say this also understanding that he does have some violence in his past.

Thank you
A visiting professor expressed his fear to NCCU Chief of Police, Glenda Beard:
"Dear Chief Beard,

I am the director of a non-profit here in Durham, and I have been a frequent guest professor on your campus. My organization and NCCU are partners in several important projects in science and Digital Libraries. We also have hired several NCCU students as interns.

Given the recent violence at Virginia Tech, and the call to be vigilant, perhaps, and knowing how often I am on your campus, someone sent me a copy of this opinion piece from your campus newspaper, with a note saying I should be careful:

I am concerned this person could be trying to incite violence in Durham, or at NCCU against visitors to your campus.

What do you advise since I am coming on Friday as a guest panelist for the Digital Library meeting?"
One commentator to this blog likened the Campus Echo's decision to that of NBC's in airing the hate manifesto of Seung-Hui Cho.
This guy is seriously disturbed. It was irresponsible to publish his intentionally inflammatory remarks. Giving him a platform to spew his hatred and encourage physical violence is as bad as NBC airing the VT killer's video. Where has responsible journalism gone?
Given the timing, comparisons to Virginia Tech, fair or not, are unavoidable and add another level to the disappointment in the Campus Echo's decisions to publish the work of violence in the first place and to stand by the message of hate after concerns and fears were raised to campus authorities.


HumboldtBlue said...

There is one glaring difference between NBC's airing of Cho's diatribes and this caustic, hateful rant by Burnette.

If NBC had gotten a hold of Cho's videos and pictures BEFORE his murderous rampage it could have been avoided.

Here we have an open and admitted call to violence printed in a newspaper, in other words -- a warning.

Argue as you will about NBC's actions, but the relationship to VT and this "hit" piece is one of apples and oranges.

Those who contacted NCCU authorities rightly expressed their fear regarding Burnette's piece, now the wait is on about what will be done.

With the ever-present fight over speech codes raging on campuses all across the country, it boggles the mind that our supposed bastions of "tolerance" (meaning you can never say anything that may in some way hurt someone else's feelings, as if that is a right guaranteed in our constitution) allow this sort of threatening drivel to be published.

Then again, I boggle easily.

Again, turn the tables. Imagine if you will a white Duke student penning a call to violence for the accused rapists in the other Durham case, where black men have been accused of raping a white woman.

Think Klan references would have been uttered by a few folks?

Either you stand for justice or you do not, the amount of melanin in your skin gives no one the right to incite violence upon another.

OK, down off my moral high gro ... errr .... mole hill, I'm making myself retch.

Ryan said...

I guess I should expect to see a piece in the Duke paper calling for death to African-American women who false accuse wealthy white athletes of rape.

I mean, obviously her false accusation was part of this war that Burnette wants taken to the streets. So clearly white people should be calling for her to be the victim of violence (for real this time).

No one would denounce such a column if it were to appear in the Duke paper, would they?

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Solomon Burnette punches his own mother in the face, has drug convictions, parole violations and armed robbery of two Duke students. Yet his school elects him Vice Chair of its student government. Whereupon he issues a hate-filled rant calling for children to kill people of a different race.

I am too tired and too disgusted to lie about the fact that I am not surprised Burnette is black and so is his university.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the NCCU Muslim Students Association would care to comment?

Comment from a real one.

Anonymous said...

and...according to the Herald Sun, he says he is taking Arabic courses at Duke--what is going on with that????

Anonymous said...

Sonny Boy Burnette should try spouting his crap in "mother" Africa.
Right into prison for this crap.

Anonymous said...

"The time to fight, whether intellectually, artistically or physically, has always been now."

There is no imminent call to action or any imminent threat contained in this article.This is absolutely protected free speech. Only a person with an obvious agenda would consider this a threat or proffer the notion that Solomon Burnette speaks for anyone other than himself.
I consider the Duke lax guys not guilty but they are definitely not innocent.All they did is receive a mere taste of what poor whites and blacks have experienced for years in this corrupt criminal justice system.The only difference is that they had the resources to combat an amoral and unprofessional DA.These guys aren't scarred for life, hell from the looks of this blog they are considered heroes. If you want to draw analogies between this situation and the VT situation, please explain why there is a greater level of vitriol spouted on this blog toward CGM ( a person with a history of mental illness that killed no one) than toward the VT shooter (whose mental illness has apparently mitigated the hatred toward him).

Anonymous said...

Sweetmick says to 11:08 AM, you've got it all wrong when you say Precious is mentally ill. According to Cash Michaels, Mike Nifong, the N&O, old daddy Mangum, etc, our sister survivor is articulate, intelligent, trustworthy, a great mother, a great daughter, a hardworking single parent, blessed with great recall of memory, and anhonor roll student. So she dabbles in sex for $, likes alcohol and drugs, but hey, that doesn't make her crazy now does it? Be kind, sir.
The point about Burnette's rant is that the so called "student" paper should have exhibited intelligence and sound judgment and not printed that tripe. But, obviously, these traits are in short supply on the NCCU campus.
As to the vitriol exhibited towards Precious, you bet your sweet ass you got that right.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't expect anything different from any other convicted felon.

Anonymous said...

I am a NCCU student and I absolutely do not agree with Mr. Burnette's article. I feel his frustrations are misplaced and are not expressed constructively. There is and has been a frustration with the unfairness in America's justice system of not just Americans of African descent but other minorities, poor Americans of European descent, and decent people period. This is a fact. A fact that has been true long before the "Duke 3". This frustration was further exacerbated by the overwhelming outrage by a very vocal and well funded segment of America. A segment that has never raised a voiced concerning the many injustices many Americans have been dealing with for years. And since the case has been dropped this same segment has not uttered a peep about the unfairness others in America are continuing to face. I feel that Mr. Burnette should have gave voice to this frustration many Americans feel.

Anonymous said...

Solomon Burnette seems to be itching for blacks in Durham to make war on the evil whites who he imagines to be plotting against him and all his racial brothers and sisters. Maybe he thought robbing those two Duke students at gunpoint back in 2000 was some kind of justifiable military action in that war. He is no doubt longing for a race war but he should be careful of what he wishes for. If he is successful in getting such a war started he will discover, too late, that he has underestimated his enemy. He is not old enough to know what it's like to attack white people who are willing to fight back. The white folks he has grown up around are the pacified, guilt-ridden type like the Duke faculty members who hate their own race and encourage blacks to do the same. He has never seen a group of white people willing to stand up and fight back, to answer violence with violence, in solidarity with their racial kin. He is delusional if he thinks a war is being fought now. He has no idea. If race war comes to Durham and to America, he and his fellow militants are likely to encounter an enemy very much like the one that presently exists only in their paranoid dreams. This fight is something no sane black would desire.

Solomon Burnette is holding high the banner of racial hatred to rally the many blacks in Durham who share his animus for the white race. That he has not been emphatically denounced by every prominent leader in that troubled city is disgusting. But not surprising.