Talk:Foundation for Individual Rights in Education/archive1

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"A recent survey?" What survey?

Added a link for the survey mentioned in the article. (It's [1], for reference.) --Dachannien 13:20, 27 August 2005 (UTC)


FIRE and left/right (and POV)[edit]

May 9th changes:

Deleted portion to old reference 16 because the link was dead. Please reinsert if a citable reference can be found.

Added to FIRE's political affiliation the fact that the current president is a liberal.


I'm not sure whether or not to categorize FIRE as a left or right wing organization. My guess is that FIRE is "right wing" in the same way as the ACLU is "left wing". i.e., supporters of FIRE and the ACLU are usually (though not always) to be found on the right and left respectively, but at the same time, both groups maintain neutrality w/r/t poltical candidates.

There are certaintly criticisms to be levelled at FIRE, however this is wikipedia, and all criticisms need to be sourced. Sdedeo 02:27, 28 October 2005 (UTC)


As someone who has followed FIRE's work closely for many years, I can assure you that it is a very conservative organization. There is no article I can cite--they are a small organization and not much has been written about them, except by their friends--I can only tell you from my knowledge of their work and personal experience with them (one of the founders managed to say "God bless Jerry Falwell," and "God bless Phyllis Schlafly" in the course of a two minute phone conversation). The trouble with saying that it is "neutral" to include only the organization's own (unsourced!) description of itself and then insisting that criticisms by others must be sourced should be obvious. The key to this group's strategy is that it appears neutral and even progressive to the casual observer. It is important that people understand that, or they are watching with a dangerously uncritical eye. Much like Bill O'Reilly's claim to provide a "No Spin Zone," there is a huge problem with taking the claims of the group at face value. It is not lacking in neutrality to comment that the group is conservative, any more than it is to state that the group is moderate. Everyone has a point of view, and the original poster (the group itself) certainly did too. --User:LTC 21:43, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

LTC, your mass deletions of verified, NPOV and factual material from the article are unacceptable, and I have restored them. Personal knowledge of FIRE and rumors of phone conversations is not acceptable for a wikipedia article. A cornerstone of Wikipedia is that things must be both verifiable and sourced. I have kept material that you added that has been sourced. In cases where you are talking about FIRE's actions against anti-discrimination and anti-harassment cases, you must provide references to actual cases, as in the rest of the article (we already reference one sexual-assault-related case, when FIRE joined the ACLU against Columbia University.) Sdedeo 07:10, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

Also, LTC, you should create a real account (simply writing "User:LTC" does not actually make you that user, and you are still listed as an anonyomous IP address.) Once you have registered an account, you may sign your name easily with four ~s. Sdedeo 07:16, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
I just noticed that the two sources you cite to establish that FIRE has been criticized as "stealth conservative" are both invalid. The SAFER group report you list I was unable to find on their website safercampus.org, and indeed, there is no mention at all of the group FIRE on their site. The book from Duke University you cite (The Myth of Political Correctness) was published in 1995. FIRE was founded around 1999, so it is impossible that that book could actually refer to FIRE. Again, Wikipedia articles cannot do original research or draw their own conclusions: they must only report on what other people have said; only if there is a verifiable and sourced accusation against FIRE can it be reported. Wikipedia is not the place for original journalism. Sdedeo 07:24, 29 October 2005 (UTC)



Yes, a right-wing group is going out of it's way to defend anti-military recruitment protesters. Sure. Uh huh. [2] Rogue 9 01:44, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

More on SAFER etc.[edit]

Hi LTC. I will put my comments in between yours indented like this.

k, Sdedeo, I work closely with SAFER and would be happy to provide you with the Backlash essays, though it might take a while for me to dig it up out of the archives from 2000. Do you want them? They also have a manual available that talks about FIRE, which is easier to get. You might also try Columbia Spectator archives... I believe there are several articles by Sarah Richardson, Jeff Senter, and Kaja Tretjak about FIRE and its background, sourcing the Backlash materials.

Yes, we need them. If you can provide a weblink to someplace where they are hosted on line, that would be what we need.

Also, the Wilson book does not refer to FIRE, but to Harvey Silverglate and Alan Kors, the founders of FIRE. You can probably find info about Wilson debating Kors somewhere if you google it.

OK, very good. What does the book say about Silverglate and Kors?

There is a major problem with just including FIRE's own description of its work, which is what this 'information' is. It's cut right from their own materials! If people want a flattering depiction of the group, they can go to the website and read it there. That is why I cut their descriptions of their work. Because the way they are described is subjective and manipulative, which is what Wiki is trying to avoid with the whole sourcing thing, right? If you research the work FIRE has done you will see that these case descriptions are extremely manipulative, and are in fact often so manipulative as to be false. For example, FIRE will include information on certain cases and not others. That is simple manipulation. But when you look at the cases they include, if you research them, you will see that they often describe the facts of a case manipulatively: "we defended a confirmed socialist," when that fact has nothing to do with the issue at stake, or inaccurately: "students were harassed for hanging American flags," when students from the school will report that no such incident took place.

The article does indeed quote from FIRE's PR. Every time it does so, it puts the information in quotes and says "according to FIRE, 'blah'." This is how it has to be done. It would be contrary to wikipedia practice in all other articles to do otherwise. Even when you have, say, a white supremacist group, the article says "According to 'White Power Inc.', their stated goals are to "defend America."" If you have disagreements with the description of particular cases, definitely provide sources for criticism, and we will include them

To include manipulative information is a political decision.

Wikipedia isn't truly informative if it's possible for highly biased sources to be quoted with no notes about who they are. The National Review as a source, with no information about what kind of source it is in the article (available through a link doesn't count!)? Problematic. The group itself, unsourced? Very problematic.

Again, anything contentious that is taken from FIRE's PR is sourced as such. In the opening paragraph, the information about the founders is explicitly sourced to the National Review. You may not like the NR, that is fine. Wikipedia is not supposed to pass judgement on these sorts of things. Look, I don't like NR either, and when I see them used as a source I take the info with a grain of salt. That's how it should be.

When it comes to 'original journalism,' there is also the issue, of course, of where control of the media lies. That's another issue, but it is relevant to how informative it is possible for Wikipedia to be. Where you're drawing your lines is fairly arbitrary.

Not really. "Original journalism" here would mean, for example, including information about a phone call that you made yourself and whose details are not published in any other media source. Again, the issue here is sources: wikipedia needs them.

I take major issue with comparing FIRE to the ACLU. These groups are COMPLETELY different, and it gives FIRE a lot of legitimacy to compare them to a very old, very respected organization. Why are they completely different? Because the ACLU is a LEGAL organization that takes precedent-setting cases, whereas FIRE is a MEDIA organization that focuses on cases it can get into the media. It is generally not concerned with precedent, or even winning its cases. FIRE often takes cases with no merit; cases that it expects to lose. In addition, the ACLU holds to clearly articulated beliefs about constitutional law. FIRE has no such standards. It is focused on how cases will play in the court of public opinion.

That is a value judgement. The comparison of FIRE to the ACLU is only in as much as they both claim not to have stated political bias, both claim to handle civil liberties cases, etc. etc. If you can provide a link to a source that says, for example, that FIRE doesn't care about winning its cases, then definitely provide it.

I could write a book about the stuff I've learned about groups like FIRE, the Center for Individual Rights, etc. trying to compare themselves to the ACLU and infiltrate local ACLU groups. By comparing FIRE to the ACLU you are handing them a major victory when some intern at CNN checks their Wiki entry for info before putting them on.

Nobody is "handing" any victories to anybody. Please do write a book about your experiences, or at least a news article. Then it can be cited in the FIRE article (presuming it is published by an independent source, and is not just on a geocities homepage.) Again, wikipedia is not the place for this kind of thing to first appear.

(That's also why Harvey's disingenuous portrayal of himself as "left-wing" is flawed. He'll tell you a million zillion times about how he defended the black panthers once in the 60s, and how he was a member of the ACLU. But what has he done since the 60s? And does it even matter what the National Review says about him, if Thor is good buddies with the editors and can have them say whatever he wants?)

I don't know much about Silverglate. Again, at the risk of being repetitive, please find an article criticizing Silverglate's "left wing cred" and it, and information in it, will be immediately placed in the article.

You seem very well-meaning and thoughtful, but I think it would be the right thing to do if you did some research before assuming you know where this group is coming from. Once you even make it a debatable issue that they are conservative, they win! That is their whole strategy. The progressive groups they attack are then stuck trying to explain to well-meaning liberals and journalists with the attention span of a gnat how this group isn't really concerned with civil liberties, that actually it is conservative, etc., while FIRE gets to slam away at progressives, all the while claiming that they are fighting for progressive values. Progressives should at least have a fair fight, where everyone is clear on what the groups involved stand for.

LTC, all this is fine. But I think in this exchange I've done my best to be clear about what wikipedia does, and how it has to function. Again, everything you are saying could very well be included in the article as long as the information appears, attributed, to a source outside wikipedia. I am sorry, but this is how it has to go. Let me put it another way: you are going about this the wrong way. You should write an article for a newspaper or magazine (it doesn't have to be the Village Voice, it can be a local independent or student newspaper.) Once that happens, claims the article makes can appear in the FIRE article (indeed, I will include them myself.)

It's not really your fault--it's a huge problem with the current model of 'neutrality' and the state of the media that people who are willing to lie usually get to frame the debate. LTC 03:03, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

I am very glad this debate has remained civil. Really I hope you can see this is about the need to provide independent secondary/primary sources. To put it another way, FIRE has put "its side" out there; it's up to FIRE's critics to put theirs out there. Wikipedia can then deal with it. I don't think the world would be a better place if everyone followed "wikipedia rules", but this is how wikipedia works, call it crazy. Yours, Sdedeo 20:24, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

I'd like to suggest that it is very bizarre that someone who considers themselves 'left wing' should think it 'right wing' to support free speech. The left, in the past at least, were associated with campaignings that freed people from censorship and allowed them maximum freedom of speech. Now it is, in fact, the 'so called' left that is most associated with censorship, which, it seems to me, is an inversion of the historic role of the left. Personally I have given up on the terms 'left' and 'right' and will support anyone who campaigns against censorship and for my rights as an autonous and free human being who does not need protecting by censoring authorities. If 'LTC' chooses to become involved in pedantic discussions about who is 'left' and who is 'right' it seems to me this is because of unwillingness to engage in a meaningful discussion about what it means to be a progressive today. Does it mean, LTC, allowing the authorities to determine what you think, see, hear & say or does it mean trying to resist, under any banner, attempts to control what we think, see, hear & say. Does it not also bother you to be claiming to be essentially 'left', whilst at the same time seeming to side with those who would limit our freedom e.g. stop worrying about who funds FIRE, what their past allegiances were etc and get on with the job of defending free speech!Steve uk


Second Round of Editing[edit]

Steve, all I care to say is that the word "censorship" implies that someone with power is somehow harming someone with less power because of what they are expressing.

Sdedeo, a technical question: it is acceptable to quote print sources when they are not available online, right? Or can I only cite work that is online and free? For example, there is a great academic article I know of, but it isn't online...

It's much more preferable to cite online sources, just because then there's no argument with anybody who might swing through. But if something's only offline, then there's no choice. In general, quoting directly from an offline source is the best, since then there's no argument about interpretation. I don't think I've ever cited an offline source just because of these problems, but people who work on less "hot topic" articles do it a lot.

And I'm totally starting that book. Been meaning to for a few years now. Unfortunately it will take a while :)

The Columbia case alone seems very interesting. The only (and I mean only -- I've been googling pretty hard) material out there is on FIRE's side. Even the Village Voice's coverage is all by Nat Hentoff. "The other side" of the story is missing in the media.

I still see a huge problem for Wiki--the same one that exists in mainstream journalism. Someone can make a totally off-the-wall claim, and if the claim is amorphous enough, they've framed the debate. For example, if someone says "Members of racial group X are lazy," they win the argument just by gaining your engagement with their argument. Then the argument is about whether said racial group is lazy, and the burden is put on opponents to "disprove" something that was never proven. The Wiki entry, news article or report, etc. in its effort to be "neutral," says, "This group says racial group X is lazy, that group says they aren't. It's very controversial." The meritless idea still got out there, and gained legitimacy.

Well, I certatinly won't argue that the wiki model has problems. I think of it as a game, essentially. By the way, take Samuel Huntington and Mexicans, for example, which is indeed pretty much a case of someone saying "racial group X is lazy" -- here is how wikipedia covers it: [3]. Personally, I think that's pretty good, although I would greatly prefer it if someone put in a link to an article criticizing Huntington's thesis. That way a reader could then click on the link and get a much more in depth critique of Huntington's argument.

That idea is even more dangerous if the news article says that the group claiming that racial group X is lazy also claims that they promote racial equality. Then Mr. Well-Meaning Moderate reads the article and says, "wow, I guess it really must be controversial. Maybe racial group X IS lazy. Especially if a group that says it is working for equality says so." Liars are privileged in a system where any claim can be made with impunity, and it is the responsibility of the journalist (or Wikipedia enterer), not the reader, to determine the truth of claims and the biases of sources.

In general, wikipedia puts a lot of trust in the reader to draw her own conclusions; it doesn't hand-hold (which is why I think wikipedia can be a great school resource, but really only for advanced students.) I certaintly wouldn't want an op-ed page to follow wikipedia rules, but on the other hand, the way wikipedia is set up now, it can be an invaluable resource for op-ed writers.

At some point, someone needs to make a judgement call about whether something is TRUE. I know that's an impossible demand, but we need to admit that everyone has a point of view and give up this concept of neutrality. It is an illusion.

Well, this is easier in science, although even there there wikipedia never says "theory X is true"; at best it will say "theory X is believed by the vast majority of scientists in the field." Again, wikipedia really relies upon the reader to draw her own conclusions. I'm certaintly not a relativist (actually, I'm a scientist), but this is the best we can do. For example, wikipedia doesn't say "the Discovery Institute a stealth fundamentalist Christian organization". But it will mention prominently the existence of the wedge strategy memo, and will have lots of information on it. It's up to journalists and citizens to read wikipedia and draw their own conclusions on the more "value judgement" type things.

Also, I'm taking out the note that FIRE "joined with the ACLU" at Columbia. This is an example of a claim made with no facts to back it up. The organization may claim it joined with the ACLU, but that doesn't make it true. It is verifiable that the ACLU at Columbia at that time consisted of three guys FIRE recruited. They didn't "join together," because Jaime Sneider, Karl and David (last names escape me) were all recruited by FIRE and created an ACLU chapter for the specific purpose of gaining legitimacy to criticize the policy. Jaime and Karl were from the Columbia Conservatives Club. They felt their criticism would be perceived as biased if they were seen as conservative. FIRE encouraged them to start an ACLU chapter to avoid this. The only other thing I can think they might be referring to is (ACLU leader) Norman Siegel's statement againt the policy, which he later retracted.

Thanks for clearing that up. I was mistaken, and thought that the NYACLU had gotten involved. That a campus chapter of the ACLU got involved is not worth mentioning, it represents no "official" stance. (Your info is very interesting, by the way -- is there a news article about this that we can cite? If someone is suggesting that FIRE is 'astroturfing' campuses, then that should be included.)
All the best, Sdedeo 02:20, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Just another update -- I looked through Silverglate's publication list, and couldn't find anything he wrote that opposed affirmative action (I may certaintly have missed it, it's a long list of pubs -- please point me to an article if I missed it.) He does support the right of people to protest affirmative action, but that's a different thing. I also shifted some of the language: not all liberals support "hate speech" legislation (the ACLU is full of liberals, who presumably supported the ACLU in Virginia v. Black). Finally, I think perhaps the most serious evidence of Silverglate's leanings on the conservative side is his nutty stuff on Clinton from the 90s, and I've included that. Sdedeo 02:40, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Final tweak -- I haven't found any evidence that Silverglate is a libertarian in the usual sense; for example, there's no evidence that he takes any of the usual libertarian positions when it comes to economics and the free market. So I've taken that out (one could certaintly say that Silverglate is a "civil libertarian", but that's kind of obvious.) Sdedeo 02:43, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Final, final tweak: I've removed the stuff about Silverglate and the BP's. We already have enough "examples" and the paragraph is stretching out to infinity, the BP stuff was from the 1960s and people change (David Horowitz), and besides, lawyers -- especially civil libertarian types -- are presumably meant to defend clients regardless of political affiliation. If Silverglate filed a brief defending a cross-burner, we wouldn't call him a supporter of the KKK. Sdedeo 02:57, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

Sdedeo, you rock.

(Your info is very interesting, by the way -- is there a news article about this that we can cite? If someone is suggesting that FIRE is 'astroturfing' campuses, then that should be included.)

I know they've done the campus ACLU thing more than once (also at Brown U during a similar controversy), but it would be heresay and speculation to put it in (activists there told me what happened, the ACLUers use signature FIRE language in their statements and had Kors come talk at the school, Silverglate wrote an article about the case, etc. Nothing provable.) So I'll wait. Anyway, I think it's much harder for them to do it now that campus ACLUs are so much more likely to attract earnest members than pre 9/11.

The Columbia case alone seems very interesting. The only (and I mean only -- I've been googling pretty hard) material out there is on FIRE's side. Even the Village Voice's coverage is all by Nat Hentoff. "The other side" of the story is missing in the media.

Tell me about it ;)

LTC

FIRE Criticism: Sources[edit]

Greetings,

I am an attorney currently conducting doctoral research on contemporary right-wing movements in the U.S., and recently stumbled onto this discussion.

I must corroborate the above statements regarding the tactics of this particular organization: FIRE, alongside a number of other initiatives with which it and its members are affiliated, strategically deploys language and concepts traditionally utilized by progressive movements in order to attain credibility and promote an explicitly right-wing agenda. It is for this very reason that it is so invested in maintaining its image of objective civil liberties organization.

It is an organization that is extremely well-connected to mechanisms of knowledge-production, particularly mass media venues. Thus, most published accounts will reflect its own position, as opposed to the views of the student groups it attacks, groups with substantially less access to such resources. Wikipedia's emphasis on citations is perfectly reasonable; if everyone posted anything they wanted the site would surely turn into a disaster. Yet, particularly in a world where one's ability to be heard is inextricably tied to power and resources, this poses a serious problem for all of us committed to free dissemination of information, as this case well illustrates. It is not enough to privilege the ability to publish one's views in reputable sources, then tell others that if they want their perspectives noted, they must do so as well; it is this very tendency that organizations like FIRE have so wisely appropriated in order to promote their agenda and discredit others. No easy answers here, but further discussion welcomed.

In any case, there do exist published critcisms of FIRE in the Columbia Sexual Misconduct Policy case, all from the Columbia Daily Spectator.

Column criticising FIRE's tactics as well as the newspaper for serving as a tool of FIRE

Two Letters To The Editor responding to attacks by Karl Ward, a student recruited by FIRE

Column responding to FIRE's mischaracterizations of the policy and student activists

Article on activist, campaign free of FIRE's mischaracterizations

This is extremely interesting. Clearly FIRE is very invested in preserving its non-conservative image. It is quite obvious just from looking at the overall results they work toward and the tactics they use that they are not a progressive group (irrespective of the handful of liberals they have represented). Why do you need a newspaper to say so to make it true?
For their dirty harassment tactics look at this:

FIRE's smear campagins SysOp2006 20:53, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

We need sources (real ones) because otherwise it's just your say-so, which isn't good enough.
As for the results they're working toward, could you elaborate? It seems quite plain to me that they're working towards a freer climate on campus. If this is a conservative agenda, then good on conservatives. If it's a liberal value to oppose this, then shame upon their heads. And if you're implying some more sinister agenda, you're going to have to say what. Rogue 9 19:23, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
I just found this page and looked over the materials. It really is evident that the "free academic climate" is a clever tactic, when in fact FIRE works to delegitimize progressive campus campaigns by often misrepresenting them using the old culture wars tropes of multiculturalist/feminist/leftist censors. A token of liberal causes, stated online but not vehemently pursued, helps them make a stronger case for neutrality.

--146.96.80.254 18:11, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

To put it in the words of Lukianoff, a pro-affirmative action rally at Berkeley is not going to be shut down. This is manifestly true. What is shut down are traditionally conservative viewpoints and/or opposition to politically correct "progressive" causes. "Affirmative action bake sales" as they're known tend to be shut down in droves on campuses all across the country, just to name one example. I simply don't see how you're coming to the conclusion that FIRE's objective is to delegitimize liberal student groups. Rogue 9 14:21, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

Hello -- thanks for providing these links. For some reason, I was not able to find them linked from the Columbia Spectator search pages; perhaps it's because they don't use the full name of the group "Foundation for etc. etc.". The word "FIRE" is hard to search for, too many false positives. I will take a look at these myself. I am wary of the article turning into a giant article on this one case, however. If you have more "general" sources critical of FIRE, that cover more ground, then this would be helpful; the ones you list don't provide many specific criticisms. In particular:

Column criticising FIRE's tactics as well as the newspaper for serving as a tool of FIRE

  • FIRE mentioned briefly as a group of "far-right libertarians". We cover the "politics" of FIRE already, using sources.

Two Letters To The Editor responding to attacks by Karl Ward, a student recruited by FIRE

  • No mention of FIRE; Ward may be a member of FIRE (do they have student members?) but it's not discussed here and no allegations that Ward's conduct is either an "official" or "stealth" policy of FIRE are made.

Column responding to FIRE's mischaracterizations of the policy and student activists

  • Describes FIRE as wanting to "revoke not reform" the Harassment policy, and says it is opposed by most of the student body. I guess we could include this if we wanted to go into more detail on the Columbia case, but perhaps it is not so useful to include a sentence like "Opponents of FIRE in this case said FIRE was opposed by most of the student body." If there was a student poll taken by the Spectator, e.g., that would be more valuable, since it would be a presumably objective measurement.

Article on activist, campaign free of FIRE's mischaracterizations

  • A profile of Sarah Richardson, who opposed FIRE in the Columbia case. No mention of FIRE. Again, we really don't want to get into the details of the case.

Really, wikipedia is a tertiary source, not a secondary one. So it means that we can only do one of two things:

1. Provide factual (verifiable) information. For example, we list and talk about FIRE's board, who is on it, its sources of funding, etc. 2. Provide an account of controversies, with links to secondary and primary sources.

The best kind of sources for #2 are those where specific information is included. This policy doesn't mean wikipedia is "toothless"; when there are questions of fact, it can settle them. When there are subtleties, we state them (for example, we discuss criticism the ACLU has received from right-wing Christians; we also describe cases in which the ACLU has supported right-wing Christians.) We do this all the time.

You write:

I must corroborate the above statements regarding the tactics of this particular organization: FIRE, alongside a number of other initiatives with which it and its members are affiliated, strategically deploys language and concepts traditionally utilized by progressive movements in order to attain credibility and promote an explicitly right-wing agenda. It is for this very reason that it is so invested in maintaining its image of objective civil liberties organization.

This is fine. What sources did you use to come to this conclusion? What sources are we missing?

You write:

Thus, most published accounts will reflect [FIRE's] own position, as opposed to the views of the student groups it attacks, groups with substantially less access to such resources.

Yes, this can be a problem. For example, I've written (as always, in collaboration) on Quaker views of homosexuality. The majority of Quakers live in the Third World. They do not have webpages or student newspapers; we do not know what they think about the issue. But student groups have access to student newspapers; they often get University funding to publish their own newspapers; they have access to free web hosting on their University's web servers; they have access (especially in the Ivy League) to journalists from outside (sure, sounds like the Village Voice had a FIRE board member as a journalist, a significant breach of ethics; try the Nation.) In this particular case, the group SAFER had, as an ally, the Columbia University Sexual Assault office, which itself presumably commands significant resources.

Yours, Sdedeo 22:54, 8 November 2005 (UTC)


Hey "attorney"--do I know you? Without giving away my own identity too much, if you're a SAFERite, ask around SAFER for the Wiki enterer so we can talk. If you're not from SAFER, I'd be interested in talking to you about your research. Give the organization (www.safercampus.org) a call and leave a message in the general mailbox--I'll be checking for it.

Sdedeo, I think you're rad and obviously totally committed to this project, but I also think it's naive to suggest that the left has the same access to the media as the right. Just think for a second--their organizations have waaay more money, so they can afford lots of PR people to craft messages, call reporters, etc. They have waaay more money in general, so they can afford to launch more publications and outlets, like Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the NY Post, The Washington Times, The Sun, etc. etc. There is a conservative bias by big business, so conservative reporting is rewarded by advertisers, while progressive reporting is often punished. Surveys show that while journalists are more liberal than the general public on some social issues, they are more conservative on economics. In addition, editors (their bosses) are more likely to be conservative than liberal. And there are conservative organizations like the Leadership Institute and the Collegiate Network that have been training and placing conservative journalists in all news outlets as both editorial and news reporters for thirty years now.

It's true that there are progressive news outlets, like the Nation. But think a little about what the left is like vs. what the right is like. The media is structured completely differently. Conservative media works more like a thinktank, while progressive journalists tend to think of themselves as independent actors--journalists first, progressives second. The conservative news outlets see themselves as part of a larger movement, and they are willing to take talking points and stay on message. Getting progressives to agree on anything is like herding cats. The journalists for the Nation are truly independent. If they're personally interested in something, they'll write about it. Otherwise they won't.

LTC (Preceding unsigned comment by User:156.111.164.48 on 19:46, 9 November 2005)


Hi LTC and attorney -- actually, LTC and attorney, you can already contact each other in privacy. Go to User:LTC or User:WisteriaStone, and click "contact this user by e-mail"; if the other person entered their e-mail when they registered an account, it will send them a message. (You don't get to see their e-mail, it gets sent by the wikipedia server.)

Also, I have another thing to say, which requires a new heading... Sdedeo 23:16, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

"Sdedeo, I think you're rad and obviously totally committed to this project, but I also think it's naive to suggest that the left has the same access to the media as the right. Just think for a second--their organizations have waaay more money, so they can afford lots of PR people to craft messages, call reporters, etc. They have waaay more money in general, so they can afford to launch more publications and outlets, like Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the NY Post, The Washington Times, The Sun, etc. etc. There is a conservative bias by big business, so conservative reporting is rewarded by advertisers, while progressive reporting is often punished. Surveys show that while journalists are more liberal than the general public on some social issues, they are more conservative on economics. In addition, editors (their bosses) are more likely to be conservative than liberal. And there are conservative organizations like the Leadership Institute and the Collegiate Network that have been training and placing conservative journalists in all news outlets as both editorial and news reporters for thirty years now."
You are ignoring several things: First off, the top-circulating newspapers in the country are liberal; the Washington Post far outstrips the Washington Times in circulation, and the New York Times is the second highest circulating paper in the United States. Secondly, you're making a huge leap in logic by assuming that FIRE is conservative when they plainly are not; if you consider free speech to be a right-wing value, then I'm sure the right be glad to have that endorsement and turn around and smear you. Would a conservative organization hire liberal staff members to prominent positions? Thirdly, shouldn't "progressive" have something to do with progress? Fourth, if conservative think tanks have more money, it's because liberal donors tend to toss their cash into things like financing gigantic protest groups; it's their fault that they spend it that way. That the money tends to be poured into screaming about how everyone else's ideas are bad rather than in promoting the left's ideas should tell you something about the ability of those ideas to compete on their own merits.
I admire SAFER's mission. Rapists are the scum of the earth and should be dealt with as such. But I think you're reflexively lashing out at FIRE because they opposed the overly restrictive nature of the code in question; being safe does not and should not require the sacrifice of liberty or suppression of others' expression. Rogue 9 02:54, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

We are all bad and are going "off topic" on the talk page[edit]

This is just a reminder to all of us (including me, I am bad offender) that we should try to keep the talk page of this article as focused on the mechanics of the article as possible, and try not to stray. All this editing can be contentious for everyone; it is best for us to stay as neutral as possible and only discuss the mechanics here. This is especially important when more users come to this page, because things can get out of hand very quickly; I have seen it happen on other articles, and it can get very bad.

There are lots of interesting discussions to be had, but let us keep them off this page. One thing you can do is put messages on user talk pages (e.g., User_talk:Sdedeo, User_talk:LTC, User_talk:WisteriaStone) instead; that is really much more of a free-for-all.

Thanks all, and thanks to lurkers who may be out there. OK, back to mechanics.

"Uncovering the campus right" bibliography[edit]

Somebody removed the link to the "Uncovering the campus right" bibliography in the External links section. I usually don't care that much about the "External links", they're really not worth fighting over unless someone puts something really offensive in (links to hate sites, spam, etc. etc.) But I was a little nervous about the bibliography link, because none of the books in the bibliography mention FIRE in the title, and there is no suggestion or discussion of which ones might be relevant. I agree that the person who removed the bibliography link was correct in doing so, and the link should better appear in, e.g., the stealth conservative entry. Sdedeo 23:16, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

Yeah, I looked through the bibliography, and it seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with FIRE, even peripherally. As such, it should not be in this article. Who added it, anyway? Rogue 9 06:25, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

I added the link. Much of the stuff in there refers indirectly to FIRE. For example, their tactics. This is relevant. Also it refers specifically to Christina Hoff Sommers, Alan Kors, organizations that FIRE board members are part of, FIRE's funders, etc. LTC

Hi LTC -- you should log in when you use wikipedia now that you have an account. This helps you keep track of edits, communicate with others, etc. etc. Sdedeo 23:12, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
What Sdedeo said. Also, Sommers, Kors, and any separate organizations are not FIRE. The link would be appropriate to articles on these people and entities, but unless you have a source that is relevant to FIRE in a way that is readily apparent instead of in a way that's dependent upon the reader already being highly familiar with the organization, that link doesn't belong here. The bibliography doesn't demonstrate a whole lot; for instance, if you were to link to a source in the article on Protest Warrior saying that Kfir Alfia, one of the founders, is also a member of the Austin chess club or something, what would that demonstrate about Protest Warrior? That all chess players are center-right to libertarian protesters? It wouldn't prove a thing, and neither does this. Rogue 9 18:54, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

Wow Rogue. You sound like a lawyer. Hey how do you know so much about right-wing libertarians? Tolola

I'm not a lawyer; just a humble music student who was purposefully taught a very large vocabulary as a child. I'm a member of Protest Warrior myself, so they were the first example to spring to mind. My own political views are scattered all over the place; I can't really be defined as right or left overall. On issues of civil rights, though, I'm heavily libertarian. I take the First Amendment absolutely literally and apply it to everyone; anyone has the right to say what they wish, but I also reserve my right to tell them they're wrong if I feel that this is so. From my viewpoint, there is no reason for censorship of any sort; to quote Justice Lewis Brandeis, sunlight is the best disinfectant. So I suppose in that sense, you could say I know that much about them because I am one, though I virulently disagree with the Libertarian Party on many other issues. Rogue 9 11:21, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Including Greg L.[edit]

Fine to include Greg L.; however, in order that the funding/leadership section not grow without bounds, I'd like to suggest that we restrict further mentions to prominent members of the board of directors, the board of advisors, and presidents. We don't want to include everyone on the payroll (unless they do something like shoot the president or personally arrest Osama Bin Laden.)

Also, Rogue, can you provide a source very soon for Greg L.'s "self description" as a liberal? Thanks, Sdedeo 23:32, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

Found one [4], and added it. Sdedeo 23:33, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
Lukianoff is one of the organization's most prominent members; his job is to be their public face. I don't plan on adding the entire payroll, but we would be remiss to omit him. As for that self-description, he said it when speaking for FIRE in Brainwashing 101. Glad you found another source; I would hate to have to source the video, as it would virtually preclude people on dialup from accessing it. Rogue 9 18:46, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

David Project involvement[edit]

The article's blurb on FIRE's involvement in the anti-Semitism controversy at Columbia seems to contradict it's source. "FIRE has been involved in another Columbia campus controversy, this time against both the ACLU and the University administration, in supporting the actions of the David Project, a group claiming a pattern of anti-Semitic harassment by professors in the Middle Eastern studies department" The article that is sourced, however, says that the New York affiliate of the ACLU was also critical of the administration's report. Unless the national organization held a different position than the NYCLU for some reason, I think there might be a mistake. Rogue 9 11:12, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

This gets a little tricky. The NYCLU and FIRE were opposed on the David Project stuff, and FIRE made a big deal about it [5], but the NYCLU and the administration may well themselves have been opposed. (There is a third subtlety which is that there is the "Columbia CLU", which is a student group; they seem to be more often allied with FIRE; we used to include some of that info, but because it's just a student group and the CLU student groups don't have to report back to any higher authority, we decided to not mention it.) Sdedeo 15:06, 19 November 2005 (UTC)
I see. Am I reading that correctly? The NYCLU actually questioned whether students have the right to speak against their professors? So much for civil liberties... Thanks. Rogue 9 21:57, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Here's what the NYCLU said on the issue:

...students should be free to advance their criticism of professors in student newspapers and in off-campus publications; at rallies; in their course evaluations and in private conversations and even in their classrooms, if invited to do so by the professor. But the right of students to an appropriate learning environment does not immunize them from ideas that they find provocative, disturbing or even offensive. And they cannot expect that that their professors will trim the cut of their convictions so as not to offend the sensibilities of their students. [6]

Not quite the plainest of statements; they switch from talking about a student's ability to criticize a professor to a student demanding that a professor not hold or profess a belief. My feeling is that you have to balance these things against the need to "manage" a classroom; students do not have an absolute right to say anything in seminar. On the other hand, a good professor will know how to manage and promote dissention within a class. Just another reason to pick your college carefully, I guess. Sdedeo 23:18, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

FIRE's got a new president[edit]

Greg Lukianoff has been named interim president of FIRE now that David French is leaving the staff. 216.249.144.27 19:39, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Once again, SAFER and FIRE[edit]

Hi; look I'm not even sure if it's reasonable to include a sourceless blog entry whose sole purpose, as it states, is to be a "valid" wikipedia reference. Do please have the benefit of the doubt, but bear in mind that many people will find it illegit and nearly everyone will see it as at least in part unprofessional. It is really very inappropriate to "fine tune" a blog entry on your organization's website to get in jabs at a group you dislike on wikipedia. I have altered some "rewording" that in my opinion was unfair to FIRE, and I have removed restatements of the allegations made by the FIRE blog article, which can be summed up (as you did in the first edit, which I thought was fine) in two words: "stealth conservative".

Again, you're really in some inappropriate territory here. If you continue to write blog articles about FIRE, I ask that you refrain from editing the wiki entry beyond adding them to the "External sources" list. Allow other editors to incorporate or remove those links as they see fit. There are lots of other articles in the wikispace that you can work on. Sdedeo 18:15, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

Yes, and I'm seeing fit. Writing your own blog entry and then inserting it as a source is identical to simply not sourcing it; your own assertions are still your source. And actually the analysis of why the "interesting" sourcing policy is in place is quite correct: To keep nutbars like the person who wrote that blog entry from doing this. Seriously, look:
"There’s also a problematic belief in “objectivity” (the underlying old-school sexist crap about “rationality” and women makes me cringe, but that’s another post) that seems to guide a lot of Wikipedia’s discussion. When the ridiculous notion of the possibility of objectivity in journalism is done away with, progressives will be a whole lot better off."
Leaving aside the fact that the author comes out and says that progressives would be a lot better off if objectivity in the media were eliminated (which means that objective reporting harms progressive causes, but that's a topic for another place and time), it is outright stated that objectivity doesn't matter to this person, so why should we take this entry as a source? The fact that the quoted line was included throws the blog's reliability out the window right off the bat. Rogue 9 18:50, 16 December 2005 (UTC)