“Red Star” on Project Censored’s hit list

Adrienne Paul, Staff Writer

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The “Red Star” incident, as it came to be known on campus last spring, was part of one of the most under reported stories of the year, according to the yearly publication by Sonoma State University’s Project Censored.

The publication, “Censored 2006,” covers 25 of the most censored stories of the media year.

“I’ve read the section the JC is mentioned in and it is balanced and quite good,” said SRJC history professor Martin Bennett.

The “Red Star” incident, where 10 professors were targeted for allegedly forcing their liberal political views upon their students, was found in the No. 14 spot as an example of how the International Studies in Higher Education Act of 2003 threatens the freedom of education in the classroom.

Led by the head of the SRJC Republican club, Molly McPherson, students brought the ghost of McCarthyism to campus by posting red stars on the office doors of each professor. The stars were accompanied by a section of a state of Education Code, which prohibits “the advocacy or teaching of communism with the intent of indoctrinating or inculcating a preference in the mind of any pupil for such doctrine.”

“Academic freedom applies to students and teachers equally, and my actions furthered the diversity of ideas in the classroom,” said McPherson.

Produced annually by the Sonoma State University Sociology department, “Censored 2006” is viewed as one of the most controversial journalistic reviews. In addition to under reported news stories, it also examines the focus of media towards frivolous stories, such as the Michael Jackson trial, Senator Howard Dean’s high-decibel outburst during the 2004 election and the Swift Boat anti-Kerry campaign ads.

“Censored 2006” includes topics ranging from electoral politics to medicine, and war reporting to inadequate education.

The International Studies in Higher Education Act was reintroduced to Congress early this year. In the meantime, the Georgia Senate passed a bill that has been termed an “Academic Bill of Rights.” This bill, which is also mentioned in “Censored 2006,” is a conservative plan to remove the perceived liberal bias of higher education.

“It is a grave threat to academic freedom and a serious threat to the integrity of higher education,” said Bennett.

According to the Washington Post article “College Faculties a Most Liberal Lot, Study Finds”, March 29, 2005: “By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative.”

“The academic freedom bill is a response to the hostile environment that professors create for conservative students,” McPherson commented.

On Oct. 17, historian and leading expert on McCarthyism Ellen Schrecker will be present on the Santa Rosa campus as part of the on going Arts & Lectures series. Author of “The Age of McCarthyism,” Schrecker was quoted in “Censored 2006” and will be lecturing on the “Academic Bill of Rights”. Sponsored by the Sonoma County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, there will be two sessions, one at 12:15 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. Both are held in Newman Auditorium and the evening session will be followed by a panel discussion with SRJC instructors Marty Bennett, Michael Aparicio, Joyce Johnson and Terry Mulcaire.

“It will be the first time the targeted teachers get to give their points of view,” said Bennett.

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