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Phillip R. Greaves

Phillip R. Greaves

Phillip R. Greaves, author of a self-published book on pedophilia, was released yesterday after spending more than three months in jail.

From BBC News:

Phillip Greaves pleaded no contest on Wednesday in Florida to a charge of distributing obscene material depicting minors engaged in harmful conduct… He was arrested in December after he sold a copy of the self-published book to an undercover detective in Florida.  He was arrested in Colorado on behalf of prosecutors in Polk County, Florida, and was extradited to the southern US state. (Read the full article).

It all started last fall when Anderson Cooper spearheaded CNN’s crusade against Greaves. The goal, at first, was just to compel Amazon.com to stop selling Greaves’s book.  Amazon initially responded by saying that it supported the author’s rights to free speech:

Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable.

Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.

Viewers of AC360 were then encouraged to boycott Amazon.com until the website pulled the book.  Predictably, Amazon eventually reneged on its commitment to the First Amendment, removing the book from its website within a day.

But here’s what CNN and Cooper failed to mention.  Nobody besides the author had ever read, purchased, or even heard of this book until CNN started giving it free publicity.  To hear the CNN pundit tell it, it was as if the book were a national bestseller.  But in reality, Greaves’s typo-filled book hadn’t even been published by an actual publisher.  It was only available in Kindle form.  Absolutely anybody is eligible to sell their crap on Amazon in Kindle form.  But neither Amazon nor Greaves were getting on account of this book.  In fact, guess how many copies had sold before CNN went berserk?  Just one.  So even though CNN ultimately succeeded in preventing Amazon from “selling” the book, the cable news network likely caused more readers (including real-life pedophiles) to buy the book than Greaves ever could have sold himself in the absence of a national freak out.  (Let this be a First Amendment lesson for all major media organizations: if your goal is to censor distasteful material, don’t provide it with free advertising).

But whatever good fortune the boost in Kindle sales brought to Greaves was no doubt offset by what came next.  During the global outcry surrounding Greaves, a self-righteous Florida sheriff saw an opportunity to get famous.

From Bay News 9:

Sheriff Grady Judd saw all the national attention about the book and wanted to do something about it. He had his detectives order the book.

When it got to Polk County, Judd had a judge sign an arrest warrant. Two deputies then flew to Colorado to arrest Greaves.

Greaves has no other connection to Florida.

Judd was criticized for spending money on the case. Today, Judd defended his decision to send his detectives to Colorado.

“What’s that worth to the parents across the United States? I would say an investigation like that is priceless and it cost us very little,” Judd said. “And if at the end of the day it only saved a child in Colorado from being a victim, who would argue with that? I am proud of that expenditure.”

(See news video about arrest).

It was an outcome even CNN never intended (but nonetheless celebrated).

Though ordered to serve two years probation, Greaves does not have to register as a sex offender because he was never accused of actually molesting a child, only thinking about it and fantasizing about it in writing. He told Bay News 10 that he intended to celebrate his release with a pizza and a Dr. Pepper in a local motel last night.  Today, he will attempt to purchase a bus ticket back to Colorado using social security checks that accumulated during the

As Greaves was released yesterday, he told told reporters:

I don’t really think that I did anything that was so terribly wrong. I was trying to be objective, I was trying to reach out and help people that everybody hates and it backfired on me.

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A total of 35 Senate seats are up for grabs this Tuesday; 23 of those seats are currently Republican and 12 are Democrat.

All twelve Democrats appear likely to be reelected (the closest race is in Louisiana, where the Democrat, Mary Landrieu, leads her opponent by 11%). By contrast, almost half of the states in which Republican Senate seats are up for grabs have a margin smaller than that. Even in the wingnut Mecca of Texas, incumbent Republican Senator John Cornyn lead over Democratic challenger Rick Noriega is less than 9%.

Here are ten Senate seats that could switch from Red to Blue, listed in order of the likelihood of a Democrat taking over.

  1. VIRGINIA: Mark Warner (D) leads Jim Gilmore (R) by 28%.
  2. COLORADO: Mark Udall (D) leads Bob Schaffer (R) by 12%.
  3. NEW HAMPSHIRE: Jeanne Shaheen (D) leads John Sununu (R) by 8%.
  4. OREGON: Jeff Merkley (D) leads Gordon Smith (R) by 6%.
  5. NORTH CAROLINA: Kay Hagan (D) leads Elizabeth Dole (R) by 4%.
  6. ALASKA: Mark Begich (D) leads Ted Stevens (R) by 4%.
  7. MINNESOTA: Al Franken (D) leads Norm Coleman (R) by 2%.
  8. KENTUCKY: Mitch McConnell (R) leads Bruce Lunsford (D) by 3%.
  9. GEORGIA: Saxby Chambliss (R) leads Jim Martin (D) by 3%.
  10. MISSISSIPPI: Roger Wicker (R) leads Ronnie Musgrove (D) by 5%.

Should all of these races go to the candidate that’s currently in the lead, the Democrats would pick up seven seats end up with a total of 56 Senators to the Republicans’ 42.

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Parents who fear that their college-aged “children” will be brainwashed by Ward Churchill can rest easy now, knowing that Churchill’s radically liberal views are counterbalanced by the radically conservative “thought cops” on Fox, where pseudo-journalism posing as news acts as a choke hold to check and balance to free speech in the United States.

Now that Ward Churchill has officially gotten the ax, we should take a moment to reflect on the Churchill/Colorado saga in its entirety.

Ward ChurchillWard Churchill first found himself in the national spotlight in the fall of 2004. Somehow the media caught wind of the parallels he’d drawn between Americans who died in the world trade center attacks and innocent civilians from “enemy” countries whose wartime deaths we shrug off as “collateral damage.” To illuminate his point Churchill referred once to American victims as “little Eichmanns” a historical reference that the media were not only too dumb to understand but too lazy to look up. Thus what on Churchill’s part was an objective, thoughtful assessment of the situation was spun by the corporate news media into a hateful, incoherent, anti-American rant. In a country still so burning with leftover raw emotion, it was fashionable to bash any American whose response to 9/11 was anything other than “Die Camel Jockey, Die!” So when we learned that an American professor had likened innocent 9/11 children to vicious Nazi murderers, context and fact-checking weren’t exactly high on our to-do lists. If in retrospect, however, you wish to supplement the factually baseless propaganda we consumed in 2005 with a legitimate summary of Churchill’s essay, please read his own account of what he meant.

After Churchill’s 9-11 essay was taken out of context, the University of Colorado administrators knew they had to find a way to dump Churchill–and fast. The media witch hunt spelled too much bad publicity for the school, as O’Reilly and other propagandists called on major alumni and other benefactors to stop donating money to CU unless Churchill was fired . Obediently and (somewhat) CU launched a lengthy investigation for the sole purpose of finding dirt on Churchill and firing him for it. Two years later they’ve finally found something–Churchill allegedly did some ghostwriting (i.e., he wrote articles under pen-names and published them in books he edited under his own) and may also have plagiarized a few paragraphs in one of his books.

Whether or not Churchill is legitimately guilty of these scholarly offenses, let us not be duped into buying the official story that the school takes plagiarism incredibly seriously and that Churchill’s firing had absolutely nothing to do with his infamous “little Eichmanns” quote. As someone who’s spent ten years in academia, I know that in certain fields (social sciences) Churchill’s “ineptness” (plagiarism, etc.) is fairly common. State universities are littered with inept professors, and usually administrators couldn’t care less. CU fired Churchill not to crack down on academic sloppiness but to appease the witch-hunters at FoxNews who were determined to continue lobbing verbal grenades at Boulder until they hit their mark.

Too many people choose not to read between these lines, perhaps because they’re as angry as Fox is about the Colorado professor’s anti-American comments. But as I explained in an earlier post, we need neither be frightened nor infuriated if we consider Churchill’s comments open-mindedly and in their intended context.

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There is something more disturbing about this fiasco than plagiarism or ghostwriting or even Churchill’s comparing 9/11 victims to Nazi technocrats; and that is the increasing power of the media in shaping, rather than REPORTING, the news. It is not the job of FoxNews to silence all voices they’ve decided don’t deserve to be heard. Even if FoxNews was morally correct in all of its political positions, how can we call ourselves a “superpower” if our everyday citizens are so fragile that we depend on our news media to shelter and shield us from reality by cutting mics and stifling criticism and filtering out all of the world’s ugly unpleasantries? As guests on The O’Reilly Factor constantly have to remind the hotheaded host, “the first amendment lives in a rough neighborhood.” Allowing all voices to be heard inevitably means that we’ll be subjected to offensive opinions from time to time. But our culture has proven repeatedly our ability to shrug off hateful radicals and whatever mean things they say. We don’t need Bill O’Reilly to protect us from dissenting opinions; in fact, the right of the people to speak against our government is part of the “freedom” that Americans celebrate on bumper stickers and die for in wars.

What’s more, the misconduct was exaggerated and the punishment excessive. For years Irving Louis Horowitz plagiarized the work of his STUDENTS; yet he is still viewed favorably by many in his academic circle. Of course, Horowitz wrote diatribes against Marxism whereas Churchill’s beef is with American imperialism.

American higher education is indeed irresponsible, and lazy administrators too often condone the sloppiness of tenured professors. But to believe Churchill’s firing was really about scholarly incompetence is incredibly naive. Sure, Bill O’Reilly plays that card, but only to downplay his own role in mandating public opinion on websites and in classrooms.

A dangerous atmosphere is emerging, whereby patriotic words are sufficing in place of patriotic deeds. We’re turning our backs in real life on the very freedoms we so voraciously defend in our minds and so proudly display on our bumpers. One of the perks of the democracy is supposed to be the right of citizens to speak out against national policies, and the right of groups of citizens to debate dissenting opinions in a public forum. O’Reilly should know that from the history books he claims to have read.

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