A tenured college professor is set to be fired for simply sending out an e-mail to colleagues containing George Washington’s “Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1789.”
Already professor Walter Kehowski at Glendale Community College in Arizona has been placed on forced administrative leave and the school’s chief has recommended his termination.
“It simply boggles the mind that a professor could find himself facing termination simply for e-mailing the Thanksgiving address of our first president,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
On Nov. 22, 2006, the day before Thanksgiving, Kehowski, a professor in mathematics in the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) sent the e-mail containing Washington’s message to all MCCCD employees, using a district-wide service designated for “announcements.”
Within weeks, five MCCCD employees filed harassment charges against Kehowski, claiming his message was “hostile” and “derogatory.” They complaining employees also cited the fact that the e-mail contained a link to Pat Buchanan’s Web site, where Kehowski had found Washington’s proclamation. Buchanan, a conservative commentator, had also posted to his Web site criticisms of immigration policies.
On Jan. 3, 2007, MCCCD found that Kehowski was guilty of violating policies limiting e-mail usage to messages that “support education, research, scholarly communication, administration, and other MCCCD business.”
These policies also prohibit “mailings to large numbers of people that contain unwanted solicitations or information.”
However, MCCCD employees commonly use the “announcements” service to send out unsolicited information, according to a statement from FIRE.
Recent e-mails sent out using this service include an advertisement for purchasing goats for orphans in Uganda, quotes about Women’s History Month, and a reminder about the health benefits of eating bananas.
“It is dark day for free speech and common sense in Arizona,” Lukianoff said.
“If the MCCCD believes at all in the importance of the right to free expression, or even just in basic fairness, it will undo its illiberal actions and exonerate professor Kehowski immediately.
“This situation is an embarrassment to MCCCD and would be laughable if a professor’s most basic rights and very livelihood weren’t on the line
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me to “recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the Service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the single and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, of the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have to acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humble offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all people, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone know to be best.