I’ve been Ward-Churchilled. In a way.
This week I was scheduled to give a speech at Arkansas State University Mountain Home, a two-year college in the northern part of the state. But several weeks ago, Mick Spaulding, the vice chancellor for development, contacted my speakers bureau and canceled the contract. He said that the decision had been precipitated by material on my personal blog at www.davidcorn.com.
I was peeved by this. The booker at the speakers bureau had called me about a year ago and said that he often tries to coax his speakers to go to ASUMH, which is a good distance from any major airport and which does not have the money to pay the customary speaker fees. Consider this a form of public service, he said. I was reluctant but decided to do him and the school a favor. No good deed goes unpunished.
Several days after Spaulding killed my gig–which was to be part of an ongoing lecture series underwritten by trout fishing resort owners Jim and Jill Gaston–Spaulding’s assistant emailed me the offending material that had appeared on my blog. It was an ad for anti-Bush gear that flashes such witty lines as “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kerry,” “51 percent is NOT a mandate,” “He’s still not my president,” and “Asses of Evil.”
Banned in Arkansas because of a politically-pointed ad on my blog? That sounded fishy to me. I sent Spaulding an email:
Apparently, this [ad] was the only material that affected the decision to cancel the speech. And this causes me to be rather curious about your decision….Now why would this lead to the cancellation of my speaking engagement? I am well-known as a journalist who is critical of President Bush. That is why Fox News hired me as a contributor. It is no secret that I wrote a best-selling book called “The Lies of George W. Bush.”
On my blog, I accept ads from all sorts. Advertisers have included Amnesty International, PBS and the United Church of Christ. I have an open-door policy and post ads from any person or entity, as long as the ad is not obscene or extremely objectionable. In the six months I have been publishing ads on my site, I have not rejected one.
So why would displaying an ad from an outfit peddling anti-Bush gear cause me to be banned from your campus? If this company advertised on CNN, would you not allow Larry King to speak at Arkansas State University Mountain Home?
….Can you please explain what happened?
Spaulding did not reply. A few days later, I resent the email and asked for a response. He then did answer:
The option to cancel our obligation was clearly spelled out in the contract. We followed the letter of the contract, cancelled within the thirty-day grace period, and have paid the [kill] fee that was necessary to close the business agreement.