By The Progressive on December 19, 2001
Newspaper Publisher Shouted Down at Commencement for Defending Civil Liberties
By Matthew Rothschild

December 19, 2001

Janis Besler Heaphy is the publisher and president of the Sacramento Bee. On December 15, she tried to give a commencement speech at California State University. But she wasn't able to finish because the audience "drowned her out by stomping their feet and clapping until, about five minutes into an eight-minute text, Heaphy finally gave up and sat down," writes Daniel Weintraub, the public affairs columnist for the Bee's editorial pages.

Newspaper Publisher Shouted Down at Commencement for Defending Civil Liberties
By Matthew Rothschild

December 19, 2001

Janis Besler Heaphy is the publisher and president of the Sacramento Bee. On December 15, she tried to give a commencement speech at California State University.

But she wasn't able to finish because the audience "drowned her out by stomping their feet and clapping until, about five minutes into an eight-minute text, Heaphy finally gave up and sat down," writes Daniel Weintraub, the public affairs columnist for the Bee's editorial pages.

Early on in her speech, Heaphy said: "No one argues the validity and need for both retaliation and security. But to what lengths are we willing to go to achieve them? Specifically, to what degree are we willing to compromise our civil liberties in the name of security?"

Hardly controversial questions.

A little later in her speech, she said: "The Constitution makes it our right to challenge government policies. Our culture makes it our duty. Raising issues. Asking questions. Debating options."

Again, not exactly incendiary stuff.

But too strong, evidently, for the crowd of seniors at California State's commencement, who didn't let her finish.

If they did, they would have heard her final thought: "Freedom of expression is one of our most cherished American values. It sets us apart. It makes us great. . . . But it can't be taken for granted. America was founded on the belief that the freedom to think as you will and speak as you think are essential to democracy. Only by exercising those rights can you ensure their continued existence."

Don't they teach the Bill of Rights at California State?

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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