University Backs Down Over Firefly Poster Protest

University Backs Down Over Firefly Poster Protest

The University of Wisconsin has decided that a Firefly poster at the center of a dispute between a professor and the police is not actually a threat to anyone's well-being.

Back in September we learned about the sad story of James Miller, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who found himself in trouble with the campus constabulary for hanging a poster of Firefly-era Nathan Fillion, emblazoned with a famous quote from the show in which he explains the exact circumstances under which he will kill you. When the police decided that the poster was a potential threat to the peace and took it down, Miller put up another one referencing fascism, which of course just made things worse.

Miller eventually took his case to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education but he also found an outpouring of support from the hordes of indignant nerds brought running by the Firefly factor. Among them were none other than former Firefly stars Fillion and Adam Baldwin, aka the fan-favorite "Man Named Jayne," both of whom weighed in on the debate.

Noting that Miller sent a clip of the show including the relevant quote to the university administration to demonstrate that it was really "an homage to fair play and a code of honor that obviously prefers non-violence," Baldwin wrote on Big Hollywood, "This is precisely the issue with freedom of speech; words are subjective and can be interpreted differently by separate individuals. Sometimes this is done unintentionally, sometimes with malice, which is why the act of deciding what's NOT free speech is ripe for abuse. The UWS administration's stated desire to 'promote a campus environment that is free from threats of any kind-both direct and implied' may be well-meaning, but its meaning amounts to nothing. How does one set a universal standard to determine what is an implied threat or in what context speech may 'refer to violence and/or harm'?"

Fortunately, Sorensen agreed, declaring that the poster that started the whole mess does not constitute a threat or disruption. He's also going to hold "workshops and forums on the application of the First Amendment on campuses." It's certainly better than tearing down patently inoffensive decorations but Baldwin, while "heartened" by the support of the Firefly community, nonetheless sounded a note of disappointment over the whole thing.

"It remains a tragic multi-generational crime that Leftism's educational malpractices have so perverted our nation's educational system that it becomes necessary for an American university to convene training seminars on the First Amendment," he told Hot Air.

Fillion, in a quote passed on by Baldwin, was a little more succinct. "There are times we must try hard to find meaning. I understand that," he said. "I don't understand when we try hard to find malice."

Thanks to ltmarcos for the tip.

Permalink

Well, at least they let him hang the poster back up.
But yeah, the whole thing reeks of the "freedom or safety" thing.

A bit of common sense: 1
Complete and utter fuckwits: 0

I call this a win.

Incidentally, was anyone else imagining Mr Baldwin's rather eloquent bit of writing being read in the voice of Jayne Cobb? So many big words and complex sentences.

Two things: One, great they put the poster back up, now they should fire that overzealous glorified mall-cop that started the thing in the first place.

Two, what's with the comment about leftism from Baldwin? As far as I can tell it's the right wing that's usually trying to clamp down on free speech. While I'm mostly moderate with views that swing towards both ends of the spectrum I have to take a little offense at that implication. The right wing is the one that's trying to systematically destroy the first amendment by making the claim that there should be no separation of church and state and burning books such as The Catcher in the Rye (seriously why was this piece of crap banned?). It just seems like a a misdirected swing at the left.

Baldwin's politics are apparently pretty hardcore libertarian, which I guess puts him firmly on the right wing. TBH, American political terminology confuses me sometimes. Still, while I disagree in principle with his "Leftism" crack, there's no doubt that he's right about this one. The idea that a respected university needs to hold workshops on the First Amendment, especially in an educational environment, is sad and troubling.

Welcome to the new world order. At least he got to put the poster back up!

Justice is served.

Now, let's have a wee chat with the authoritarian that did it.

Andy Chalk:
Baldwin's politics are apparently pretty hardcore libertarian, which I guess puts him firmly on the right wing. TBH, American political terminology confuses me sometimes. Still, while I disagree in principle with his "Leftism" crack, there's no doubt that he's right about this one. The idea that a respected university needs to hold workshops on the First Amendment, especially in an educational environment, is sad and troubling.

He is kind of a crazy person if I remember some of the stories right, I think he had a whole tirade against sesame street for being some kinda communist propaganda, or something.

For someone who is not entirely familiar with Baldwin outside of Firefly, I was too distracted by all the big words he used to really even read the article.

Going back, though, I think he has a point. Without context the university completely misinterpreted the point of the quote, and found hostility where there was none.

Yeah, I really don't get that "Leftism" crack either. I mean, this really seems more a case of people being stupid and completely out-of-touch, rather than anything to do with partisan politics. But I suppose people who feel strongly enough about their political beliefs will turn anything and everything into a way to blame the other side. Shame.

Just to clarify, what good 'ol Jayne means about "Leftism" is how the far-Left can be overzealous with political correctness and being overprotective. When people talk about "Nanny States" it can stem from this sort of thing. Note that the "Right" can be guilty of this too, but usually stems from vague religious or moral beliefs. Though, they both tend to ring the, "Think of the children" mentality.

Andy Chalk:
Baldwin's politics are apparently pretty hardcore libertarian, which I guess puts him firmly on the right wing. TBH, American political terminology confuses me sometimes. Still, while I disagree in principle with his "Leftism" crack, there's no doubt that he's right about this one. The idea that a respected university needs to hold workshops on the First Amendment, especially in an educational environment, is sad and troubling.

I've heard people say, at Cons and stuff, that Baldwin isn't that different from his character on Chuck, at least ideologically.

On the other hand, he worked with, speaks highly of, and has stated he'd like to do more with Joss Whedon, who always seemed pretty leftist to me. So he obviously isn't blindly partisan or anything.

Andy Chalk:
"It remains a tragic multi-generational crime that Leftism's educational malpractices have so perverted our nation's educational system that it becomes necessary for an American university to convene training seminars on the First Amendment," he told Hot Air.

Bit of partisan trolling there, but the basic points are solid. Universities are quite fond of free speech, where free is "speech the senior faculty agrees with". Universities are also conventionally seen as left-leaning or at least bastions of progressive thought. His problem is mistaking correlation with causation. Just because some universities attract both leftists and people who clamp down on dissenting speech doesn't mean leftists are all people who clamp down on dissenting speech. It just means those universities are incapable of practicing what they preach, another reason I'm glad I didn't go to one.

That said, if one goes with the quote often attributed to Churchill (not that he actually said it), then one arrives at the conclusion that a leftist faculty has no brains.;)

ike42:

Two, what's with the comment about leftism from Baldwin? As far as I can tell it's the right wing that's usually trying to clamp down on free speech. While I'm mostly moderate with views that swing towards both ends of the spectrum I have to take a little offense at that implication. The right wing is the one that's trying to systematically destroy the first amendment by making the claim that there should be no separation of church and state and burning books such as The Catcher in the Rye (seriously why was this piece of crap banned?). It just seems like a a misdirected swing at the left.

I think it's more to do with the current trend of everything and anything being a target for left-wingers who think that everything and anything can be racist / ageist / sexist. Ok that's only the extreme left but it's also seeping into every-day use.

Example - My cousin, who is a teacher, was reprimanded for calling a blackboard "a blackboard" (it's what chalboards are called in the UK because, funnily enough, they're black!) and a whiteboard "a whiteboard". Apprarently this could be seens as "racially insensetve" - thankfully she told the busybody in question to fuck off and do something useful.

Another Example - People being allowed to sue for "hurt feelings". I'm sorry but people who are so weak they feel they have to sue for this deserve to have their "feelings" hurt with a basball bat.

Last example - Recently, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron was accused of being sexist for calling a female MP "Dear".

See what I mean? Thanks to political-correctness, which is very much a lefty idea, you can't say / do anything anymore without upsetting someone.

Actually I will rephrase that - Thanks to PC, you can't say anything without someone saying you are being offensive to (insert race / minority / gender / age-bracket here) even though msot of the time the supposed "target" couldn't give a flying fuck.

Wardy

Varrdy:

ike42:

Two, what's with the comment about leftism from Baldwin? As far as I can tell it's the right wing that's usually trying to clamp down on free speech. While I'm mostly moderate with views that swing towards both ends of the spectrum I have to take a little offense at that implication. The right wing is the one that's trying to systematically destroy the first amendment by making the claim that there should be no separation of church and state and burning books such as The Catcher in the Rye (seriously why was this piece of crap banned?). It just seems like a a misdirected swing at the left.

I think it's more to do with the current trend of everything and anything being a target for left-wingers who think that everything and anything can be racist / ageist / sexist. Ok that's only the extreme left but it's also seeping into every-day use.

Example - My cousin, who is a teacher, was reprimanded for calling a blackboard "a blackboard" (it's what chalboards are called in the UK because, funnily enough, they're black!) and a whiteboard "a whiteboard". Apprarently this could be seens as "racially insensetve" - thankfully she told the busybody in question to fuck off and do something useful.

Another Example - People being allowed to sue for "hurt feelings". I'm sorry but people who are so weak they feel they have to sue for this deserve to have their "feelings" hurt with a basball bat.

Last example - Recently, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron was accused of being sexist for calling a female MP "Dear".

See what I mean? Thanks to political-correctness, which is very much a lefty idea, you can't say / do anything anymore without upsetting someone.

Actually I will rephrase that - Thanks to PC, you can't say anything without someone saying you are being offensive to (insert race / minority / gender / age-bracket here) even though msot of the time the supposed "target" couldn't give a flying fuck.

I see where you're coming from and that angle seems to explain it, but that's not a leftist or rightist viewpoint. It's lawyers making everyone scared of getting sued for any stupid thing. I suppose the blame lies mostly with the judges that don't automatically throw out a lot of those BS lawsuits when they come across them.

Wardy

A decent outcome. But I still wonder that the campus cops just had nothing better to do than take down someone's movie poster...
Also it sort of makes me sad that the whole incident had to had to have this huge investigation. Seems like something so trivial is given so much effort.

Varrdy:
Example - My cousin, who is a teacher, was reprimanded for calling a blackboard "a blackboard" (it's what chalboards are called in the UK because, funnily enough, they're black!) and a whiteboard "a whiteboard". Apprarently this could be seens as "racially insensetve" - thankfully she told the busybody in question to fuck off and do something useful.

Reminds me of the time there was a small furor over IDE devices using the terminology "master" and "slave" to determine which device handled communications and took priority. Some people complained it was racist against African-Americans. Me, I found the insistence that it was racist to be the problem since calling "master" and "slave" racist against blacks assumes that all slaves are black.

while I agree that the initial situation could have been handled a little better, I also agree that the poster is somewhat out of place in a university, and a quote that needs to be placed in context for it not to be taken the wrong way is something that you should think twice about going around posting on walls in public, anyway.

personally, I believe that if the university wanted to have the poster removed, they should have it within their rights to do so. people are so hung up on the individual's rights that they forget to take into account the organization's rights as well. not to mention the "freedom of speech" malarkey is often taken so far out of context that I start to question if people even know what exactly the "freedom of speech" is about to start with.

Andy Chalk:
Noting that Miller sent a clip of the show including the relevant quote to the university administration to demonstrate that it was really "an homage to fair play and a code of honor that obviously prefers non-violence,"

Ehh...I'm all for letting the guy keep his poster up as it's no death threat to anyone or anything resembling endorsement of violence, but it's not exactly what he's claiming it is, either. Homage to fair play? Okay, I can let that slide, but "obviously prefers non-violence?" No. Mal doesn't express any sense of regret or remorse over the idea he's expressing; there's no hesitation to it or some kind of "gosh I wish it could be some other way" sentimentality (thus Simon's joke). He's just straight-up saying he doesn't kill people who aren't actively a threat to him, and he's saying it cold. If someone pulls a gun on him or his crew he will put that man down and he'll sleep just fine that night.

Mal is not a peaceful guy.

ike42:

Two, what's with the comment about leftism from Baldwin? As far as I can tell it's the right wing that's usually trying to clamp down on free speech.

Go far enough in either direction and they both wrap around and meet in the middle on other side of reality.

Well, it's good to see that free speech still wins out occasionally. I don't know how thrilled I am though, considering it should never have been an issue in the first place.

Andy Chalk:
...which I guess puts him firmly on the right wing.

No, not really.

This isn't the place to explain in detail but, in simple terms, Libertarians are liberal on social issues(support gay rights, pro choice, etc) and conservative in terms of government size (low taxes, limited [if any] corporate regulation, etc).

This is a big win for the Browncoats.

It's remarkable what a little attention can do for a cause isn't it?

Zhukov:
Incidentally, was anyone else imagining Mr Baldwin's rather eloquent bit of writing being read in the voice of Jayne Cobb? So many big words and complex sentences.

What other voice would I imagine it read in?

ike42:
Two things: One, great they put the poster back up, now they should fire that overzealous glorified mall-cop that started the thing in the first place.

Two, what's with the comment about leftism from Baldwin? As far as I can tell it's the right wing that's usually trying to clamp down on free speech. While I'm mostly moderate with views that swing towards both ends of the spectrum I have to take a little offense at that implication. The right wing is the one that's trying to systematically destroy the first amendment by making the claim that there should be no separation of church and state and burning books such as The Catcher in the Rye (seriously why was this piece of crap banned?). It just seems like a a misdirected swing at the left.

Because in America you just attribute things you don't like to whatever political viewpoint you don't claim you ascribe to.

ike42:

Two, what's with the comment about leftism from Baldwin? As far as I can tell it's the right wing that's usually trying to clamp down on free speech. While I'm mostly moderate with views that swing towards both ends of the spectrum I have to take a little offense at that implication.

Vilify the opposition, whether true or not.

ike42:
Two, what's with the comment about leftism from Baldwin? As far as I can tell it's the right wing that's usually trying to clamp down on free speech. While I'm mostly moderate with views that swing towards both ends of the spectrum I have to take a little offense at that implication. The right wing is the one that's trying to systematically destroy the first amendment by making the claim that there should be no separation of church and state and burning books such as The Catcher in the Rye (seriously why was this piece of crap banned?). It just seems like a a misdirected swing at the left.

Welcome to shitstorm that is contemporary American politics. Baldwins comments, though erroneous (From here on, im just going to state all my opinions as facts for simplicity) are consistent with his Libertarianism. He counts as a conservative, like republicans, but many Libertarians seem to consider Republicans crap compared to Democrats slightly worse shit. Libertarians are split here: Most count themselves as republican because its either have influence over one of the major parties and try to change it from within, or be a tiny minority that manages to be completely inconsequential unless Ron Paul is presently talking.

Basically, you have Democrates, who are Socially permissive, economically restrictive. For personal choices, do whatever you want as long as you don't hurt anyone, stay out of peoples private affairs, and leave religion out of politics. Gay marriage is fine, Science should progress, abortion is between you and your doctor, and show no preference to any religion. If the government gets involved, its to prevent private individuals from restricting a persons social choice. Economically, your looking at a more Keynesian approach. Heavier taxes, more regulation focused on the common good, a directed approach.

Republicans are the opposite. They are more socially restrictive, and more economically permissive, Getting involved in private life, enforcing values, and not getting involved when a private individual tries to limit another persons freedom. This is the mainstream of Americas Conservatives, and the social restrictiveness has lead to the loudest and most pushy of Christians to side with the Conservatives. Economically, they believe that the, "Invisible hand" of the market will do all the regulation needed: Anything that is harmful to the common good will be squashed by people no longer buying there product. How does this stop pollution? Exploitation of limited resources? Focusing on one niche of the market to the detriment of people who arn't in that market? Other shady business dealings? The answer is Magic, and a pigheaded belief that no effort needs to be taken for the world to be fair. Because bad things only happen to bad people, and the wealthy always deserve their wealth.

Then there's Libertarians. Libertarians are plain old permissive to the extreme, with a twist: The government is always bad. No effort needs to be made to give people social freedom. Any attempt to protect the socially downtrodden is really just an attempt to restrict the private individuals doing the trodding. And to be fair, government can be pretty inefficient. So in Baldwins case, The professor should be able to post anything, of any nature, and if people don't let him, it is because of the government overreaching its boundaries. Since the Left is known for protecting the downtrodden, he blames the left for trying to protect the students, to their detriment. The logic is that The left think they are protecting people, Libertarians think that people should protect themselves, and the righteous will overcome unless the guv'ment meddles.

Also, he probably blames the left because blaming one of the 2 major parties is the current favorite pastime of Americans, the left compose more of the educated public, particularly in the present system of schools, and only the most extreme of Libertarians don't at least try to cozy up to republicans in hope of getting their voice heard.

If you dont get the comment about Leftism killing free speech you should take a trip to Sweden. Anything that isnt pro-communism or that is even the least bit critical of leftist sacred cows (multiculturalism for example) gets censored from basically all kinds of media. Once I said that it was good that we now have a party that is critical of our immigration policy (which is basically let everyone who wants come in, nevermind regulations) if only for the fact that they spawn a debate, while i was shopping, and the girl working the cash register instantly called me a "goddamn right wing racist asshole" and that people like me shouldnt be allowed to vote. True story.

For example, this comment would have been branded racist and censored from all newspapers sites. Can you spot why?

Edit; Not saying rightwingers cant clamp down on freespeech but at least proper fascists have the common curtesy of letting you know when you arent allowed to say anything they dont like.

Xanadu84:

ike42:
Two, what's with the comment about leftism from Baldwin? As far as I can tell it's the right wing that's usually trying to clamp down on free speech. While I'm mostly moderate with views that swing towards both ends of the spectrum I have to take a little offense at that implication. The right wing is the one that's trying to systematically destroy the first amendment by making the claim that there should be no separation of church and state and burning books such as The Catcher in the Rye (seriously why was this piece of crap banned?). It just seems like a a misdirected swing at the left.

Welcome to shitstorm that is contemporary American politics. Baldwins comments, though erroneous (From here on, im just going to state all my opinions as facts for simplicity) are consistent with his Libertarianism. He counts as a conservative, like republicans, but many Libertarians seem to consider Republicans crap compared to Democrats slightly worse shit. Libertarians are split here: Most count themselves as republican because its either have influence over one of the major parties and try to change it from within, or be a tiny minority that manages to be completely inconsequential unless Ron Paul is presently talking.

Basically, you have Democrates, who are Socially permissive, economically restrictive. For personal choices, do whatever you want as long as you don't hurt anyone, stay out of peoples private affairs, and leave religion out of politics. Gay marriage is fine, Science should progress, abortion is between you and your doctor, and show no preference to any religion. If the government gets involved, its to prevent private individuals from restricting a persons social choice. Economically, your looking at a more Keynesian approach. Heavier taxes, more regulation focused on the common good, a directed approach.

Republicans are the opposite. They are more socially restrictive, and more economically permissive, Getting involved in private life, enforcing values, and not getting involved when a private individual tries to limit another persons freedom. This is the mainstream of Americas Conservatives, and the social restrictiveness has lead to the loudest and most pushy of Christians to side with the Conservatives. Economically, they believe that the, "Invisible hand" of the market will do all the regulation needed: Anything that is harmful to the common good will be squashed by people no longer buying there product. How does this stop pollution? Exploitation of limited resources? Focusing on one niche of the market to the detriment of people who arn't in that market? Other shady business dealings? The answer is Magic, and a pigheaded belief that no effort needs to be taken for the world to be fair. Because bad things only happen to bad people, and the wealthy always deserve their wealth.

Then there's Libertarians. Libertarians are plain old permissive to the extreme, with a twist: The government is always bad. No effort needs to be made to give people social freedom. Any attempt to protect the socially downtrodden is really just an attempt to restrict the private individuals doing the trodding. And to be fair, government can be pretty inefficient. So in Baldwins case, The professor should be able to post anything, of any nature, and if people don't let him, it is because of the government overreaching its boundaries. Since the Left is known for protecting the downtrodden, he blames the left for trying to protect the students, to their detriment. The logic is that The left think they are protecting people, Libertarians think that people should protect themselves, and the righteous will overcome unless the guv'ment meddles.

Also, he probably blames the left because blaming one of the 2 major parties is the current favorite pastime of Americans, the left compose more of the educated public, particularly in the present system of schools, and only the most extreme of Libertarians don't at least try to cozy up to republicans in hope of getting their voice heard.

Wow, long answer. Someone earlier made the point that the left wing tends to side with any views of political correctness and I partly agreed saying that blame should lie more with the lawyers making everyone scared of being sued for no apparent reason. I tend to base my viewpoints on no government restriction socially at all, but regulation is required in the financial sector to keep everyone honest (which they've proved they aren't in the slightest). I just don't thin, that in this case the left wing can be blamed because they aren't really the culprit. If you read the earlier stories it's really the one security guard who had to exercise his power just so that he could feel more important than he really is. Campus cops are retarded and as I stated before, they're little more than mall cops who are actually allowed to arrest people.

Wait a minute...i can't believe I'm reading this. Common sense has triumphed!? Oh, This is great. Nice to see that those Gorramned idiots backed down and let us have the poster put up, giving is some proof that every once in a while we can have Nice things.

Glad to hear this was a win!

Common sense has won? YAY!

Nice to see a poster doesn't mean you want to kill your students again.

Lovely, bitching has one again revoked a decision that didnt need the publicity it had.

to be honest... I didnt care that they were told to take it down. Somehow a poster telling someone how you're going to kill them doesnt exactly inspire safety and establish a comfortable environment. When we did our week of hockey in gym we didnt put up posters or videos of the best way to hit someone to cause the maximum legal amount of damage. We didnt talk about men such as Bertuzzi or Cooke or anyone on the Philadelphia Flyers and say "play like them cause its clearly working out" with heroic reverence.

but then again, I dont get hte massive hard-on I think (some) other people get over firefly (despite watching it), so that may have taken away some of the bias that probably interfered with reading the article.

 

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