Gov. Bill Owens has joined the fray over University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill’s controversial remarks about September 11. He’s calling for Churchill to be fired. Owens wrote a letter to be read at a Republican Rally at C.U. Boulder. It included these passages:

All decent people, whether Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, should denounce the views of Ward Churchill. Not only are his writings outrageous and insupportable, they are at odds with the facts of history. …No one wants to infringe on Mr. Churchill’s right to express himself. But we are not compelled to accept his pro-terrorist views at state taxpayer subsidy nor under the banner of the University of Colorado. Ward Churchill besmirches the University and the excellent teaching, writing and research of its faculty.

Enough is enough. This is not the standard by which we judge public employees or teachers, if the First Amendment is to have any meaning at all. If we use Gov. Owen’s standard, then he himself should step down since many taxpayers who “foot the bill” for his writings, like this letter, neither like nor respect his views. They are contrary to a free society–particularly one like our’s that was founded on prinicples like the open exchange of ideas and freedom to express oneself.

CU’s Regents are considering Churchill’s situation today. Late Tuesday night or early Wednesday, vandals went to Churchill’s home and painted swatiskas on his truck. Owens’ conduct only fuels the hysteria.

This incident is being blown out of proportion. It is taking on a life of its own and impaling the First Amendment in its wake. Churchill has resigned as Department Chair. That’s enough. There are no grounds to force him to resign from the University. Let’s move on.