Reagan’s Rants
(everything from speech to nuts)


Let’s see what WSU really means by
Freedom of Expression.


Even COM administrators spout BS

MORE BS about budgets from administrators

WSU president Elson Floyd’s new salary and bonus package are an insult to students, faculty and staff.

WSU’s new president censors ideas he doesn’t agree with

What’s with the FCC anyway?

Open letter about the University’s reaction to “offensive” fliers

Here are some words I consider offensive (actually, I could, but I dont give a shit)

My list of words we need to censor because they come close to being offensive

Even COM administrators spout BS

My colleague and professor, David Demers, has a multi-year dispute with the College of Communication. He would like the mediation process for the dispute to be public. Unfortunately, the University likes to operate in secret, but they are not willing to admit that. Instead, in the news report, “Erica Austin, dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, justified the non-public nature of the talks between the two parties. ‘The university is limited in what they can say because we’re protecting the faculty member involved,’ she said.”

Do you see the BS in that statement? The faculty member doesn’t want to be protected. So, obviously, the university wants to protect its own ass, but it is unwilling to say so.

MORE BS about budgets from administrators

In June of 2009 President Floyd announced the final decisions on the budget. While expecting most people to tighten their belts, and eliminating programs and positions, all we get is BS about how administrators are joining the budget reduction. Specifically President Floyd states, “The Deans, Chancellors, Vice Presidents, and the two of us have voluntarily agreed to participate in and contribute to WSU excellence funds at an aggregate level of 5% of base salary. (For the president, this is in addition to the voluntary salary reduction of $100,000 referenced above.) This action will yield funds totaling nearly $330,000. Participation in this initiative will either occur through salary reductions or individual contributions. The payment method is at the discretion of each individual.”

We’re supposed to be analytical here at WSU. What does this really say?

1. No administrator is giving up a raise in salary. Instead, they are making contributions to the excellence fund “at the discretion of each individual.” Future salary is not in jeopardy. Note, also, that these are tax deductible contributions.

2. I’m getting really tired of the claim that the president had taken a reduction in salary (“For the president, this is in addition to the voluntary salary reduction of $100,000 referenced above.”). He got a $150,000 increase in salary; he gave back $100,000. That looks like a $50,000 increase in salary to me. And it does not affect future salary; he still gets the full $150,000 raise in the future. Don’t forget the half-million dollar retention bonus! When President Floyd forgoes the retention bonus and agrees to work for $1.00/year until the crisis has passed I will then believe he really cares about helping the University deal with its budget problems.

I would like the administrators’ actions to reflect their rhetoric, “It is now time for us to renew our commitment to building a stronger Washington State University deeply rooted in our obligation and responsibility to serve effectively our state as its exclusive land-grant research university.”

WSU president Elson Floyd’s new salary and bonus package are an insult to students, faculty and staff.

The Board of Regents voted to raise President Elson S. Floyd’s yearly salary from $600,000 to $750,000 at its meeting in August 2008. It provided a retention incentive of an extra $500,000. The increase is not just salary; remember to tack on benefits. (NOTE: the university recently announced that President Floyd “gave back” $100,000 of his salary. That gave the impression to my friends and neighbors that he refused his raise entirely. What a PR con job! He still retained some of his raise, kept his retention bonus and preserved his future raise.)

The Board of Regents cited increased enrollment, major grants and the expansion of important programs like the School for Global Animal Health as key accomplishments of the President.

The Board of Regents insults us all when it praises the President and ignores faculty and staff for our collective accomplishments. The Board must think we had little to do with increasing enrollments. It probably thinks students come to WSU because they are impressed much more by President Floyd than by the programs they plan to study. Likewise, the Board must believe it’s not the high quality of the College of Veterinary Medicine and other programs that brings grants or the establishment of nationally recognized programs.

For the past 15 years or so the University administration has pressured faculty and staff to do more with less, slowly chipping away at budgets. While salaries may have increased modestly in dollar amounts, “real” salaries have decreased as the University reduced its support of benefits (such as increasing workers’ contributions toward healthcare) and day-to-day costs. Professors often find themselves funding their own research, travel and other expenses.

When so many professors need only a few hundred dollars to seed a research project (and they are under pressure to increase their research productivity), that’s over 3000 projects that could have been funded if President Floyd had chosen to support education instead of his own bank account.

Students, too, have felt the pressure as their tuition increases have outstripped inflation.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Over the last 20 years the University has turned more to a corporate model of education. It’s become a hallmark of corporations in recent years for executives to demand higher productivity of their workers while lining their own pockets with huge bonuses and fiddling with the accounting to keep stock prices up, and at the same time driving the company into bankruptcy. That’s now happening at WSU.

No wonder morale suffers when the chief executive takes all the credit and gets the lion’s portion while workers get crumbs. Recent freezes on hiring and travel were begun by President Floyd (not just mandated by the State). He justifies this by saying we need to operate “in a fiscally responsible manner,” which, of course, does not apply to him.

WSU’s new president censors ideas he doesn't agree with

Elson S. Floyd, WSU’s new president, has issued “A Call for Civility” (, 10/17/07) in which he, like many other administrators, gives lip-service to “Universities must be places where the free exchange of ideas is not just protected, but encouraged.” Unfortunately, there is always a caveat. In his case it’s, “we do not want individuals on our campuses to feel threatened” and “civility and constructive discourse must always prevail.”

Administrators make these attempts to stifle speech when they disagree with the content of the speech in question. Buzzwords like “disrespect,” “degrade,” “feel threatened” and “offend” are used when they want an excuse to censor. The U.S. has a long history of trying to stifle speech with these same tactics. Civil rights marchers were arrested because people felt threatened; anti-war protestors were harassed because their message was offensive; people were arrested for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts; young adults in Spokane were arrested because some children felt uncomfortable about their clothing. Should pro-abortion or anti-abortion rallies be banned because some people feel threatened by the other side; after all, abortion clinics have been bombed, and anti-abortion protesters have been harassed.

How do I know that Dr. Floyd only wants to censor one type of message? If he were so concerned about people feeling threatened or uncivil no matter what the message, then he would not have limited his remarks to “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.” He would condemn all university events that make people feel threatened. Hey, Dr. Floyd, I feel threatened when I have to walk the mall and someone is yelling at me, “You’re going to hell.”

Should we remove “Vagina” from a theater marquee because people will be offended? Should “The Color Purple” be removed from school libraries because of “troubling ideas about race relations?” Should the mayor of Honolulu be allowed to censor “Last of the Believers” because the mayor thinks it is “controversial?” (No!)

Nothing in the First Amendment or Supreme Court opinions says that ideas need to be expressed civilly, responsibly or respectfully. Nothing in the First Amendment says you have to consider other people’s feelings or opinions. It’s only when someone wants to censor what they don’t like that we have to be civilized.

Maybe Dr. Floyd should be more concerned about actions rather than speech.


What’s with the FCC anyway?

1.  Why is it OK in a movie broadcast on TV to leave in “nigger” but dub over “fuck”, “goddamn”, “cunt” or “shit”?  Besides, don’t people who read lips “see” the word.  Why is it not OK to offend people who can hear yet OK to offend the deaf?

2.  Why is it that sex is so offensive but violence isn’t?  I’d rather see Janet Jackson’s tit than a quarterback’s leg snap in two.  I’d rather children watch people copulating than they watch people blowing away each other with shotguns.


Open letter about the University’s reaction to “offensive” fliers:

Universities engage in attacks on free speech when they disagree with the content of that speech. Outgoing president of Washington State University V. Lane Rawlins professed that WSU supports free speech, “We do have clear policies in support of free speech and assembly, and we will use all of our resources to support the right of the members of our community to exercise their rights on this campus.” Still, the University tries to curb speech it disagrees with. A significant example is WSU’s response to a “white unity” flyer distributed on campus. Howard Grimes, Dean of the Graduate School, e-mailed to faculty, staff and students:

“We live and function with a strong concept of free speech where any opinion may be expressed in a lawful manner. … Activities permitted by law sometimes target places and students in a manner that threatens their safety. Anonymous distribution of fliers under the cloak of darkness undeniably does not promote a sense of safety for all community members… All students, staff, and faculty [should] be alert to activities like those described above and report them to the police.” [Full text at:]

While admitting that the flyers were lawful activity, Dean Grimes declared that they threatened people’s safety. The Supreme Court has said that “fighting words” or threats can be restricted, but if there really was a threat why didn’t the University pursue legal action? I have seen the flyer; it contains no threat.

Dean Grimes also attacked the anonymous distribution of the flyers. There is nothing wrong with being anonymous. The courts have consistently upheld the right to remain anonymous in free expression. Recent protests against the use of the Indian mascot for the University of Illinois were upheld as lawful even though they were anonymous and in violation of that University’s rules. In a recent internet speech case, the Supreme Court said that anonymity “helps speech stay free,” and the Court overturned a Los Angeles ordinance that prohibited anonymous political pamphlets.

Dean Grimes finally encouraged us to report those engaged in free speech to the police. I can just shake my head in amazement at this!

University officials write this kind of letter when they disagree with the content of the expression. I have never received a letter from a University official decrying anonymous political leaflets distributed around campus near election day or other non-University postings on campus bulletin boards.

Dean Grimes should have limited his response to one sentence already in his letter: “As a society, we live and function with a strong concept of free speech where any opinion may be expressed in a lawful manner.” Period. That would have shown the University to be respectful of all opinions, not just those it supports. Protecting speech means protecting everyone’s speech, left or right, obnoxious or fashionable, right or wrong.

Organizations, universities, schools, governments and others (including Dean Grimes) who want to censor those they disagree with often resort to phrases like, “An enlightened academic community connects freedom with responsibility,” “Provocative ideas need to be presented lawfully and respectfully,” “It must respect the opinions of others,” “Educated people should be held to a higher level,” and so on. Nothing in the First Amendment or Supreme Court opinions says that ideas need to be expressed civilly, responsibly or respectfully. Nothing in the First Amendment says you have to consider other peoples feelings or opinions. Nothing says free speech is only for the uneducated. Nothing says you have to identify yourself.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say, “I believe in free speech, but…this is different.” “I believe in free speech except…when it disrespects religion. …when it degrades other people. …when it offends   (fill in the blank)   .” It boils down to, “I believe in free speech except when I don’t like it.”

Dean Grimes put the university community on notice that administrators will see if you express opinions the University doesn’t like. The University threatens: be careful what you say or write at WSU; someone may call the police.

Here are some words I consider offensive (actually, I could, but I dont give a shit):

All those phrases that use “Joe”:  Joe Blow, Joe College...

However, people named “John” should be most offended.  Who else is associated with death (John Doe) and excretory functions (“I have to go to the John”)? What about people named “Johnson” or “Dick?”

I don’t mind using “camera operator” instead of “cameraman”, but how can we use the word heroin when there isn’t a hisoin?  And what about hernia without hisnia?  Ahhhh, but all “her” words area also “he” words (heroin; hernia).


My list of words we need to censor because they come close to being offensive

I just read a newspaper story about the Idaho vanity plates that were recalled because they might be offensive. The family name is Udink (censors in ID thought “you dink”). This reminded me of other stories of words people want to censor because they come close to or sound offensive, like KKK (three strikeouts) or “niggardly.”

So here’s my list of words we need to censor because they come close to being offensive:

Spica, the star in Virgo
Chit, an I.O.U.
K-k-k-katy, an early 20th c. song
Fock, Soviet physicist
Kike, first name of many people
Fucking, a city in Austria
Bastard file
Bitch, my dog Phoebe is a bitch
Ho Ho Ho”...Santa
Hoe in my garden
Hoh Rainforest
Fokker, used by the Red Baron (not Snoopy)
Knocker. I just have a doorbell
Great Tit, Parus major
Wouldn’t you know it? pronounced, “wooden jew noh it?”
Ritz cracker
Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA)
Cheeses Christ
Retired pronounced “retard”
Spade sits next to the hoe in my garden
Spaghetti Bender Restaurant
Craps, what you shit in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas
Wankel rotary engine
Boob and Boobies (not the same, one is a human, one is a bird)
What is your golf handicap?

Remember, never get your meat where you get your bread