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Libel and Academic Freedom

Libel and Academic Freedom: A Lawsuit Against Political Extremists

Arnold M. Rose
Copyright Date: 1968
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 300
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  • Book Info
    Libel and Academic Freedom
    Book Description:

    Libel and Academic Freedom was first published in 1968. Described as a “Communist collaborator” and a “security risk” in the literature of a right-wing extremist group, Arnold M. Rose brought suit on charges of libel against those who made the statements, Gerda Koch and others. In this book, Mr. Rose, who was a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota and president-elect of the American Sociological Association at the time of his death this year [1968], presents an account of the trial, which took place in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis in November, 1965. He also provides a thoughtful discussion of the various issues and events related to the trial and traces, as background, the history of right-wing extremist movements in this country. As Professor Rose makes clear, the significance of the case went beyond the question of personal libel because of the particular circumstances involved. For one thing, the basis of the controversial statements lay in his scholarly work as co-author of the book An American Dilemma with Gunnar Myrdal and Richard Sterner. Thus the issue of academic freedom was at stake. Another important consideration was the fact that, during part of the time the statements were made, Professor Rose was a member of the Minnesota state legislature and thus was a public official in the eyes of the law, a fact of special significance in connection with libel law. Also, there was the question of the kind of coverage which the local newspapers gave to the events leading up to the trial, and of a larger attack that was developing against the university. The author discusses all of these aspects of his case and points to some pressing problems in our society which he believes are highlighted by his own experience. The distinguished legal scholar Paul A. Freund, former Carl M. Loeb University professor, Harvard Law School, writes a foreword.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6426-9
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. v-x)
    Paul A. Freund

    Judge Learned Hand once remarked that he could not think of a more terrible personal ordeal, apart from a serious illness, than involvement in a lawsuit. The uncertainties, the unexpected turns, the continuing emotional drain, and the risk of heavy financial loss all combine to make the experience one not lightly or ill-advisedly to be entered into. When the lawsuit is brought for libel these elements are greatly intensified. Such an action is the subject matter of this absorbing book, written by the victim of the libel and yet presented in the third person with remarkable objectivity and detachment, as...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. 1 Overview: Big issues mirrored in little events
    (pp. 3-18)

    The great events of the world are mirrored in the small. In a libel suit tried in a Minneapolis courtroom in November 1965 were reflected the worldwide struggles between constitutional government and arbitrary government, between internationalism and the narrowest nationalism, between race hatred and respect for man regardless of race, between religious fanaticism and religious tolerance, between supporters and opponents of academic freedom. The case brought to public attention other important issues: the effort of right-wing extremists to make a shambles of American institutions such as the courts and the universities; the abuse of “freedom of the press” by reporters...

  5. 2 A Study: “America’s single most important domestic problem”
    (pp. 19-34)

    For the past several years, the Gallup Poll has shown that the American people most frequently name “civil rights” or the “race problem” as America’s single most important domestic problem. President Lyndon Johnson has also made the same observation. Newspapers throughout the country devote a great deal of space to reports about race conflict, Negro problems, and Negro progress. Scores of books, of every type, appear every year on the subject, as do innumerable television and radio and film programs. But until about twenty-five years ago, there was practically nothing on the Negro problem in the mass media. In fact,...

  6. 3 The Right-Wing Extremists: An Upper Midwest variation
    (pp. 35-52)

    Gerda Koch and her attorney, Jerome Daly, are what are called, in this book, “right-wing extremists.” Other writers have used such equivalent terms as “members of the radical right” or the “revolutionary right,” “new conservatives,” and “pseudo-conservatives” to categorize them. Senator Barry Goldwater, the nominal current leader for most of them, seemed to have accepted the appellation “right-wing extremists” for this segment of his followers in his famous speech accepting the nomination for the presidency at the Republican National Convention on July 17, 1964.¹

    This chapter is about the political and social movement of right-wing extremism, but not everything in...

  7. 4 The University: Professorial dignity and student ribaldry
    (pp. 53-69)

    The University of Minnesota is the largest university in the United States in terms of student population on one campus. It had over 37,000 fulltime day students on its main campus in fall 1965,¹ plus 16,000 students in its evening classes. It started as a land-grant institution and became one of the great state universities of the Midwest. While the midwestern and the Pacific Coast states have all done well financially by their state universities, Minnesota has been exceptionally generous to its state university, providing the highest contribution per capita of any state in the union.

    One reason for this...

  8. 5 The Minnesota Legislature: The political response
    (pp. 70-84)

    Rose was one of those people who could not conceive of running for public office — that is, he was until he was past forty years of age. He felt this way not because he despised politicians; quite the contrary, he thought of politics as the highest of callings, demanding the utmost of its practitioners, and offering the rewards of greatest possible achievement. He considered a legislator a kind of physician to the society. His reason for avoiding active politics was a sense of personal inadequacy for its tasks. Rose had grown up a shy person who had few friends, and...

  9. 6 The Irresponsible Press: A deeper problem
    (pp. 85-105)

    The Cowles publications are among the most respected in the United States. And rightly so. These publications are organized in two branches headed by brothers John and Gardner Cowles. John Cowles is president of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Company. Gardner Cowles is president and publisher of theDes Moines(Iowa)RegisterandTribune, and also headsLookmagazine. The policies of these publications have generally shown a high level of social responsibility. Editorially they usually support the Republican party, as do the great majority of newspapers in the United States, but occasionally theStarandTribuneeditors will support...

  10. 7 The Law of Libel: A right decision and dangerous dicta
    (pp. 106-128)

    Many people believe that when they have been robbed or swindled or their contracts have been violated, and the offending party is accessible, they ought to be able to go into a court of law and claim restitution. It isn’t that simple. In any orderly society, the statutes passed by a legislature are written in a general way to protect all citizens, so they cannot exactly fit every single case. Under the Anglo-American system, casemade law modifies the statutes to take care of the great variation in individual lawsuits and to avoid conflict between statutes. But even the courts cannot...

  11. 8 The Trial, I: The defense becomes a prosecution
    (pp. 129-156)

    November 1, 1965, was a warm, pleasant day for Minneapolis. Its cheerfulness only partly buoyed up the spirits of Arnold Rose as he and his wife drove downtown for the start of the trial. Rose had never before personally been in a lawsuit, although he had been in the witness box several times as an expert witness¹ in the trials of complete strangers. Still he recognized that his prospects were not very promising: He knew that the defense attorney had no scruples about making things difficult for him and that the law made his case seem very weak. Up to...

  12. 9 The Trial, II: The defense defeats itself
    (pp. 157-182)

    Court opened the next morning on time, and Rose was back on the stand for cross-examination by Daly. The spirit of the preceding day’s interrogation of Fraser continued. Daly began by asking Rose his conception of the government of the United States and of Soviet Russia. He soon got back to his questions about the Federal Reserve Banks and their taking over the power of Congress to coin money. Newhall objected on the ground that the subject was irrelevant.

    Daly: Your Honor, I take the position that the control of money and money manipulation is the common denominator of all...

  13. 10 The Trial, III: The jury renders judgment
    (pp. 183-212)

    The reader may think the author biased for devoting two chapters to the plaintiff’s case, and less than one chapter to the defendant’s case. But there wasn’t much of a case presented for the defendant — it consisted mainly of trying to get into the record more than two hundred books and articles, nearly all written by right-wing extremists and none of them having to do with Arnold Rose or the other authors ofAn American Dilemma.They dealt with the Communist conspiracy, with the Federal Reserve Banks, with the Council on Foreign Relations, with Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, with Chief...

  14. Epilogue: Lessons from a lawsuit
    (pp. 213-228)

    One of the prominent politicians of Minnesota — one of those who could not testify at the trial because he was away at the time — wrote a letter of congratulations to Rose after the trial, which said in part:

    I want to join with all the others in warmly congratulating you on your victory. I know that this was a victory for you personally but, in a far more important and broader sense, for rationality in public affairs, and a welldeserved slap at the irresponsible rightists who picked you as one of their many targets. Congratulations! You’ve done a great deal...

  15. APPENDIX I. Documents written by Gerda Koch and introduced as plaintiff’s exhibits
    (pp. 229-250)
  16. APPENDIX II. Bills introduced into the Minnesota State Legislature in 1963 on which Rose was co-author and which were claimed by another legislator to indicate sympathy toward Communism
    (pp. 251-254)
  17. APPENDIX III. Letter sent by the Faculty Legal Protection Committee to all members of the University of Minnesota faculty and enclosure on background of libel suit
    (pp. 255-260)
  18. APPENDIX IV. Letter sent by Paul B. Hurley to the clerk of the Minnesota House of Representatives, March 9,1963, and interrogatories filed by Mr. Hurley with the clerk of the District Court on February 3,1964
    (pp. 261-266)
  19. NOTES
    (pp. 269-279)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 280-287)