Was State Representative Mike Stone threatening Central Carolina Community College because one of it’s radio show’s host wrote a blog piece that was critical of three bills that Stone introduced? It certainly appears that way according to a report from NC Policy Watch. The program “The Rant” is moving its show from the college airwaves to an independent podcast after an indefinite suspension from CCCC.
The article “Good job, Mike (Not really)” criticized what the writer and radio host, Gordon Anderson, felt was Representative Stone’s attempting partisan power plays through three bills he introduced. Anderson was also critical of what he considered the apparent Republican hypocrisy about local government’s control. He summed up his concerns by writing, “While we continue to struggle with unemployment and budgetary constraints, our representative in Raleigh is availing himself of the opportunity to dabble in local partisan politics. It’s a shame.”
On April 3rd, CCCC received an email from Susan Philips, Stone’s legislative assistant, with a link directly to the offending article. In it, she asked if the show as associated with CCCC . The next day they received another email from Ms. Philips asking about the shows budget and funding. Everybody knows that community colleges are funded through the state legislature. They can grant a fund or they can stifle a fund.
The next day, April 5th, the college’s president, T.C. “Bud” Marchant indefinitely suspended the show for reasons that are murky at best. In an email he told one of the hosts that it was suspended due to “some recent issues discussed on the Rant (WDCC 4-3-13),” However, Marchant later told the school’s board that it had nothing to do with content. Which is it?
While the dust has not settled yet on this issue, at this point, it looks like a major case of political bullying on the part of Representative Stone and his office. Are we at a point in this country where open conversations are no longer welcome? There used to be a time when such talk was seen as the grease that kept our government lubricated and moving. Are we at a point in North Carolina where partisan concerns outweigh our First Amendment Rights? President Marchant can attribute any reason he wants for the suspension, but the fact that it occurred a mere day after Stone’s second email to the college about funding looks an awful lot like the president was taking a threat seriously.
Does becoming a member of the state house elevate you above public criticism? I would thing the oppose is true? Do we want our elected officials threatening the citizenry and academia in this way? They can only do it if we let them.I thought one of things college was about was the free exchange of ideas and critical thinking. I guess in North Carolina it is unless you happen to be critical of Representative Mike Stone.
It doesn’t matter which party you call your own – free speech is a most sacred right in this country. When we suppress that in our colleges, then we are ultimately in danger of suppressing it everywhere.
For those of you who are responsible for electing Mike Stone to the House, you might want to pay attention to where this goes. If it goes as it appears to be going, remember, you put him there. You can also not put him there next time if you choose.