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Tony & Tacky
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February 4, 2005



PAUL GIGOT: Winners and losers, picks and pans, we call it Tony and Tacky, our choices for the best and the worst of the week. We begin at Hamilton College, a small liberal arts college in upstate New York, where they stirred up a national debate by inviting a guest speaker with some very controversial views. Jason, tony or tacky?

JASON RILEY: Well this is a tacky because Hamilton did the right thing in disinviting the speaker, Ward Churchill, but they did it for the wrong reasons. Churchill, who teaches at the University of Colorado, has written that the people who were in the World Trade Centers on 9/11 were not innocent victims. They were tools of capitalism that had it coming.

Now he's free to have those views, of course, and express them, but Hamilton is under no obligation to give him a forum to express those views and that's the reason that the speech should have been cancelled. Instead Hamilton College, said that the speech had to be cancelled for security reasons and I think that's an example of moral cowardice and a copout. In fact, I was discussing this issue with our colleague Dorothy Rabinowitz, who writes on campus issues, and she said something that's easy to forget every time a Churchill comes along. She said "You know, the purpose of our universities are not to stretch the limits of taste and free speech. They are for learning and scholarship." It's hard to see how someone like Churchill advances that cause.

PAUL GIGOT: Alright Jason. Thank you. Men who used to lead three of the biggest corporations in the country were on trial this week for various alleged misdeeds. Dan, what do you make of that?

DAN HENNINGER: Well, what I make is that the great CEO crime festival is about to begin in courtrooms all over America. Bernie Ebbers, Richard Scrushy and Dennis Kozlowski are all going on trial. This one is the case in which the needle starts at tacky and moves over to tony.

DAN HENNINGER: You know it used to be said in this country that you were innocent until proven guilty. Well, under the current media culture you are guilty until proven innocent. I mean we spend all our time heaping up reasons on television at night why these guys are true evil doers. Well I say thank heavens for defense lawyers and the American court system because everyone, no matter how big or small, gets their day in court.

Also juries in these cases have tended to take their jobs very seriously. At the end of the process, I think we are going to find some of these guys proven guilty and possibly one or two of them acquitted which says that, bad as our legal system is, it still has a lot of toniness left in it.

PAUL GIGOT: But you can't say that the wealthy and the rich were able to get off without being asked to be accountable. Okay Dan. Thanks. And finally the picture of the week. Two women, touched by death in Iraq, reaching out for each other as the president, the Congress, and the nation watched. Peggy Noonan chooses this as her tony.

PEGGY NOONAN: Oh Paul, I think words are one thing and words are important. But that beautiful human moment where the mom from Pflugerville, Texas, Byron Norwood's mother, Sergeant Byron Norwood of the Marines, when she was honored by the president, right after this Iraqi woman who had just been able to vote and you could see her finger was still tinged with purple. When that American mother being applauded bent down and embraced the Iraqi woman who had lost her father to Saddam, it just said so much more than any number of words could about courage and sacrifice and class and being about as tony as you can be in life.

PAUL GIGOT: You know there've been so many negative images from this war that we've seen with the explosions and people killed. Is this going to be the enduring image from now on, do you think, of Iraq or at least one of them?

PEGGY NOONAN: I think it'll be an enduring image of Iraq and one that will remind us all why we are there, what we are fighting for, what it means.

PAUL GIGOT: Thank you Peggy. That's it for this edition of THE JOURNAL EDITORIAL REPORT. Thank you from all of us. We hope you'll join us again next week.