ENMU professors explore freedom and rights at conference

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

More than 130 people showed up at the Becky Sharp Auditorium on Tuesday evening on a quest for answers to the question, What is the price of freedom?

Many of those in attendance were Eastern New Mexico University students who showed up to listen to communications professors talk about the infringement on Americans’ rights and the balance between Americans’ privacy and gaining intelligence on the war on terrorism.

Margaret Kirby, a communications professor, said she was enraged over the Sept. 11 incident where terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers in New York. Kirby was living in New York at the time and had a friend who lost a loved one in the terrorist attack.

However, even so, she doesn’t believe intelligence agencies should acquire information from public libraries on people and punish those who check out anarchist books.

Daniel Acheson-Brown, political science professor at said the United States is going about the war on terrorism the wrong way.

“As a cliché, people say we have to reduce our freedoms to be successful on our war on terrorism and I argue strongly that’s not the case,” Acheson-Brown said. “The key is intelligence. What we need is sustained, competent intelligence and security operations.”

Acheson-Brown said the answer is not to acquire library records and tap into e-mails, but rather to provide more training and resources to the Federal Bureau of Intelligence.

“I definitely agree with Dr. Acheson-Brown,” Thomas Maguire, an ENMU senior, said. “We’re going about the war on terrorism the wrong way. History repeats itself. This (method of gaining intelligence) is similar to McCarthyism and the Salem Witch hunts.”

The McCarthyism era took place in February of 1950 when Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy accused 57 people in the United States government of communism, according to an excerpt from McCarthyism by Albert Fried.

Patricia Dobson, instructor of communication, spoke about the rights reporters have and the freedoms they are allowed in the United States. Dobson said these rights are essential to keeping a check on government.

“A free press keeps other agencies in check,” Dobson said. “A free press is even more important during times of crisis. No country can be free without a free press. There will always be corrupt people in government. We take an issue and humanize it.”

Leon Aragon, a graduate assistant at ENMU, said he enjoyed the presentation and the multiple perspectives from those in the fields of broadcast journalism, print journalism, political and publishing backgrounds.

Dobson and Kirby teach print journalism. Acheson-Brown instructs political science and Christopher Stasheff teaches broadcast journalism.

Aragon said people forget the Oklahoma City bombing and remember more the Sept. 11 terrorism because there was more coverage.