Blog insult costs former UO professor her job

Trolling on a conservative blog, Deborah Frisch (a former University of Oregon professor) took things one step too far -- and lost her job at the University of Arizona. A liberal blogger, she had been engaged in a nasty back-and-forth with right-wing blogger Jeff Goldstein of (who is a former professor at the University of Denver), when she wrote this:

"You live in Colorado, I see. Hope no one Jon-Benets your baby ... If some nutcase kidnapped your child tomorrow and did to her what was done to your fellow Coloradan, Jon-Benet Ramsey, I wouldn't give a damn ... If I woke up tomorrow and learned that someone else had shot you and your tyke, it wouldn't slow me down one iota. You aren't human to me."

It didn't take long for both blogs to get overwhelmed with hundreds of comments. Many people had been calling for the UA to fire her - when she resigned, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

[Psychology department head Alfred] Kaszniak said he was not aware of Frisch's blog or her trolling behavior before the incident. Had she not resigned, he said an investigation of her actions would have been necessary.

The UA's Handbook for Appointed Personnel includes "an obligation to respect the dignity of others, to acknowledge their right to express differing opinions, and to foster and defend intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry and instruction, and free expression on and off the campus,"

Interviewed by the Eugene Register-Guard, she was apologetic:

Frisch, who taught in the UO psychology department off and on from 1988 to 2001, says she feels terrible about her comments.

"It was in very bad taste ... very, very, very horrible," she said in a telephone interview. "I don't think professors should do that. I crossed the line. I think what I did was unprofessional and wrong, but I don't think the punishment fits the crime."

Then again, sometimes even bad publicity is good publicity:

"I've been joking for a while that I want to be a left-wing Ann Coulter," she says, referring to the right-wing pundit. "As hard as it is to see right now, this is part of my career plan."


  • (Show?)

    "I apologize, it was now I'm hoping to make a career out of it."


    Looks like according to the terms of her employment, the punishment DOES fit the crime. And of course, since the punishment was self-inflicted, we'll never know if she would have been fired. I tell you what though, that was some of the nastiest invective lodged against another person that I've ever seen on a political blog.

  • Herb Ball (unverified)

    Being a Charter member of the London Road Chapter of the Right Wing Conspiracy, I was happy to see at least one of the blue people outed. And, this cretainly does confirm our right-wing impression about the faculty in major state universities. An, an additional, smart-aleck remark: You folks are going to be blue in another sense after November7, 2006.

  • Pete Forsyth (unverified)

    Sounds like the Harding technique.

    Anyway, we already have a Coulter. Name is Mike Malloy, spewing hate every weeknight on Air America. But is he helping? With commentators who are articulate, passionate, and truthful (I'd put Randi Rhodes, RFK Jr, Tom Oliphant in that list) where exactly is the need for people who lead with personal attacks? IMHO, that's exactly the aspect of the "neocon" mentality that we most need to rise above. For both strategic and ethical reasons.

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    "And, this cretainly does confirm our right-wing impression about the faculty in major state universities."

    You spelled "cretinly" wrong.

    But don't worry, you corrected your mistake when you made the assumption that all faculty in major state universities are alike.

    BTW, I hear you look exactly like Anne Coulter only your Adam's apple is smaller.

  • Jon (unverified)

    With commentators who are articulate, passionate, and truthful (I'd put Randi Rhodes, RFK Jr, Tom Oliphant in that list)

    Really? I would have put Randi Rhoads in the "Ann Coulter" pot myself. Last time I listened to Randi Rhoads (couple years back), she called for GW to be killed. Sounded like Coulter to me. Never listened to Malloy though...

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    Nah, Randi is nothing like Coulter. She gets a little wacko at times (was it really a plane that hit the Pentagon?) but she's an incredible talent. Few people can do a dead-on 5 minute rif on a subject the way she can. She does use irony and satire a fair amount, not everyone gets that.

    Malloy, on the other hand, is truly poisonous. I leap for the off-switch if I happen to hear his voice. The difference between him and Coulter is that no one important takes him seriously.

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    Jon, given how much the right wing noise machine dominates the media, I find it very hard to believe that Randi Rhodes could have ever called for the assassination of the President without everyone knowing about it. I mean, that's serious stuff.

    So until you come up with a real citation, I'll put that particular accusation in the "a right wing friend of a right wing nutcase told me" category.

    That said, I simply can't stand Ms. Rhodes. She simply never shut s up. I mean even during friendly interviews with very important Democrats and Liberals, she's constantly talking over them to the point where you can't even listen what they're trying to say. Even when I agree with her, it gets old rather quickly. I mean Rhandi, you've got 3 friggen hours, stop the diatribe and hold a decent conversation for 10 minutes, OK?

    Insofar as the Ms. Frisch story is concerned, I really have only two things to say. #1: The left does not need an equivalent of Anne Coulter's unique blend of pro-terrorist lies; we're patriots on this side of the fence, and she would do well to remember that. #2: This entire story is a classic example of right wing press bias of false equivalencies, searching for a story that just isn't there. If the Vice President of the U.S. acts in a manner unbefitting the stature of his office on the Floor of the Senate, then we have to find something equivalent on the Left. Hmmm. Democratic leaders don't do that? How about State leaders? No? A Democratic City Council member somewhere in the U.S.? Still nothing? OK, lets go with a random flame on that-thar interweb. A associate-lecturer is the same as dozens of high officials in government, including the Vice President, right?

    "Liberal media" my ass.

  • Sid (unverified)

    Steven, Ditto on Randi. Her talking over guests drives me nuts, so I stopped listening and switch over to The World and the following line-up on OPB at 3 o'clock.

  • Ron Myers (unverified)

    Steven, "...given how much the right wing noise machine dominates the media...". ROTFLMAO. I hope you sweetened that kool aid before you drank it.

    The story about Ms. Rhodes was noted by the usual folks over on the right see:

    But then it was a non-seller with the MSM because it made a liberal look bad. Just like you are not finding mainstream coverage of Ms. Frisch's comment.

    But all that is beside the point. What matters here is that she advocated sexually assaulting and killing a 2 (or 3) year old girl. That statement is just as indefensible as Ann Coulter calling for the killing or other countries' leaders on 9/12/01.

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    It may be just as indefensible, but Frisch wasn't doing it a) for money, or b) as part of her professional career. As reprehensible as it was, it was a mistaken personal outburst in an obscure place. Coulter specializes in intentional hate, designed to reach as wide an audience as possible, to fatten her bottom line. That's why Coulter's perhaps the ugliest woman in America, not her somewhat transgendered appearance.

  • Mister T (unverified)

    When a liberal blogger (like Frisch) suggests that an ideological foe AND HIS BABY merit victimization by homicidal violence, that's protected speech.

    But when Coulter suggests that some 9/11 widows are exploiting their spouse's deaths for their own political purpose, she's a heartless bitch?

    Is that what you mean TJ?

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    As far as I can tell, both are uttering protected speech, and both appear (from their comments) to be "heartless bitches." There may be some question for both as to their advocacy for action to be taken based on their words, but on balance I'd acquit both of them.

    But what I mean is what I said, despite Mr. T's diversionary attempt. The "liberal" in this example got frustrated and blew her top in a disgusting way...which led to her apology and loss of her career. The "conservative" in this example intentionally says disgusting things for a living...which has led to a recurring slot on Fox News and big book sales.


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    Cybercast News Service: Why do you consider abortion the holiest sacrament of the liberal "religion"? Ann Coulter: It's their version of virgin sacrifice. The Democrats will betray any special interest group -- except the pro-abortion ladies. If you mean why is it the holiest sacrament of the liberal religion, it is because they think if women have access to easy abortions, they can engage in carefree trysts without consequence.

    Ann Coulter says here that Democrats value abortions as a holy sacrament--the holiest--so they can fuck without consequence.

    And faux news outlet CNS eats it with a spoon.

  • Mister T (unverified)

    TJ: I believe your confusing Ann Coulter's rhetoric (which frequently exaggerates to make a point) with her underlying belief that Liberalism is turning a blind eye to infanticide. Randi Rhoads uses the same device on a daily basis, and I haven't heard anywhere near as much righteous bellyaching as with Coulter.

    Clearly, she's using some combination of satire and irony that doesn't translate well from T.V. to print. But does anybody really believe that "virgin sacrifice" exists in any "Conservative religion"?

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    Sorry, Mr. T--no moving the goalposts again. You raised a point equating Frisch and Coulter. Rhodes is not part of the discussion.

    Amazing how you unilaterally decide she's using satire and irony, instead of just being a hateful, shrill, small-minded person who knows exactly how she has to whore herself out in order to continue getting attention from other conservatives.

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    I didn't bring up that list of names to start an argument over who likes who. I named Rhodes, Kennedy, and Oliphant as examples of liberal commentators who are articulate, passionate, and truthful, and contrasted them with Coulter's and Molloy's tendency to lead with personal attacks.

    Anyone care to comment on the value of those approaches to the progressive cause? Let's just assume that we disagree on who is fun to listen to. Remember, we're (mostly) liberals around here...of course we disagree on the particulars!

    Jon's, re: the Bush bit on the Rhodes show, you're out of touch. Randi's staff put together a bit that was in rather poor taste (but not awful, and not subject to her explicit approval...she claims she didn't hear it ahead of time.) She apologized for it. You can google it to confirm my story if you like...but you probably won't find much, because it's a non-story that died a year or so ago.

    Anyway - what do you guys think about the tactics of using misinformation, exaggeration and personal attacks to achieve political goals? I contend that approach is central to Coulter and Molloy's approach. Hell, Coulter is trying to reclaim the legacy of Joe McCarthy! I also conted the others I mentioned - however much some of you may dislike them for other reasons - do not stoop to that level.

    Simply aspiring to be a "left-wing Coulter" is such a preposterous ambition to me, I'm amazed such a person could have become a university professor at two different schools. Losing her job (by her own choice or otherwise) seems entirely appropriate.

  • (Show?)

    One Ann Coulter of any kind of too many. I hope that doesn't w3ork out. I also hope she doesn't start doing anger managment counseling.

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    I also hope I learn to proofread before I send messages.

  • bad Randi (unverified)

    As a regular listener of both Michael Savage and Randi Rhodes I can say without hestitation that Rhodes is by far the most caustic and insulting host on the airwaves. Her venemous portrayals of Republican motives and character are worse than the hate speach of Savage on liberals.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)

    Not a very impressive discussion going on here.

    My question: Given everything else going on in the world that could be discussed, who decided this was a more important "In The News" item? Was this done mainly to drive up the readership numbers up and, for many blogs, that would drive up advertising rates? Or is this just some kind of ham-handed exercise that is part of the efforts of political organizations and candidates who are trying to get a sense of the mood of the electorate in this election cycle?

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    If it bores you, don't read it.

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    My question: Given everything else going on in the world that could be discussed, who decided this was a more important "In The News" item?

    I had a busy day yesterday and didn't even get online--so I missed this post. But it's quite clear why it's news: a professor was forced to resign for speech made outside the context of her professional work.

    What she said was reprehensible--a fact she acknowledged. (Something none of the hate-speech headliners mentioned on this thread ever do.) But the context of the comments are quite relevant. She wasn't getting paid to make them, nor was she part of any movement designed to destroy enemies. She got in a private debate and said something unwise.

    But the most newsworthy thing may be this: the university code for which she was to be investigated was one of those dreaded "political correctness" items righties have spent a generation screeching about. So, when the speech is a racist slur made by a white, conservative professor, it's "irreverent," but when a woman excoriates a white man, it's time to start the witch trials.

    Looks to me like the righties are starting to get a little PC.

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    Jeff...I think that's a bit of a stretch - lots of professions have standards of professional conduct that extend outside of official duties. (OLCC chief lost her job for driving drunk.) I don't see a connection between that and "political correctness." The whole PC mindset seems ridiculous to me, but I don't see any problem with a university holding its professors to certain standards. And I don't feel like a hypocrite, or a rightie.

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    "bad Randi"--I'll take your bet. Choice Savagisms:

    Christianity has been one of the great salvations on planet Earth. It's what's necessary in the Middle East. Others have written about it, I think these people need to be forcibly converted to Christianity but I'll get here a little later, I'll move up to that. It's the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings.

    on Zarqawi:

    SAVAGE: Here's the headline in the Chronicle, the shameful newspaper of the area: "How Aide's Betrayal Doomed al-Zarqawi." In other words, not the guts of the pilots, not the guts of the special forces, not a year and a half worth of work, but the betrayal of the aide. In other words, he's sort of a Jesus figure now to the liberals, and he was turned in by an aide.

    He was an altogether piece of human offal, you know. He was like a Murtha -- he was like a human Murtha.

    on Nick Berg's killing:

    There was nobody worse today than Senator Mark Dayton, Democrat of Minnesota as he calls putting panties in the head of cold blooded murderers atrocities. Listen to clip six.

        DAYTON: Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I thank you Mr. Chairman for holding today's hearings and for your resolve to face these atrocities. You're an honorable man.
    Shut this atrocity up. Mark Dayton is a human atrocity for saying this, but he's really just a little cog in the wheel of Liberalism. I used to say that Liberalism is a mental disorder. I don't think it's a mental disorder. Nope. I think it's far worse than that. I think this kind of Liberalism is suicidal behavior. An act of suicidal behavior.</blockquote>

    on Democrats in general:

    Carl Levin and Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, The New Yorker, CBS have destroyed the war effort against terror. And if, God forbid, a suitcase bomb goes off you'll know who to blame. I'm -- hey I'm not going to mince words, there's no grey zone here. It's black and white, it's them versus us and the enemy within on their side.

    on the left in general:

    Tell me the difference between Al Qaeda seeking to hurt us financially and the left of America. Tell me the difference between Osama Bin Laden and the ACLU. Tell me the difference between the ACLU, tell me the difference between the People For the American Way, tell me the difference between Elliot Mincberg, legal director for the People For the American Way, a radical leftist civil liberties group. ... Tell me the difference between those groups and Al Qaeda, in terms of what their intent is. I'd like to know.

    Bring the Randi...

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Some college professor gets snarky and has to resign, while W's brain, Karl Rove, aka "Turd Blossom" gets flowers on his desk for outting a CIA agent, PUTTING HER LIFE IN DANGER, which Daddy Bush says is a "death penalty" offense.

    Kook, kook, kooky world we live in folks.

    A traitor gets flowers and the other side gets fired.

    I blame the liberal media, right Kari?

  • (Show?)

    Just a side note adding to Sid's comment:

    When you "out" an active (or recently active) CIA case officer, you also "out" the entire network in which she is (was recently)involved. Every contact that she's made through her front company, at cocktail parties, in cafes etcetera goes under the microscope in Amman, Tehran, and so on.

    It's not unreasonable to assume that the Vice President and his little band of thugs are responsible for at least scores of deaths. At the very least, all of these assets are now former assets.

    If Cheney and Rove were Democrats, the Howling Right would be calling for treason trials.

  • Randi bad (unverified)

    "Bring the Randi..."?

    She's on at 3:00 KPOJ 620 AM

    Go listen and if you can't recognize her hate speach for what it is there's no sense bringing you anything.

    "It's not unreasonable to assume that the Vice President and his little band of thugs are responsible for at least scores of deaths."

    Exactly what Randi says. Of course she flavors it up with extreme verbal assaults far worse than Anne Coutler,

    How reasonable!

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    yeah, that's what I thought. You can say it, but you can't back it up.

  • Scott McLean (unverified)

    It's always the controversial types who succeed to shock their way to superstardom, yet the real issues seem to get buried in the mud that the candidates, commentators and radio talk show hosts throw at each other. Pardon the expression, but they suck!

    I always think it's a joke when the extremists try to say that moderates don't matter.

    I blame those radio talk show hosts who whip people up into a frenzy and make them think it's alright to smear others and make outrageous statements. Just listen to some of the major talk shows, and you will hear all kinds of irresonsible comments.

    And then, of course, in government there continues to be so many irresponsible decisions being made that it seems incredible and shocking. I mean, look at all the wasteful spending in the war on terrorism. Congress just sort of rubber stamps whatever budget the President requests. Conservatives don't even know what it means to be conservative anymore. I thought it had something to do with living within our means, but I could be wrong.

  • Rebel Dog (unverified)

    Still never met a psychologist that didn't need one...

  • Sandi Walker (unverified)

    Is this Wayne Kinney who posted a comment the one who used to live in Columbus Ohio and work for ABB?

  • sczqtip hgwbf (unverified)

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  • akrcp mocir (unverified)

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