Then How About Koch?
(Editorial from The Nation, 2 March 1964, pages 206–207))

      Revilo P. Oliver, a professor in the Classics Department of the University of Illinois and a member of the John Birch Society, recently got into the papers with a sensational article he had written for the society’s publication, American Opinion. Oliver asserted that Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested as a suspect in the shooting of former Major General Edwin A. Walker, but released “through the personal intervention of Robert F. Kennedy.” Of John F. Kennedy, Oliver wrote that he had been a Communist “working in close collaboration with Khrushchev,” and “if the international vermin succeed in completing their occupation of our country, Americans will remember Kennedy while they live, and will curse him as they face the firing squads or toil in a brutish degradation that leaves no hope for anything but a speedy death.”
Gary Porter, writing in the Daily Illini, calls attention to the parallel between Oliver’s case and that of Professor Leo Koch, who wrote a letter to that paper condoning pre-marital sexual relations. Unless that University of Illinois differs from all other American institutions of learning, a certain amount of extra-marital intercourse takes place among the students and even among the faculty. The subject is much discussed, and Koch trespassed only in that he did not condemn those goings on, but thought something might be said for the transgressing students. He was promptly fired.
The university says it has no intention of disciplining Professor Oliver. The university is to be commended. Oliver, like any other citizen, has the right to air his opinions, even when they are as offensive as they are in this instance. Free speech is not the privilege of the wise and judicious alone, but of everyone who has the good fortune to live in a democracy. Offensive views are precisely the ones that must be tolerated; if there is any merit to democracy, every variety of opinion will find its own level in good time.
But where does this leave the University of Illinois? Koch’s views, while offensive to some, were far less inflammatory that Oliver’s, and it is hard to see why one man should be dismissed and the other retained. In dismissing professor Koch, the university trustees asserted that he failed to make it clear that the letter presented only his individual views and that he was not writing as a spokesman for the university. But Oliver displayed his faculty position prominently in his American Opinion article, and it is the university, not Oliver, that has issued the required disclaimer.
If, then, the university is right now (as The Nation feels it is), then it was wrong in the Koch case. In the interest of its own reputation for consistency and equity, it should offer to reinstate Professor Koch.

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