Haven’t we seen this movie before?

From the Friday LA Times:

When Wendy Gonaver was offered a job teaching American studies at Cal State Fullerton this academic year, she was pleased to be headed back to the classroom to talk about one of her favorite themes: protecting constitutional freedoms.

But the day before class was scheduled to begin, her appointment as a lecturer abruptly ended over just the kind of issue that might have figured in her course. She lost the job because she did not sign a loyalty oath swearing to “defend” the U.S. and California constitutions “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

The loyalty oath was added to the state Constitution by voters in 1952 to root out communists in public jobs. Now, 16 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main effect is to weed out religious believers, particularly Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

As a Quaker from Pennsylvania and a lifelong pacifist, Gonaver objected to the California oath as an infringement of her rights of free speech and religious freedom. She offered to sign the pledge if she could attach a brief statement expressing her views, a practice allowed by other state institutions. But Cal State Fullerton rejected her statement and insisted that she sign the oath if she wanted the job.

“I wanted it on record that I am a pacifist,” said Gonaver, 38. “I was really upset. I didn’t expect to be fired. I was so shocked that I had to do this.”

California State University officials say they were simply following the law and did not discriminate against Gonaver because all employees are required to sign the oath. Clara Potes-Fellow, a Cal State spokeswoman, said the university does not permit employees to submit personal statements with the oath.

“The position of the university is that her entire added material was against the law,” Potes-Fellow said.

In February, another Cal State instructor, Quaker math teacher Marianne Kearney-Brown, was fired because she inserted the word “nonviolently” when she signed the oath. She was quickly rehired after her case attracted media attention.

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3 responses to “Haven’t we seen this movie before?

  1. Who is Clara Potes-Fellow, and why doesn’t she quit, or at least apologize? I found that apologies may get old, and we should be media smart and prepare for hard questions in advance. Huh?

    http://clarapotes.blogspot.com/

  2. Are my comments not showing up because I quoted that url? hm…

  3. I think the URL caused it to be diverted by the built-in spam filter. I’ll see if I can fiddle with the options to prevent that from happening (it’s not the first time that a legitimate comment has been marked as spam because of an embedded URL).

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