Portland student reporter fired for reporting public statement about Islam’s demonization of nonbelievers

This story, of course, is covered by only right-wing sites (e.g., here, here, and here), but do you expect the liberal press to report on the left-wing vindictiveness of the student press? At any rate, we have video documentation and the testimony of the reporter himself.

The skinny: Andy C. Ngo, a student reporter who works for the student paper Vanguard, was covering (apparently unoffically) a student interfaith panel held April 26 at Portland State University, a notorious home of Regressive Leftist Students—and also of my friend Peter Boghossian, mentioned below.  The College Fix then reports what happened:

Ngo has covered the persecution of atheists and “apostates” in Muslim countries for The Vanguard, and he’s a member of Freethinkers of PSU, which was represented on the panel by student Benjamin Ramey.

After the Muslim student, who organized the panel, took a question about whether the Koran actually permits the killing of non-Muslims, Ngo started recording video. He ended up posting a 40-second clip, and a few hours later, a longer contextual clip with audience response.

Two clips—a longer one and an excerpt, were published by Ngo on Twitter, and here they are:

Here’s what the Muslim student (charitably not named by Ngo, maybe because the student would be threatened by fellow Muslims for speaking the truth) said about Qur’anic dictates on killing non-Muslims:

And some, this, that you’re referring to, killing non-Muslims, that [to be a non-believer] is only considered a crime when the country’s law, the country is based on Koranic law — that means there is no other law than the Koran. In that case, you’re given the liberty to leave the country, you can go in a different country, I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. So you can go in a different country, but in a Muslim country, in a country based on the Koranic laws, disbelieving, or being an infidel, is not allowed so you will be given the choice [to leave].

Here’s a longer clip:

Ngo reports about the longer clip:

This longer video includes a response by someone in the audience who disagreed with the speaker, saying it was “perfectly okay for non-Muslims to live in Muslim lands.” The audience member cited the existence of religious-minority communities in the Middle East as an example of Islamic tolerance.

Although Ngo says he shared the tweet with two colleagues at the Vanguard beforehand, with neither expressing concern, he was fired from the student paper four days later. For recording unofficially? Nope. Read on; this from Ngo’s own account at The National Review (my emphasis):

Four days later, the editor-in-chief of my school newspaper called me into a meeting. The paper’s managing editor was also present. They asked me about a Breitbart piece describing the event. It was the first time I’d seen the piece, which included my tweets and a tweet from one of the panelists. My editor, whom I deeply respected at the time, called me “predatory” and “reckless,” telling me I had put the life and well-being of the Muslim student and his family at risk. She said that my tweets implied the student advocated the killing of atheists. Another person in the meeting said I should have taken into account the plight of victimized groups in the “current political climate.” The editor claimed I had “violated the paper’s ethical standards” by not “minimizing harm” toward the speaker.

. . . In my defense, I told the two editors that I had simply been relating the speaker’s words. While dozens of Muslim states do not consider apostasy or blasphemy a crime, 13 Muslim-majority countries punish these actions with death. The speaker was admitting as much, and as someone who has covered the persecution of atheists and apostates in Muslim countries, I considered that newsworthy. Nevertheless, my editor turned to me and said, “We have to ask you to step aside.” She said I had “a history” of affiliation with conservative media, and argued that that history was toxic to the “reputation of the Vanguard.”

The Vanguard’s own account of the event, “Interfaith event sparks misunderstanding, goes viral”, does its level best to minimize or distort what happened:

Widely shared video clip leaves out event context

A video clip featuring only a portion of the organizer’s quote that addressed the Quranic law about non-believers or infidels being “given a choice” has been shared on Twitter and Facebook without the preceding and following context. This comment from the organizer, widely shared out of context was met with significant criticism by audience members who accessed it through social media and right-leaning media outlets. [JAC note: the paper shows screenshots of Ngo’s tweets, but gives no links, so there’s no way to check what the student really said.]

Another panelist, Benjamin Ramey, the representative secular humanist, also of Freethinkers, replied to the original tweet.

“As one of the panelists present at this event I would like to say that this speech is not taken out of context,” Ramey tweeted.

PSU Assistant Professor of Philosophy Peter Boghossian contributed to the Twitter conversation as well.

“The same people who want to punch ‘Nazis’ are completely silent when it comes to certain people advocating mass murder,” Boghossian wrote.

Well, the Muslim panelist clearly wasn’t advocating mass murder, but simply reporting the sentiments of those Muslims who do, which in fact is the law in some Muslim countries. And for reporting that truth, Ngo was fired. The craven Vanguard added an editor’s note at the end of its piece:

Editor’s Note: The video clip mentioned in this article was originally shared on the personal social media accounts of a former editor and contributor to the Vanguard who is no longer working for the organization. While these clips were not produced or distributed by the Vanguard, the organization and its members have a responsibility to uphold ethical standards on all fronts. 

It is our assessment that this video clip was published and shared without context in a way that placed a PSU student in significant danger. As members of the PSU community, we are compelled to protect and support this student and urge readers to consider the explanatory nature of these comments and recognize the event’s intent to foster inclusion and understanding. What could have been a dialogue of mutual understanding became a source of pain and fear for some of those involved.

The Vanguard is committed to minimizing harm and providing context that takes special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story, as per the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.  

Markedly biased media outlets have featured the event organizer’s comments without necessary context. The Vanguard does not endorse, condone or support the way this student was represented by said media outlets. We vehemently reject any association with this type of dangerous misrepresentation.

Note again what happened: a Muslim student, not named, simply agreed that the policy of some Muslim countries, based on the Qur’an, is to either allow the killing or banishment of apostates and infidels (and, of course, gays). To simply state that in public is deemed harmful, reckless, and “predatory.” And why did the clip place the student in danger? What kind of danger? Would his fellow Muslims try to harm him for simply reporting what some Muslim countries do? If so, then extremist Muslims have achieved a remarkable goal: not just prohibiting criticizing of the faith, but preventing reporting of what happens when the faith becomes part of law. It’s like saying someone’s in danger when he says that Saudi Arabia won’t let women drive.

Now the Bible mandates death for those who curse their parents or work on the Sabbath, and advocates genocide and slavery. If a Christian panelist said that, would it be deemed harmful? Perhaps not, because no country has made “Biblical morality” its official law, though some Islamic countries have sharia law as official law.

And simply for reporting that truth, a student was fired. This is, of course, part of the Left’s decision to throw atheists, women, and gays under the bus in favor of extolling Islam.  The reason, as we all know, is that the Authoritarian Left considers Muslims people of color, and oppressed to boot. Well, in many places Muslims themselves oppress other Muslims (Sunni vs. Shia), gays, women, and atheists—to the extent of officially calling for their murder. These sentiments are not only ignored by reprehensible papers like the Vanguard, but are protected by them, to the extent that honest reporting of Islamic perfidy is censored. Such papers wouldn’t, however, quash reporting of those Baptist sects which demonize homosexuality.

What we have here is a double standard based on pigmentation alone—and perceived pigmentation, for many Israelis could be deemed “people of color.” But you’ll never hear them called that.

Shame on the Vanguard and its cowardly reporting. A paper that not only ignores the inconvenient truth but covers it up is a disgusting paper.

46 Comments

  1. BJ
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Yup, read about this yesterday. Look, anything that will make a group at the top of the regressive’s oppression hierarchy look bad will be punished, and the excuse will always be that it somehow puts people in danger or is an enactment of violence. They haven’t just corrupted culture, but language itself.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    If this is an example of what Portland State University and their “student” newspaper considers journalism, they should scrap it and find something else to do. If they wish to follow the rules of some other country, perhaps they should consider moving where they feel safer. The behavior is pathetic. When we shut down the truth for a manufactured reason we are not following any constitution I am familiar with. Very similar to what Trump is attempting to do with the investigation into his actions.

  3. Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    the student was clipped and shown (which would identify him/her), apparently without consent. Bad journalism. Won’t do.

    Vebatim reporting would have sufficed. Alternatively, the student’s permission should have been maintained.

    I am appalled by cases of critcism of Islam being suppressed, but this is a very bad instance to use as an example.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Just asking, but does a reporter need permission to record a speaker at a public event? I wouldn’t think so.

      • BJ
        Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        Absolutely not.

    • redpony
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Granting your argument for a moment, don’t you think it would have been incumbent on the editor to use this as a teaching moment for Mr. Ngo, who is also a student? How to use Twitter in a more journalistically ethical way? Doesn’t his firing instead reflect the current environment where administrators are covering their asses at the expense of others (esp students) as they are very fearful of getting in the crosshairs of fascist SJWs?

    • ploubere
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      Really? A reporter is expected to protect the identity of anyone who speaks in a public forum, and to get permission to publish their statements? I teach in a journalism school, and worked at several newspapers. Never heard that rule.

      • Craw
        Posted May 14, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        And Paul Braterman only talks about this one student. By his assertion here the report would have been just as objectionable had this student given permission, as others in the video did not. Rank apologetics.

    • mikeyc
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      What is apalling is your understanding of journalism. The same is true of the “editors” of the Vanguard. It was a PUBLIC discussion panel, forcryinoutloud.

    • Posted May 14, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      It was a public event. Probably everybody in the room had the means to record everything the panel said and post it on Twitter or whatever.

      Please don’t try to justify what this newspaper did.

    • Craw
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Rank apologetics. I clicked through your name to your blog. I see the picture of a woman, with her name given, on one of the articles. Where is your permission form?

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    There is a follow-up on the Vanguard’s website, which argues that Ngo was fired for mischaracterizing the speaker’s words:

    The problem was that he initially shared the quote as a stand alone clip that summarized the speaker’s point to say, “Apostates will be killed or banished in an Islamic State.” This seemed straightforward and simple enough, and, from an ethical standpoint, was a dangerous oversimplification that violated very clear ethics outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists.

    The speaker did not say the words used to caption the video when it was shared. Only later, after being prompted, did Ngo provide further clips showing follow-up dialogue that describe the history of Muslims and non-Muslims living peacefully throughout history with an emphasis on innocent lives.

    The problem with this is that Ngo’s initial tweet did not quote the speaker, and it was a fair summary of his words. Was it “dangerous” and an “oversimplification” and a violation of ethics? It would have been helpful if the editor cited specifically which tenet of journalistic ethics Ngo violated. The only one that seems like it might apply is “provide context.” This is summarized as “Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.” It cannot be honestly argued that Ngo misrepresenting or oversimplified the speaker’s comments.

    Ngo’s firing seems like a knee-jerk reaction, and the justification is Trump-like in its scattershot approach.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      I would say this regarding good verses bad reporting. Journalist would do well to stay off of twitter and reporting one liners. That is not professional journalism. Looks more like what a president might do.

      • DrBrydon
        Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        I don’t disagree with that in the least.

      • Posted May 14, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        However this plays out, that point is of utmost importance, imo. Tweets and journalism should not mix except maybe to bring up something inconsequential or advertise for readership, since Tweets cannot provide important context.

        • Posted May 14, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

          It would be ok if including a link to a fuller account.

      • jay
        Posted May 14, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        Ah but there’s the entertainment angle.

        The other day he tweeted, linking a tweet by Rosie O’Donnell in December demanding he fire Comey. He simply said… looks like we agree on something.

        She pulled her tweet.

        Loved it.

        • Posted May 14, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

          “She pulled her tweet.”

          No she never did, but I guess it’s an entertaining claim in the eyes of his supporters.

          • jay
            Posted May 14, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

            Don’t know. Some accounts say she did, maybe she didn’t.

            It is funny that the opposition depends on who does the firing, which is what I find humorous.

            Like when Colbert announced the firing during his show… there was initially applause… but like the Mark Antony speech in Julius Caesar, the crowd was quickly brought into the new party line.

            • Posted May 14, 2017 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

              “It is funny that the opposition depends on who does the firing, which is what I find humorous.”

              I think most reasonable people’s opinion would have changed. I absolutely think it would have been the right thing to have fired him following his behavior during the election, but now when he’s in the midst of an investigation of Trump it’s the wrong thing. Trump, and his surrogates are trying to spin it as though nothing has changed, and if you thought he should have been fired 5 months ago you should feel the same way now, which is ridiculous.

  5. Malgorzata
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    sub.

  6. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Hey, it’s even ok to demonize Christian Uganda for proposing a death penalty to gays even though it is largely occupied by people of color.

    Al Franken on Jerry Falwell being quoted out of context on 9/11:

    “On 9/13 Falwell went on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club and blamed certain Americans for the events of that horrible day. Americans like me, and probably like you.
    Falwell was widely criticized for his remarks. he said he was quote out of context. So I did a LexisNexis search and got the exact transcript.

    Now the only way I fiuigre that could have been taken out of context is if it had been immediately preceded with “I’d have to be a phuquing nut to say…” [spelling altered by moi-JLH]

  7. Posted May 14, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    sub

    • nicky
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      PC Police.
      Don’t they see how odious and dangerous that is? this is action worthy of communist and fascist regimes, KGB and Gestapo methods.

    • BJ
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      I actually emailed that story and a few other bias incident response team stories to him earlier today. I’m hoping he’ll do a post on the whole thing. It’s sweeping the nation: colleges creating groups of student police to rat on their fellow students (and get paid for it!) for saying things that don’t fall in line with regressive values. It’s an Orwellian nightmare.

    • Michiel
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 2:55 am | Permalink

      “This position is currently closed. We are in the process of reviewing the title and responsibilities.”

      Guess they received some pushback…

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    … (charitably not named by Ngo, maybe because the student would be threatened by fellow Muslims for speaking the truth) …

    That’s a bit gratuitous, boss.

    • Craw
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Not at all. It elegantly ripostes the unfounded implication in the Vanguard statement.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    The Muslim student who stands up in the extended clip and says that ISIS members “aren’t Muslim” — One can argue that ISIS’s doctrinal beliefs are based on a misinterpretation of the Qur’an, but they are clearly Muslim. His assertion recalls the claims of hard-shell Baptists that Catholics aren’t Christians.

    Plus, he commits the fallacy of composition — just because Muslims and non-Muslims live in harmony in some countries doesn’t mean that they do so in all Muslim-majority countries, or that the one true interpretation of Quranic law provides that they should.

  10. jay
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    This is moving in the direction a number of European countries have already gone, in which truth is not a defense.

    Newspapers cannot print information about crimes where the information happens to identify the criminal and could be considered ‘contributing to disturbing the peace’. Hence in some cases (such as Sweden) identifying the neighborhood where the crime occurred can be blocked if, for example, it’s a Muslim enclave. This is coming to outlets like facebook and Twitter, with demands that ‘illegal’ content posted by individuals be taken down within hours. The rule in Germany would even remove the protection of pseudo anonymity by requiring the sites to provide that info on request by anyone offended.

    • BJ
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      And that’s how you end up with situations like the one in England, where over 1500 underage girls were raped or sexually assaulted by roving gangs of Muslim men, because the police were too afraid to investigate or make any arrests lest they be seen as racist. The same thing is happening in journalism. We can only report the misdeeds of those with “privilege,” because reporting the truth no matter what might somehow abstractly hurt the “underprivileged” (using these quoted words in accordance with their definitions in regressive ideology).

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 14, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Not gonna happen in the US of A. We have 225 years of case law interpreting the First Amendment standing as a bulwark against such nonsense.

      Hell, the truth-as-a-defense doctrine precedes the First Amendment, dating back to colonial times, when Andrew Hamilton successfully defended John Peter Zenger on charges of seditious libel against the governor of New York.

      • stanmann
        Posted May 14, 2017 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        It is certainly to be hoped that it couldn’t happen here. But having some familiarity with Law and History, I’m not as sanguine as you. First, who in his/her right mind would have seriously considered that an egomaniacal, narcissistic, thin-skinned, authoritarian, misogynistic, impulsive, ignorant bully would now occupy the White House? And as just one example of Law gone awry, consider the Sedition Act of 1917 and the Espionage Act of 1918. The language of those laws made it a crime to “willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of the Government of the United States” or to “willfully urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of the production” of the things “necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war.” Such “violations” could–and did–get people up to twenty years in prison. And note the recent cases where whistleblowers have been prosecuted under antispy laws. Were another 9/11/01 type catastrophe to occur while Trump is in power, I fear it COULD happen here. Or is my dread just another symptom of the ravages of advancing senescence?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 14, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

          I wrote a little bit here about the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1917-18 in the context of the anti-immigrant hysteria that swept this country in the early part of the last century. Between that go-round, and the nation’s earlier misadventure with the Sedition Act of 1798 under John Adams, I don’t think we’re likely to go down that path again any time soon.

          Nevertheless, your concerns regarding espionage, spying, and general invasions of privacy are well-taken, I think. As you say, we may be only another 911 away from a substantial problem there.

          My comment that you’re responding to was focused on a more narrow issue of law regarding a specific constraint on freedom of the press. I think the doctrine that, under our First Amendment, the press can never be prohibited or punished for publishing the truth remains robust and safe.

          • stanmann
            Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

            think you’re right, but let’s not forget that Trump’s White House Chief of Staff earlier this year admitted in a TV interview that the Administration “has considered and continues to consider amending or even abolishing the 1st Amendment because of critical press coverage of President Trump.” (Talking Points Memo’s quote on 4/30/17, describing that interview). Unlikely to happen….sure, but definitely within the realm of the possible; after all, look who’s the current occupant of the White House. Proof positive, that nightmares can come true. The barbarians are no longer at the gates; they’ve breached the walls and are now running amok within the curtilage!

      • BJ
        Posted May 14, 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        My concern isn’t about laws like this being enacted in the US, but about the press self-censoring for the same reasons these laws are being made in the other countries.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Free expression is an American value that by-and-large has been advanced by the Left. We need to reclaim it now from the right wing, which has never been much good on the issue except when it’s their own asses in the line of fire.

    That anyone could be punished for truthfully reporting on a public event is beyond ridiculous, and profoundly un-American.

  12. harrync
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    For several years there was a post on an official Malaysian government website [islam.gov.my/sites/default/files/apostasy_is_not_human_rights.pdf] that argued that the UN Declaration of Human Rights was an infringement on Muslim rights in that it forbid killing apostates – because killing apostates was a fundamental belief of Islam! Apparently someone finally realized this did not make Islam look good, and the post was deleted.

  13. Noel Carrascal
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I believe the editor is completely partisan. He is trying to advance the liberal narrative and will suppress anything that supports the right narrative. But who sets this left narrative? and more importantly, why? When I try to answer that by speculating I can only come with dark answers. It is possible that liberals on the left see Muslims as naturally anti right, and bring in them into a country is only done to win elections. That seems to work in Europe. In such case, suppressing the true about what Muslims are told to do to non believers and atheist is necessary so that they can continue bringing Muslims without political consequences. Why else would liberals want to bring refugees by the thousands and cause a cultural clash with deep negatives consequences to liberalism in these societies? do they do this to cause chaos and benefit from the chaos? what is the pro-Muslim Liberal end game? are they really liberals? or anarchists passing for liberals? I like to think it is just partisanship, but the patterns suggest a deeper truth.

    • Michiel
      Posted May 15, 2017 at 3:05 am | Permalink

      I don’t really think it’s a conspiracy to win elections, or to drive down labour costst (another idea I’ve heard). I think there’s a large amount of guilt where people feel that “the west” is completely responsible for the fate of all the muslims. So all the refugees are directly caused by “us” which means that we must “take responsibility” and take them in, with no limits (Merkel: “Wir schaffen das!”). Then there is an incredible naivite about islam, where muslim people are seen only as culturully “enriching” and “diversifying” our boring white societies, which don’t really have a culture at all. And if we have we should be ashamed of it because colonialism.
      Then of course there is the history of the second world war which especially gives Europeans an enourmous guilt trip about protecting minorities or “oppressed” people. They see muslims as the new Jews, despite the fact that in much of Europe, the Jews are the new Jews, and to be quite honest about it, at least some of the muslims are the new Nazis.

      • Posted May 15, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        “They see muslims as the new Jews, despite the fact that in much of Europe, the Jews are the new Jews, and to be quite honest about it, at least some of the muslims are the new Nazis.”

        I think this should be said more often.

  14. Posted May 15, 2017 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Interesting. I am reading a biography of Reynald de Chatillon, called God’s Wolf. Not altogether unrelated…
    https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/general-books/history/Gods-Wolf-Jeffrey-Lee-9781782399254

  15. Posted May 15, 2017 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    But did the Muslim student AGREE with those countries killing infidels? Was he ADVOCATING for Sharia law? Initially I agreed with this post, but the Muslim student was also merely reporting on the truth of what majority Muslim countries do. I think that was the context that was missing from the tweets; a Muslim student, present at an interfaith panel, is probably not a proponent of Sharia law. If he is, I stand corrected.

    Ngo obviously should not have been fired, however. That was regressive as fuck. “Regressive Leftists” is a term hugely overused by conservatives as the latest anti-liberal buzzword, but it is definitely appropriate here.

  16. Posted May 15, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.


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