January 20, 2011, New York — Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued a written appeal to Fox News president Roger Ailes to help put a stop to the increasing threats against progressive Professor Frances Fox Piven, largely incited by Fox News host Glenn Beck. In the letter, co-written by Legal Director Bill Quigley and Executive Director Vince Warren, the CCR asks that Ailes distinguish between First Amendment rights, of which they are “vigorous defenders” and an “intentional repetition of provocative, incendiary, emotional misinformation and falsehoods [that place that person] in actual physical danger of a violent response.”
Beginning in September of 2010, Glenn Beck started branding Piven, a distinguished professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, as an “enemy of the Constitution.” Piven, well known for advocating for the organizational rights of the poor and encouraging voter registration, has since received threatening phone calls and letters, and has become the subject of many death threats left open to the public on Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze.
The CCR letter cites many of the incendiary quotes from Beck in reference to Piven. Beck compares Piven to the Hutaree militia, infamous for violent threats against government and law enforcement workers, and equates her calls for social movements to “terrorism.” On December 31, a headline on The Blaze read, “Frances Fox Piven Rings in the New Year by Advocating Violent Revolution,” further stating that “violence has always been Piven’s preferred method of collapse.”
The Center for Constitutional rights details a backlash through some of the many violent quotes on Beck’s website. Examples include, “Maybe they should burst through the front door of this arrogant elitist and slit the hateful cow’s throat,” “We should blow up Piven’s office and home,” and “I am all for violence and change Frances: Where do your loved ones live?”
The letter states that the “threats must be taken seriously by Fox News,” and that “Professor Piven’s life could well be at stake.” It further asks that Mr. Ailes “order an immediate investigation into this, and insist on a speedy and fair resolution which will stop the Fox and Beck generated threats on Professor Piven.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.