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The Pulse: First amendment showdown

Sometimes free speech can get messy. Like this week, when Sheriff Joe Arpaio agreed to be grilled by a panel of professors in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications’ “First Amendment Forum.”

While the three skeptical profs quizzed Arpaio on public records and his feud with the Phoenix New Times, Arpaio pitched himself as being more open to the press than most other public officials in the state. He said despite the media’s attempts to “try to tear me down for 18 years,” he has an “open-door policy.”

“I kind of like the media,” he said as hundreds protested his appearance outside the building.

But about 40 minutes into the event, a group of students began chanting the lyrics of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” For an awkward several minutes the panel sat quietly. Finally, Arpaio got up and left.
Journalism Dean Chris Callahan said all that the students accomplished was to prevent three top-notch journalists from grilling a public official. “I think that’s dumb,” he said.

So why didn’t Callahan stop them? Well, imagine police officers escorting students out of the “First Amendment Forum” in handcuffs for, well, exercising the First Amendment.

Barely known, Republican Eric Wnuck is trying to get his name out in the Congressional District 5 GOP primary. But his latest attempt has struck a few observers as pretty corny.
Wnuck has launched a new video on his Web site – ericwnuck.com – in which he tells viewers: “I am Eric Wnuck.” OK. But, apparently, so are a lot of other people. Taking the old “I am Spartacus” approach, a whole bunch of “normal” people tell the camera that they, too, are Eric Wnuck. Among those carrying his namesake are seven men, four women and three children, including a little boy with a baseball glove.

The not-so-subtle message is that Eric Wnuck is your voice in Congress. In addition to being a takeoff of the famous ‘60s movie, the ad also looks a lot like a popular Tiger Woods’ Nike commercial from the ‘90s.

But rather than letting Wnuck fall on his sword in his quest to take on Democratic congressman Harry Mitchell next year, former Mitchell aide Seth Scott was quick to post a note on Facebook accusing the GOP candidate of plagiarism.

“It’s a brilliant idea for an ad,” Scott wrote. “But I liked it much better when I saw it three years ago, when it was aired by Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill.”

Scott’s post said that the ad was designed by the same consultants who designed Mitchell’s ads, adding to the Mitchell camp’s frustration.

“This bright bulb lifted material directly from Mitchell’s own advisers,” Scott said.

Fine. But if that’s the case, then did Mitchell’s advisers plagiarize from “Spartacus” or Tiger?

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