On February 15, 23 academic groups issued a joint statement condemning Glenn Beck for his attacks on Professor Frances Fox Piven. The statement expressed "collective outrage at the recent, repeated attacks" on Piven following Beck's "rhetoric," noting that his verbal attacks on her "have incited threats of violence." From the statement:
We, the leadership of major scholarly associations, express our collective outrage at the recent, repeated attacks on Professor Frances Fox Piven. These attacks have been based on rhetoric, rather than substance, and have incited threats of violence, rather than encouraging open debate. Radio and television personality Glenn Beck has accused Professor Piven of creating a plan to "intentionally collapse our economic system," as reported by The New York Times; and he has included her in a list of the nine "most dangerous people" in the world. While Mr. Beck has not directly called for violence against Professor Piven, his attacks have created a space for threats of violence to emerge. Over the past several months, Professor Piven has received a flood of hate mail and menacing internet postings, including death threats. The Center for Constitutional Rights has identified many violent posts by visitors to Mr. Beck's website, including the following: "I am all for violence and change Frances: Where do your loved ones live?" The rhetoric has become sufficiently overheated that the potential for physical violence is real.
We call on public officials, political commentators, and others in the media to help discourage the rhetoric of hate and violence that has escalated in recent months. We vigorously support serious, honest, and passionate public debate. We support serious engagement on the research of Professor Piven and of others who study controversial issues such as unemployment, the economic crisis, the rights of welfare recipients, and the place of government intervention. We also support the right of political commentators to participate in such debates. At the same time, we insist that all parties recognize the rights of academic researchers not only to gather and analyze evidence related to controversial questions, but also to arrive at their own conclusions and to expect those conclusions to be reported accurately in public debates.
Both scholars and commentators, regardless of political orientation, strive to serve the public good. We can only benefit from their work when all parties respect the rights of others to disagree without fear of violent reprisal. We call on all parties to condemn the recent escalation of violent rhetoric, which does nothing to serve democracy. [American Sociological Association, 2/15/11]