Colorado Springs Abuzz over Punishment for Parody

By April 2, 2008

It seems like a lot of people in Colorado Springs are talking about the case of two students at Colorado College being found guilty of “violence” after they published a parody of a feminist flyer. Their crime: the “juxtaposition of weaponry and sexuality.”

The Gazette of Colorado Springs put the story on its front page, noting that this is just the latest in a series of controversial cases involving student speech and behavior.

KOAA NBC News (Channels 5 and 30 in Colorado Springs and Pueblo) made the case one of its “top stories.” The station notes that the college’s president put out a statement claiming (against all the evidence) that the school “values and fosters freedom of expression.” President Richard Celeste also repeated his claim that the students “were not sanctioned or punished,” but as I stated yesterday, they clearly were both sanctioned and punished.

According to the new Facebook group “Petition: Stand Up for Free Speech at CC,” which has been quickly gaining members,

As members of the Colorado College community:

  • We believe in liberal arts education.
  • We believe in freedom of thought and expression as essential to the spirit of true liberal arts education.
  • We believe that an academic environment is necessarily an arena in which controversial points of view must be freely expressed.
  • We believe that exposure to dissenting viewpoints is critical to intellectual development.
  • We believe that when exposed to diverse viewpoints with which we do not agree, we should use our intellectual abilities to counter them instead of demanding censorship and/or disciplinary action.
  • We believe that it is our responsibility to defend the right of free speech, as it is fundamental to our liberal arts education.

Therefore:

Regardless of our personal reactions to the Monthly Bag, we believe that the manner in which the campus administration handled the incident; first censoring, then condemning the free expression, was entirely inappropriate. Furthermore, we believe that the established precedent threatens the future of our right to free speech, and thus undermines our liberal arts education.

And to top it off, an alum has published this letter to President Celeste, telling him that,

I suggest you decide whether you want your college to truly be unique, or merely another in the long line of institutions that [teaches that] how to be “tolerant” is to silence any point of view that dissents from the institutional norm. If you want uniqueness, then don’t punish the students who actually give you some.

See additional media coverage in Colorado Springs and beyond here.

Schools: Colorado College