ATROCIOUS Colleges for Free Speech

August 20, 2015

By Alex Pfeiffer at The Daily Caller

Colleges in America are ultra-politically-correct breeding grounds for the suppression of speech. It’s an awful and embarrassing state of affairs for a country which purports to offer freedom of expression.

This past academic year, these schools were some of the most awful dumps for freedom.

Dixie State University is getting sued by student members of Young Americans for Liberty with assistance from The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for violating First Amendment rights. In March, the taxpayer-funded university in the southwest corner of Utah refused to approve flyers from Young Americans for Liberty that negatively portrayed Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Che Guevara. The school’s flyer policy states, “Materials may not single out any individual group(s) or entities in a derogatory manner.” The school also suppressed the formation of a sorority in 2013 because it has banned clubs with the Greek alphabet in their names. Students of Phi Beta Kappa certainly shouldn’t apply and hopefully won’t apply to Dixie State.

In January, a federal judge shut down a flatly unconstitutional rule at Waubonsee Community College which prohibited an anti-gay group from distributing stridently anti-gay leaflets around the campus on the far western fringes of Chicago’s western suburbs. “It is unpopular, even offensive, ideas that our most closely held constitutional right seeks to shelter,” federal district Judge Robert W. Gettleman wrote. Confused, taxpayer-funded bureaucrats banned the plaintiff, Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (HOME), from distributing pamphlets entitled “The Uncensored Truth About Homosexuality” and “Gay Activism and Freedom of Speech and Religion.” Attorneys for the community college argued that the school’s anti-bias policies prohibited discrimination against sexual orientation and thus made it totally okay to stifle unpopular speech. Such speech might lead to “unlawful hostility,” they worried.

In March, a University of Oregon campus police officer tried to shut down a pro-life activist because, the cop believed, the aborted fetus on his sign violated the university’s prohibition on “offensive or demeaning” expression.” You can see the video here of the cop denying the protester his freedom of speech. Other students on campus also joined in. One student decided to damage the fetus sign by grabbing the poster and stepping on it. She defended herself by saying the poster was, “not part” of the protester’s “First Amendment rights.”

At Rutgers University, students gleefully appeared in a YouTube video in January arguing that there should be limitations to free speech in the wake of the terrorist attacks on French publication Charlie Hebdo. “I do believe in freedom of speech, but I believe in this case the cartoons were more of an attack on the religion,” one student at New Jersey’s largest taxpayer-funded school explained — thus drawing a distinction between one part of the First Amendment and another part of the very same amendment. Also, in May 2014, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice abruptly withdrew from speaking at a Rutgers undergraduate commencement ceremony amid protests by faculty and students that she is a “war criminal.”

At obscure Ithaca College, the student government passed a bill in March creating a “school-wide online system to report microaggressions.” What are these really offensive terms that need to be reported on? Ithaca chose not to define the term. In a training document used at University of California, Berkley to train professors to avoid using “microaggressions.” Some of these “offensive terms” include “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona settled out of court in July to pay student Nicolas Tomas $35,000 in damages after the school had banned him from handing out animal-rights fliers without a permit. The taxpayer-funded university had demanded that Tomas stand in a “free speech zone” while wearing a badge. The badge had to be signed and blessed by a school bureaucrat. “I was baffled and I was very discouraged and disappointed that a university would discourage free speech,” said Tomas. The school defended itself saying it was all a big misunderstanding. “If he had walked into my office and said, ‘you know, I think there are some misunderstandings, why was I told this,’ I could have changed the policy in five minutes and saved the state of California thirty-five thousand dollars,” flummoxed bureaucrat Rebecca Keeton said. Cal Poly subsequentlyremoved its limitations on free speech.

Over the course of this academic year, George Washington University contemplated banning a sacred Sanskrit svastika — with a ‘v’ — symbol because it resembles a Nazi swastika. The administration at the fancypants $62,485-per-year school in Washington, D.C. also left open the option of expelling a Jewish student who had brought the symbol to campus. John Banzhaf, the famed public interest law professor at the GW Law School, took up the cause of the embattled student. “It’s like banning the 6-pointed Jewish Star of David because some people might mistake it for the pentagram symbol and human sacrifice, or expelling a student for using the word ‘niggardly’ because other students may mistake it for a racist word and get upset,” Banzhaf explained. Under the threat of a lawsuit and national humiliation, GW bureaucrats backed down.

Officials at Marquette University suspended tenured political science professor John McAdams in December because he wrote a blog post criticizing a colleague’s refusal to let a conservative student debate gay marriage during a philosophy lecture. The philosophy professor, Cheryl Abbate, allegedly called the student’s concerns about gay marriage “homophobic.” “Everybody agrees on this,” Abbate said according to the student,
“and there is no need to discuss it.” The Catholic university relieved McAdams of all teaching duties in March.

In July, a Bias-Free Language Guide at the University of New Hampshire came to light. The guide instructed students and faculty members not to use all kinds of words. The word “American” is “problematic,” for example. Other “problematic” terms in the comically politically-correct guide included “illegal alien,” “foreigners,” “mothering,” “fathering” and “homosexual.” Once news of the bizarrely Orwellian spread nationally, the taxpayer-funded school’s president quickly made it disappear.

Officials at Georgetown University hilariously tried pressure an off-campus group to edit an April lecture posted on YouTube because parts of the video show militant feminist students generally being militant. The lecture entitled “What’s Right (and Badly Wrong) with Feminism?” was part of the Luce Lecture series. The featured speaker was American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers. The Georgetown feminist students demanded a safe space to cower from Sommers, who is 5’7″ and about 130 lbs. They called her “an extremist anti-feminist speaker that dismisses and denies survivors of sexual assault and the real harm of rape culture.” They demanded trigger warnings prior to the speech by Sommers. Lauren Gagliardi, Georgetown’s assistant director for the center for student engagement, later informed Georgetown’s College Republicans via email that the school would “step in” if Luce, an independent conservative women’s organization, refused to edit the YouTube video. It remains unclear exactly what special legal power Gagliardi believes she or Georgetown possesses. The video featuring the militant feminists remains available on YouTube.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute postponed an April showing of “American Sniper” after complaints from the Muslim Student Association. The school explained in a Facebook post that “RPI has long upheld the values of respect and coexistence, thus it is only our highest concern that this screening would not create any tensions or hatred among students at RPI.” Other movies that have been hosted by RPI’s student-run movie theater include slashers and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which objectifies women for 180 straight minutes and shows a woman sticking a candle up a guy’s butt at one point. RPI ended up showing “American Sniper” but added an educational forum. There was no such forum attached to “The Wolf of Wall Street” or, apparently, any other movie shown on campus. In May, the University of Colorado Boulder launched a massive student spying campaign encouraging students to report incidents of “bias” to taxpayer-funded officials at the school. The extensive online reporting mechanism solicits nearly two dozen pieces of information about “bias” perpetrators including their names, addresses, ages, phone numbers and student ID numbers. People who report “bias” can also provide a detailed narrative explanation of the “bias incident” they believe they have suffered. The point of the new, potentially massive “Bias Incident Reporting” scheme is to make the University of Colorado campus “an inclusive and welcoming community” by encouraging students to report “demeaning and hurtful statements” to the administration, the CU website explains. A widespread “Bias Motivated Incident” poster campaign on the CU Boulder campus featured posters saying, for example, “Go back to Africa, you don’t belong here.” Except for the school officials behind the “Bias Motivated Incident” poster campaign, there appears to be no evidence that anyone on the CU Boulder campus has ever said or thought these things.