Freedom of speech group takes aim at Lake Superior State

April 11, 2008

A U.S. freedom of speech organization is crying foul, charging Lake Superior State University unfairly ordered a sociology professor to take down cartoons on Islamic terrorism and other politically-charged materials from his office door.

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says an anonymous complaint led the Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. school to demand in March, 2007 that Prof. Richard Crandall take down a number of materials adorning his office door.

FIRE says the materials in question include cartoons and other materials pertaining to Islamic terrorism, gun control, abortion, presidential politics and the war in Iraq. One poster from Crandall’s door advertises a “Notice of the weekly meeting of the white, male, heterosexual faculty and staff association.”

FIRE also charges that other faculty are allowed to post similar materials reflecting various ideological perspectives.

“LSSU is displaying serious disrespect for faculty rights by demanding that Professor Crandall remove materials about public concerns from his office door,” said FIRE president Greg Lukianoff. “The political double standard in this case is striking.”

LSSU declined to discuss specifics of Crandall’s situation when contacted by the Sault Star, but released an e-mail statement saying that FIRE has “mischaracterized the situation and presented an incomplete and misleading account to the public.”

The university considers Crandall’s case a “confidential personnel matter,” and “objects strenuously to any suggestion by FIRE or anyone else that the university acted inappropriately concerning the first amendment rights of any of its faculty.”

FIRE has posted the materials in question on its website:

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Schools: Lake Superior State University Cases: Lake Superior State University: Veteran Professor Ordered to Remove Posted Materials from Office Door