The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered FIRE’s recent case at Marquette University where an administrator removed an innocuous quote by comedian Dave Barry from the office door of graduate student Stuart Ditsler, claiming the quote was “patently offensive.” The quote read: “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.”
In a bizarre twist, the article claims that Marquette President Robert Wild sent a letter to FIRE dated October 16, claiming that the offending quote was removed from the door because it had no attribution thus “someone reading the quotation may not have understood the humor/satire of Dave Barry.” First, this is a dubious claim since the content of the quote is in question, not who said it. Second, in FIRE’s letter to Marquette, FIRE asked for a response by October 11 and, while Marquette claimed its letter was dated October 16, as of today, FIRE has received no letter from Marquette. It’s possible the letter was sent and FIRE has not yet received it; it’s more likely that the letter was backdated by Marquette when the school came under pressure from press and alumni following FIRE’s October 18 press release. It wouldn’t be the first time FIRE has seen such tactics.