Today’s ‘Campus Alert’: Banning Dave Barry

June 11, 2007

Our Campus Alert column in today’s New York Post focuses on the FIRE case we have crowned our most ridiculous case of the past academic year—Marquette University’s banning of a Dave Barry quote.
Last October, Ph.D. student Stuart Ditsler posted a Barry quote on his office door that 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.” Within days, Philosophy Department Chair James South deemed the quote “patently offensive” and ordered its removal, all the while maintaining in an e-mail to Ditsler that “while I am a strong supporter of academic freedom, I’m afraid that hallways and office doors are not ‘free-speech zones.’”
As we wrote in Campus Alert:

Never mind the fact that other members of the department had all kinds of materials posted on their doors. Never mind the fact that if Dave Barry’s writing was really “patently offensive”—a legal term usually reserved for hardcore pornography—he probably wouldn’t be a best-selling, beloved, nationally syndicated, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.
Despite negative attention from the Associated Press, the American Federation of Teachers and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Marquette has refused to apologize or clarify its stance, insisting all year that South’s actions don’t really constitute censorship. That’s a joke in itself.

Schools:  Marquette University