Every year, we are treated in the spring to a spate of commencement speakers at college campuses having their invitations to speak revoked or having them succumb to pressure from liberal groups on campus whose little feelings may be hurt by what the speaker has to say, or has said in the past. This year was no different and come May 2015 we will be treated to these stories again. But, commencement speakers are only one aspect of how the Left is trying to restrict free speech on college campuses across this country. If anywhere, college campuses should be broad zones of free speech. Even here, under the guise of public security, speech is restricted to “free speech zones” which generally translates into a small area of campus space with restricted times to disseminate literature or speak. Other colleges have gotten around this dilemma by forcing student groups to post security bonds or pay for additional police. The following is a list of my top ten worst offenders of 2014:
#10. The University of New Mexico- They make the list for rank hypocrisy after establishing a sexual harassment policy that, among other things, prohibits the display of “sexually explicit or derogatory objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters.” Yet from September 29 to October 4th is UNM Sex Week featuring seminars with titles like “O-Face Oral” and “BJs and Beyond.” Ironically, Sex Week is partially sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center.
#9. Yale University- Yale makes the list not so much for what they did but what they contemplated. In response to Arab student organizations egged on by CAIR, the University considered dropping an invitation for Ayyan Hirsi Ali to speak at an undergraduate forum. The petition was signed by over 30 national Muslim organizations and many Yale students. Not because of any action by Yale itself but because of the backbone of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Foundation, the address went on as planned. The fact that the Yale administration even considered CAIR’s request- a mere week after its President addressed the freshman class on the importance of campus free speech and expression- places them on this list.
#8. Montclair State University (New Jersey)- I may not agree with their message, but usually a flier I disagree with ends up in the nearest trash can. Not so at Montclair State in New Jersey. A flier distributed by a group called Montclair Students for Justice in Palestine caused that group to be fined 5% of their annual budget and they were ordered to cease any political activity after some students complained about the content of that flier. Granted, the flier is pro-Palestinian propaganda, but it is hardly offensive and a threat to the public order, nor is it any different from thoughts often expressed on television talk shows. One can imagine the drafters of the Bill of Rights looking down right now and just shaking their heads in disgust.
#7. University of Oregon- This is one of my favorites. A female college student was reprimanded for leaning out a window and shouting at a passing couple, “I hit that first!” Apparently offended by the remark, the female in the couple complained and the offender offered an apology. Not good enough. The offender was charged with violations of the college’s noise and guest policies as well as “harassment,” “disruption”, and “disorderly conduct” as a result of the University’s speech and conduct code. “I hit that first-” the new F word on campus.
#6. Brandeis University- Unlike Yale University, this bastion of the Left in Boston, Massachusetts actually did rescind an invitation to Ayyan Hirsi Ali to speak at their commencement ceremony after pressure from Muslim and other Leftist groups on campus and nationally. Free speech at its best on a liberal college’s campus….
#5. Penn State University- I am including this one because their recently adopted speech code policy is indicative of those nationwide. It states “Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is unwanted, inappropriate, or unconsented to.” One clearly sees that this definition is very broad. A single off-color joke overheard at a party can result in sexual harassment charges. Sadly, this is happening throughout America at colleges large and small, public and private.
#4. Boise State University- Boise State is no stranger to free speech violations. But what lands them at #4 is the imposition of what amounts to a $465 fine for inviting Dick Heller, a gun’s rights activist, to a symposium on gun control sponsored by the conservative campus organization, Young Americans for Liberty. They were asked to pay that “fine” for security reasons- additional police and security because Dick Heller is sooooo controversial. Further, they ordered the organization to cancel the event if the “fee”/fine was not paid. Incidentally, there is a pending lawsuit against Boise State by a pro-life student group for restricting their free speech rights also.
#3. Arkansas State University- The college’s football team lost a player to death and their equipment manager was killed in a car accident. The team decided to honor their passing by placing a cross on the back of their helmets if the player wanted to do so. An outside atheist group protested and the college succumbed to the pressure. They asked that the players change the cross to a plus by cutting off its length, or to a single bar. The players relented and what started out as a cross on helmets in memorial of former teammates is now a single bar. Sad….
#2. Smith College- This entry actually evolved out of another incident involving the big, bad “N word.” As part of a panel discussion, the word was used to elicit a particular response from the crowd followed by a discussion of those reactions. It was clearly a thought exercise that made local news. But what ensued was absurd. In response to the controversy, a transcript of the discussion was released with another word blacked out and it took semantic sleuths to discover that word was “crazy.” Apparently to the speech police, the word “crazy” is an “ableist” slur. According to one “anti-ableist” organization, these are words that are derogatory to anyone because of a disability. Other examples are: insane, lame, dumb, retarded, blind, deaf, idiot, imbecile, the noun “invalid,” maniac, nuts, psycho, and spaz. So the next time Cosmopolitan runs an article on “Hot, crazy sex,” they should think twice. A bad joke can never be labeled “lame” ever again. There can be no “insane” moments on awards shows and no one can ever be accused of making a “dumb statement.” Which leads one to conclude that Smith College is clearly run and attended by some crazy, dumb, idiotic, lame people.
#1. Wellesley College- Artist Tony Macelli recently constructed a sculpture on campus called “The Sleepwalker” which depicts a balding, slightly pudgy man sleepwalking in his briefs. It is controversial since over 700 students signed a petition claiming it was a “source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for some members of our campus community.” Sexual imagery is rather prevalent on campuses nationwide as the aforementioned Sex Week festivities indicate. Not far from Wellesley, one college professor invited his students in a human sexuality course to stay after class to witness a couple using a sexual device on one another fashioned from an electric saw. If nothing else, this incident illustrates how far the Left has come regarding free speech on campus- a clear regression to the Victorian Era where the sculpted depiction of a man in underwear is now a triggering device worthy of dismantling. Somehow I believe these same traumatized students think that the defacement of a picture of the Virgin Mary or a crucifix in a jar of urine is real art worthy of constitutional protection.
To paraphrase an old Willie Nelson song: “Don’t let your babies grow up to be liberals.” It is just another moniker for a babyish hypocrite of the lowest order. And these are the future leaders of the country? It makes you think twice about sending your kids to college.