Friday, October 29, 2004

Action taken on pictures 

This morning I received a phone call from Lisa Foss, director of marketing and communications on this campus, with a request from President Saigo on behalf of the student who won as homecoming queen (stories here, here and here). In two of the stories I reproduced photos that had appeared either in the print or web editions of the St. Cloud Times (whom, I am told, will also be asked to take the photos down -- they are still on their website as of right now). I was asked to take these pictures down from the site for the safety of the student. This follows a public letter signed by the Saigo and all the vice presidents that included this statement:
Of greatest concern to all of us, however, is that the student himself has received threatening messages. This is alarming and unconscionable. His well-being and safety are our first concern in this situation.
As it would be mine as well. I had a comment last night on the last post I did on this story suggesting the man's sexuality. I don't consider it alarming or unconscionable, but it is beyond ignorant.

I've taken the pictures off this page (replaced with the text "PICTURE DELETED BY REQUEST 10-29-04"}. I will delete them from the site as soon as I have them backed up on a local server at home. I am doing this voluntarily -- the university realizes my compliance is not mandated, and at no time did I feel it was. I am tenured, and I sincerely doubt this was something for which the university could take action.

But I am also a member of this community, and a father of someone about the same age as this student. I believe it quite possible this student was used by the diversity warriors of this campus to make a statement, without taking to account that something might happen to this student. And it might. While I think our embrace of diversity on this campus has been dangerous, I certainly also understand the possibility of physical attacks against perceived homosexuals (even when the perception may be ridiculous).

Having done so, I predict, however, that this action will not likely cause any change in the student's situation. The student senate chose to make a statement, which our president and his VPs chose to support while he asked for the student's safety. Here's what President Saigo had to say:
At SCSU we value diversity and all voices, including marginalized ones. With regard to Homecoming 2004, we support the process by which the Homecoming Court was selected. The same process has been used for many years. We also support the students who were selected. Our Homecoming Court is beautiful in its diversity and strength of purpose. We stand behind the efforts of student government, faculty, staff, and students as we all work together to develop character, good citizenship, and the ability to consider issues and make decisions.

College campuses have long been social catalysts in the work of opening up and creating a fair society. They play a key role in supporting social justice, equality, and educational opportunity, even when traditions are challenged. This university will and should continue to stand behind change that will allow everyone to feel safe,
comfortable, welcome, and encouraged to achieve their potential.
Compare this to the student government's letter, and you can see they sing from the same hymnal. They believe in taking a stand for things, but not to be criticized for that stand. They expect that people will simply bow before their greater good. As Thomas Sowell called it, cosmic justice.

I do not apologize for the postings, as they were part of the news even in the queer community (who don't seem to have minded using the coronation for their purposes.) It would have been fine, I think, if the information had stayed there, but appearing on Fark and Colin Quinn turned up the heat to where they had put the student up to ridicule and perhaps worse. If the kid has been duped by the rest of the student government, I think that justifies removing the pictures. If he is a willing part of this I will have made a mistake, but I can live with that.

My regret is that this also lets off the hook the rest of the student senate, who have put a student in harm's way so that they could stand on their soapbox and proclaim to be breaking gender stereotypes. These scoundrels continue to pontificate that they are somehow brave without paying any price greater than the words I or someone else types. They get up in the face of alumni to show how enlightened they are (and how benighted the alums are), and then when criticism arises they hide behind the queen's evening gown. And President Saigo, who could have written a request for people to assure the student's safety without those two gratuitous paragraphs, once again has shown he cares more about being seen a champion of diversity education than of free speech.