Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Wythe Holt, like so many others in academia, fails to understand that free expression is process, not a result. Public discourse cannot be rigged to guarantee certain results for certain groups contingent upon their present popularity with the powers that be.
Our constitution demands that the government remain uninvolved in the marketplace of ideas whenever possible. Whenever government involvement in matters of free expression is necessary, it must take the form of facilitation that is viewpoint neutral. It cannot take the form of manipulation that is ideologically motivated.
When Professor Adams completes his work there he might wish to investigate the continuing suppression of discussion and criticism of the Homecoming Queen incident here. At Faculty Senate last week the university's provost reported back the actions of the "Responses of the Leadership of the University to the Homecoming Court Backlash". Included in it:
- "Students sending homophobic email messages to GLBT Services have been contacted and will be processed through the Student Conduct System." What constitutes a "homophobic email message"? There is no discussion.
- "The article, editorial and political cartoon published in the University Chronicle have been referred to the Student Conduct System for review and action if judged to be in violation of the Code of Conduct." This is the very same administration that claimed in the libel case against former Dean Richard Lewis that it did not control what happened in the Chronicle. Does it now? This is the first article -- on what would they act? How can they threaten to do so? Do they really want to suppress editorials like this?
- "Steps were taken to remove direct reference to Fue and to assertion about his sexual orientation from the College Republicans' kiosk in Atwood Memorail Center and to refer the issue to Campus Student Organizations and Leadership Development for disciplinary consideration. In addition, Public Safety and Atwood staff have been present to monitor safety concerns and compliance with policy for the kiosk situations that have focused on the Homecoming Court issues." If the CRs referred to the student by name and asserted his sexuality, that would be indeed something they should stop. However I went to their booth on a Tuesday around lunch time, when a "Support the Court" booth was right next door, and there was neither any reference to the student nor to homosexuality. (And why not, if he's become a cause celebre in the New York Times?) But that is an action for the student to take for defamation if he chooses. And a police presence around the CRs booth to check up on them? Could have used those for earlier CR events, folks.
They will not rest until they finish killing the free speech that is protected by their own tenure.
The administration has been simply craven in its reaction to Support the Court. Unlike the Homecoming Queen, the administration has no balls.