Imagine this situation.
A group composed mostly of white males refuses to pay a Venezuelan man $1,000 for a lecture because they do not like what he plans to say.
Next, two powerful figures in a large corporation publicly defame three customers of the corporation, one of them a woman. Their superiors fail to discipline them, and the corporation’s Public Relations department defends them.
The above is not one more instance of oppression in our racist, sexist culture—which is what most anti-American college professors would immediately assume. Instead, it is another example of the inconceivable intolerance at today’s American universities for politically incorrect beliefs. I experienced this phenomenon myself at my chosen place of "higher learning," Bucknell University.
The sad fact of the matter is that certain powerful Bucknell elites, both in the administration and the student body, simply cannot handle free speech. They say they cherish free speech, but they only protect the speech with which they agree, and the speech that does not criticize them—anything else incurs the full wrath of administrative retaliation. Such a state of affairs is "free speech" only to a hypocrite.
All this was proven to me beginning on October 2 of last year. On that date, the Bucknell administration de-funded the university’s Conservatives Club’s "free speech lecturer," Thor Halvorssen of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. In doing so, the administration overruled the Student Government, which had appropriated the money. The alleged reason for this is that Halvorssen’s organization had supposedly threatened to sue the University. That, of course, never happened. (Mr. Halvorssen is the above-mentioned Venezuelan.)
The real fun began the next day, when the "free speech issue" of The Counterweight, the Conservatives Club’s magazine was released, exposing for the first time the university’s unconstitutional speech code. The issue also criticized two administrative abuses of students’ rights in the past year. The articles argued that the students in question had done some stuff that was definitely stupid, but not racist—and that the administration had overstepped its bounds in its reactions. The first incident involved two white students who sparked a huge controversy when they dressed up as (black, female) tennis players Venus and Serena Williams for Halloween; the other involved a student who, when a friend threw a cordless phone to him after a failed prank call, intoned "What’s up, my Negro?"—not knowing the student on the other end was half black. This second student was punished despite having had no involvement in the placing or planning of the prank call, or any knowledge of who was on the other end of the phone.
Out here in the real world, it seems idiotic to label the above incidents "racist"—and it is. But on the campus of a modern American university, things are different. Even so, the Bucknell administration’s response to these conservative criticisms was absolutely breathtaking.
On October 4, three administrators called a special "forum" for "multicultural" groups to discuss the effects of The Counterweight on the "campus climate." That by itself is hypocritical—imagine these "sensitive" types calling a meeting of concerned men to discuss the ill effects of The Vagina Monologues, a vulgar and anti-male play that is performed on campus—but that was only the beginning.
Three Counterweight staffers, myself included, attended this "forum" to see why our fellow students were so upset with us. We were threatened repeatedly, mostly by students, but also by the Director of Greek Affairs, Shauna Irwin, who declared that we were "lucky" that those in attendance were "such good kids," or else we could have gotten hurt—implying that we deserved to be harmed.
Next, the Dean of Students, Richard Ferraro, got in on the act, alleging that he was "sure" that I specifically intended for The Counterweight to hurt people. We never got a chance to refute this lunacy, because shortly after making those defamatory charges in front of 40 people Ferraro ordered us to leave, adding that if we did not do so immediately, he would call the campus police. In an e-mail later sent to the entire campus, Ferraro further charged that many of us are not "good people" and don’t care about "multicultural students," and he went on to compare one writer to pornographer Larry Flynt.
Dean Ferraro has refused to apologize for his outrageous behavior. Instead, he has proclaimed the disgusting falsehood that the president of the club, Denise Chaykun, had "a huge grin on her face" while the offended students were crying at the "forum."
And in a press release, the University has claimed that "Bucknell’s commitment to free speech is unswerving" and that some students were "understandably" upset by The Counterweight.
The reality, however, is that while most people at Bucknell do have a commitment to free speech, the leftist administrators and professors who hold all the power, and the misled students to whom they feed their lies, most certainly do not. Thus even in a country that is supposed to be the hallmark of freedom, "progressive" universities deny the liberty for which so many veterans have fought and died to their students. The above is just one example of many, at one university out of thousands: one small part of a still-unfolding national disgrace.
Charles Mitchell is a sophomore at Bucknell University, where he serves as editor-in-chief of The Counterweight, the only conservative publication on campus. He can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.