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Twelve Cases of Campus Censorship By: Dan Flynn
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, March 14, 2001


WHAT HAPPENED to David Horowitz at Berkeley was an aberration. No, the censoring of his ideas was not out of the ordinary. As evidenced by last semester's student-mob action to prevent Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking in the city of Berkeley and the shouting down of a talk given by this writer and the subsequent book-burning of a booklet that I had authored, censorship is quite common at Berkeley.

What is truly an aberration is that Horowitz's ad appeared at all in The Daily Californian. As student editor Daniel Hernandez quite candidly admits, the ad snuck into the issue's publication only because of a major oversight on the part of the student editors. Had they been performing their duties, the editors would have certainly screened out Horowitz's apostate views.

If censorship of conservative ideas is a frequent occurrence at Berkeley, how commonplace is it at other universities around the country?

Defenders of higher education claim that it is not common at all. Penn State recently dolled out nearly $10,000 in student fees to a celebration called "C--tfest." Peter Singer, a professor who believes that eating a hamburger is tantamount to murder but killing a newborn infant is acceptable, is housed at Princeton's Orwellian Center for Human Values. A tenured UC-Santa Cruz professor compares opponents of pedophilia to racists. According to the denizens of the campuses, the fact that these extremists have found a comfortable home in higher education makes academia a tolerant place. Not quite!

Everyone is tolerant of ideas and opinions that mirror their own. The true test of tolerance is whether one can respect the rights of others to air opinions and ideas that conflict with one's views. On this test, the campuses fail miserably. What offends faculty and administrators is not advocacy of pedophilia or infanticide, but, as the following examples suggest, ideas that stray from the left-wing dogma that engulfs higher education.

Burn, Baby, Burn…Newspaper Inferno! A mob of activists stole hundreds of copies of The Cornell Review and held a burning at the Ithaca, NY-campus in 1997. The attempt at censorship did not provoke condemnations from administrators. Instead, the school's dean of students attended the fascist-style rally in support of the newspaper burners and smiled as the papers went up in flames. "The students who oppose The Cornell Review have claimed their First Amendment right to be able to have symbolic burnings of The Cornell Review," declared Cornell spokeswoman Linda Grace-Kobas. A First Amendment right to theft and newspaper burnings?

No Place at the Table In November of 1998, Columbia University President George Rupp dispatched a team of security guards to keep students interested in a conservative conference from meeting on campus. Participants in Accuracy in Academia's "A Place at the Table: Conservative Ideas in Higher Education" learned that only liberals have a place at Columbia's table when their meeting was kicked off-campus and forced to reconvene in a park. This, despite the fact that a contract had been signed, the meeting space had been paid for, and the event had been planned three months in advance. A mob of activists protested the event, which featured Ward Connerly, and shouted down author Dinesh D'Souza as he attempted to speak in an alcove overlooking Morningside Park. Chanting "Ha! Ha! You're Outside, We Don't Want Your Racist Lies," demonstrators held up signs bragging of their accomplishment, which read ACCESS DENIED and WE WIN: RACISTS NOT ALLOWED AT COLUMBIA. "This is an alcove where homeless people sleep and piss," student Franklin Amoo stated. "I'll do whatever needs to be done [to stop the conference] in order to make sure they know their sentiments are not shared." Salmon Rushdie, Khalid Muhammed, and Angela Davis have all spoken on the New York campus without "security" concerns trumping free speech rights. Yet the only instance of a conservative event on the campus in recent memory elicits a ban handed down by the school's president, who happens to be an outspoken advocate of racial preferences.

Censorship, Texas Style Henry Kissinger was scheduled to speak at the University of Texas on February 1, 2000. About 48 hours before Kissinger was to lecture, UT pulled the plug on the event. The move came in reaction to a planned disruption of the lecture by a group of students and professors who call themselves the Radical Action Network. UT Journalism Professor Bob Jensen, a leader of the group, held a "teach-in" about Kissinger to about 200 students prior to the planned address and branded the longtime diplomat and scholar a "war criminal." Jensen and a number of university groups had formed a "not welcome" committee for Kissinger. The group affirmed that it planned to shout down Kissinger. The school says it feared violence. The previous semester, students at the Austin campus shouted down Ward Connerly, leader of a nationwide campaign to replace racial preferences with a merit-based system. Carrying such signs as "Protect Free Speech—Shut Connerly Up!" the activists argued that by silencing Connerly they were actually enhancing the debate. The school's refusal to discipline those that attempted to censor Connerly gave activists the green light to stop the Kissinger event.

Intolerant Tolerance On October 8, 1998, an entire press run of the Georgetown Academy was destroyed after it dared to criticize a university program that would compel professors, administrators, and resident assistants to place inverted pink triangles on their doors at the nation's oldest Catholic university. University President Leo O'Donovan, S.J., stayed silent over the matter for two weeks, finally issuing a statement that was interpreted by many to be a condemnation of the newspaper! O'Donovan defended free speech only "in accordance with our Speech and Expression Policy," which states that "expression that is grossly offensive on matters such as…sexual preference is inappropriate in a university community." Several editors of the campus daily cheered on the thefts of the rival paper.

Dartmouth Grinches Steal Christmas Administrators at Dartmouth banned a campus group from giving Christmas presents to other students through the campus mail after the gifts had been bought, wrapped, and ready to mail. In December of 1998, Scott Brown, the school's dean of religion, remarked that giving Christmas presents is an act "that a large number of students will take offense at." Bad publicity forced Dartmouth to finally permit the students to send the Christmas gifts—in January!

Free Speech for Me At Syracuse, activists defended the burning of Bibles to protest a speech by Pat Buchanan, while attempting to deny the conservative leader his right to speak. The 1998 event was disrupted with shouting, a "kiss-in," and threats to burn down the chapel where the event was held.

Brandeis v. Brandeis During the 1998-1999 school year at Brandeis, two student senators were caught in separate incidents destroying large quantities of Freedom Magazine, the conservative publication on campus. Instead of condemning the student senators for destroying property and limiting what other students can read, the school decided to bring the editor of Freedom Magazine up on charges for writing about what had happened. The student government, including the two senators who admitted to destroying copies of the publication, had earlier taken away the paper's funding. To say that the great exponent of free speech Justice Brandeis is rolling in his grave is an understatement.

A First Amendment Right to Steal? Ohio State University's Bob Hewitt, a cartoonist for the student daily, learned the hard way which political groups are immune from lampooning on campus. On February 16, 1999, a cartoon penned by Hewitt that poked fun at feminism and women's studies appeared in the Daily Lantern. A mob of feminists maintained that the cartoon "insults both feminists and witches." The day after the cartoon appeared, 15,000 copies of the newspaper were confiscated from campus distribution racks. Hewitt's next cartoon was pulled from the paper. A group of angry feminists showed up at Hewitt's home and attempted to burn their bras. Finally, Hewitt was fired by the newspaper. Regarding the newspaper thefts, one feminist maintained, "it's within my First Amendment rights to steal."

Criminalizing Dissent Temple University Senior Michael Marcavage sued his school in the fall of 2000 for violating his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment Rights. After hearing that there would be a school-sponsored performance of Corpus Christi (a play that depicts Jesus as a promiscuous homosexual), Marcavage organized a counter-event during his junior year that was to feature gospel singers, speakers, and a play that depicted Jesus in a more positive light. Although Marcavage didn't seek to censor the play that he found offensive, the school did censor his event. After informing him that he would not be allowed to hold his event, Marcavage alleges that he was assaulted by university administrators who had him involuntarily committed to Temple University Hospital's psychiatric ward. Hospital records show that an administrator signed the paperwork to commit Marcavage but doctors found nothing wrong with the junior and released him.

Censoring Catholic Ideas at Catholic Villanova An administrator at Villanova confiscated an entire press run of a student publication on March 15, 2000 because of its pro-life content. "We obviously have some serious concerns about the content of The Conservative Column," director of student development Tom Mogan declared to the editor's voice mail. "Therefore, I will be removing all the issues of The Conservative Column that I see."

Teaching Tolerance Through Intolerance A St. Cloud State University student journalist who merely argued, perhaps illogically, that banning credit card companies from campus is illegal in the same way that banning blacks is illegal was forced to undergo "multicultural sensitivity training conducted by Multicultural Student Services" by school President Suzanne Williams. That last year's public condemnation of the student and the punishment meted out would "teach others the lesson of tolerance" was the Orwellian claim of the Minnesota school's intolerant leader.

Putting Light & Truth in the Dark Yale counselors for the school's freshmen orientation confiscated and trashed more than 700 copies of the student magazine Light & Truth on August 27, 1999. The "offensive" issue warned incoming freshmen about indoctrination within the orientation program. Most notably, Light & Truth poked fun at the orientation's "condom race" in which new students race to place condoms on a wooden phallus. "I was incensed by their condemnation of programs important to campus safety," counselor Tom Cantey said in justifying the thefts.

"Liberating tolerance," New Left guru Herbert Marcuse famously wrote in 1965, is "intolerance against movements from the Right, and toleration of movements from the Left." If his words are not the marching orders of many on campus today, numerous students, professors, and administrators certainly act as if they are.



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