Skip to comments.Vigilante Censorship Alive and Well in Kentucky
Posted on 04/16/2006 4:05:33 PM PDT by Lorianne
After nearly five years of dealing with all the terrible and often absurd abuses of free speech in higher education, I am a hard person to shock, but hats off to professor Sally Jacobsen of Northern Kentucky University (NKU) for showing me the most perverted inversion of the concept of free speech I have seen in a long time.
Jacobsen, a professor at NKU, invited students in one of her classes to to express their freedom-of-speech rights to destroy [an anti-abortion] display if they wished to. The anti-abortion display had been erected by an NKU student group with permission from university officials. You can see a picture of her apparently actually helping destroy the display (which was a field of approximately 400 tiny crosses) in The Northerner On Line.
George Orwells name is bandied about a lot these days, but cases like this demonstrate why: a university professor is trying to claim destruction of others property and expression equals free speech? Thats madness.
When asked about the incident, Jacobsen said "Any violence perpetrated against that silly display was minor compared to how I felt when I saw it. Some of my students felt the same way, just outraged."
Wow. So Jacobsen is so compassionate and tolerant that she feels she has the right to destroy expression that disagrees with her world view? I am so tired of college administrators, faculty, and students excusing their attempts to silence opinions they dislike or disagree with by treating their censorship as a necessary part of a decent university society. This turns the ideal of individual freedom on its head and transmogrifies it into a mandate for enforced conformity.
This case, so far, is all too similar to another truly shocking case: that of student playwright Chris Lee at Washington State University. In that case, administrators at Washington State actually organized and paid for hecklers to attend Lees satirical play Passion of the Musical. The hecklers repeatedly disrupted the musical through shouts and threats of violence. Astoundingly, Washington States president later defended the hecklers behavior as a responsible exercise of free speech. After months of public criticism from FIRE and the media the WSU president seems to have backed off of his outrageous claim. Thankfully, NKU president James Votruba does not appear to need a lesson from FIRE about what is free speech and what is condoning violent repression of speech:
"Freedom-of-speech rights end where you infringe on someone else's freedom of speech," Votruba said. "I don't buy the claim that this is an act of freedom of speech, to destroy property."
Votruba also told the Cincinnati Post that Professor Jacobsen and those involved could face disciplinary action and even criminal prosecution. "In my mind, this is a serious violation of a faculty member's responsibilities and undermines what a university is established to do," Votruba said. "If people are occasionally offended by points of view on a campus, that's what a university is all about."
I commend Votruba for his clear thinking on thiswhich is something I have learned to never take for granted with college presidents. No matter how strongly you disagree with the other side of the debatewhether the debate be over abortion, the war, or (it is strange to write this but
) cartoonsyou do not have the right to shut up them up. It looks like NKU will be doing the right thing in this case, thanks to a president who has thus far shown himself to understand free speech. Therefore, it does not look like FIRE will have to be involved, but we remain ever vigilant against crude attempts to shut down campus dialogue for all but one side of an argument.
Liberals are ideological nutcases.
That's her in the first picture. Apparently, the group who put up the display is pressing charges...best of luck to them.
Aaahhh. Liberal thinking at it's finest. They only tolerate free-speech issues when it's liberal free speech. The most intolerant people in this country-Liberals!
From the looks of the Prof and some of her flunkies, they needed the display area for graze.
Free speech is fine as long as it is theirs. When anyone disagrees with their twisted and circular logic views, they are infringing on their First Amendment rights. It's hypocrisy in its purest form.
The wrong people are being aborted!I am sure her'life' partner is proud!
Akademia Uber Alles!
"Any violence perpetrated against that silly display was minor compared to how I felt when I saw it." lady, you are responsible for your own feelings. Don't blame them on others. And they are not more important than rights. Rights are guaranteed by the constitution. It does not mention feelings.
"From the looks of the Prof and some of her flunkies, they needed the display area for graze"
Nah- she needs prime grazing - more like the candy aisle at Costco.
I'm sure she is going to love the effect her actions have on the pro-life cause.
I'm a pro-choice conservative and I believe that nutcase professor is completely out of her mind.
~ Blue Jays ~
Reminds me of my old college professor arguing that the only way to protect freedom of speech was to limit it for some people.
Good story. I hope some of the media will pick it up, a la Ward Churchill. I'll bet she would lead a protest if somebody destroyed a print of 'Piss Christ.'
They had to burn "the village" to save it.
Pretty much the same thinking.
I thought it was more scary that their are people out there who actually do think the way to save liberties is to limit them.
Not that I personally would do such a thing, of course...