You’ve got to do a “Bride of Indoctrinate U“. The University of Saint Thomas’ shenanigans could make a dandy centerpiece to your next installment on PC run amok on campus.
Katherine Kersten covered a lot of the same territory in her column today that Ed and I went over with Katie Kieffer on the NARN show on Saturday (check out the audio here):
For almost two months, St. Thomas’ Students for Human Life organization looked forward to sponsoring Parker’s planned appearance on campus April 21. Her fee was to be split by the St. Thomas Standard, a conservative student newspaper, and the Young America’s Foundation, a Herndon, Va., group that brings conservative speakers and ideas to college campuses.
YAF is, of course, overtly conservative.
Students for Human Life applied to the university’s Student Life Committee for a campus site where Parker could speak. But the committee turned thumbs down. Star Parker, it seems, was not welcome at St. Thomas.
Katie Kieffer, an alumna who helped plan Parker’s visit, says that Vice President for Student Affairs Jane Canney, who oversees the committee, blocked the way. “She told me, ‘As long as I’m a vice president at St. Thomas, we will not deal with Young America’s Foundation,’” said Kieffer.
Let’s back up a bit. A couple of years ago, Young America’s Foundation (YAF) brought Ann Coulter to speak at Saint Thomas. It was controversial; there was a lot of foul, inappropriate language.
On the part of lefty hecklers. Coulter may shoot off her mouth (frequently to conservatives’ chagrin, including my own) at times, but she was on excellent behavior at St. Thomas – and pretty well stuck the landing by all accounts. The only embarassment to Saint Thomas came – by all accounts – from the lefties.
But fine – Coulter’s too hot for the University of Saint Thomas to handle. Fair enough.
Ann Coulter is a well-known firebrand. But Star Parker? What’s the university afraid of if she speaks?
On Friday morning, Hennes did not elaborate on the statement that St. Thomas would refuse to permit any YAF-affiliated speaker to set foot on campus. “We’re not comfortable. It’s that simple,” he said.
Got that? At the U of St. Thomas, speech can be free – as long as the administration is comfortable.
Mr. Hennes? Jane Canney? Father Dennis “Hanoi Denny” Dease? Free speech is supposed to be uncomfortable!
Now – this next bit was the part that made my jaw drop when interviewing Ms.Kieffer last weekend. Hennes (with emphasis added):
“We’re always willing to look at the possibility of collaborating with outside organizations, including YAF,” he said. “If they approach us with another speaker in the future, we’d consider it, but the speaker must be willing to conform with all the things in our contract, including the behavior or ‘subject matter’ clause,” which bars obscenities, racial slurs and other derogatory language.
Pro-life activism on the part of a Afro-American woman “violates the behavior/’subject matter’ clause?”
If it seems like you’ve let slip the surly bonds of reason – well, welcome to Saint Thomas. More in a bit.
Ms. Parker responds:
Parker — president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education and a regular commentator on CNN, Fox News and the BBC — was incredulous at St. Thomas’ initial decision to ban YAF.
“I’ve spoken on over 150 campuses,” she said. “I’ve never been treated like this. Is St. Thomas saying that all conservative speakers are alike? Are they saying that because one conservative speaker said things they don’t like, they won’t deal with any speaker sponsored by YAF?”
“We’ve got to move away from that kind of prejudice and stereotyping,” she said.
Of course, prejudice and stereotyping are part and parcel of life at Saint Thomas.
You might recall last fall, when St. Thomas disinvited Bishop Desmond Tutu from a speech on campus because he “might offend Jews”. (And the reason you might recall it is that the local leftymedia actually deemed it worth covering (prompting cries of “intimidation of liberals” on the relentlessly left-of-center campus). Of course, the school’s president, Father Deese, has shown his commitment to freedom to be even more craven that this in the past; in 2002, when St. Thomas hosted a Cuban baseball team for an exhibition game, Manuel Chaoui defected, Father Dease forbade any Saint Thomas student from helping the young athlete in his sprint for freedom, making fairly ominous threats about what’d happen to any students caught harboring the fugitive from Castro’s worker’s paradise; Dease took the opportunity to shamelessly beg the Cuban government’s forgiveness for the fact that one of their slaves slipped away on his watch.
Ah, but that’s just liberty. When it comes to one of the Catholic Church’s ostensibly-key tenets – the sanctity of life? Ms. Parker’s main topic?
Universities used to value intellectual diversity and debate. Catholic universities have a centuries-long tradition of this, in and out of the US, a diversity that includes staging “The Vagina Monologues” at Notre Dame, for example. Dease’s actions to stifle dissent at St. Thomas — and to demand the equivalent of a loyalty oath as a prerequisite to speak one’s mind — are not only un-Catholic, but also un-American and un-academic.
I’d have to wonder what a lefty publication would say if a conservative-leaning university – say, Hillsdale College – were to demand such a speech code of those wanting to speak to their students? (And wonder we must; Hillsdale, like most of the tiny coterie of conservative-leaning college, is much gutsier about free speech than most of American academia today.
He has turned St. Thomas into the Zimbabwe of American universities, most of which have already succumbed to a lesser extent to the stultifying grasp of political correctness.
I thought for a moment about Ed’s statement. Zimbabwe?
And then I thought about the reams of examples from Indoctrinate U – conservative newspapers vandalized; conservative faculty ostracized, denied tenure, and forced to defend their existence; students caught espousing conservative values accused of “threatening” other students (with actual intellectual diversity, apparently)…
…and I have to agree. The deep stupidity of this incident not only stands side by side with the Hall of Fame of academic cowardice in Maloney’s film – but it’s merely the latest of many different but utterly similar lapses in academic integrity and moral courage.
The Twin Cities have much to be ashamed of. And while I’m a Protestant and less familiar with this angle, Ed notes that Catholics have even more reason to be outraged:
If Dease and Canney truly believe that, then both need to find new careers, and the Catholic Church needs to reconsider St. Thomas and its entire administration.
Scott Johnson at Powerline adds:
Dease and Canney are tyrants of the petty bureaucratic variety, but they seem to have inspired a rebellion at St. Thomas:
“I’ve got St. Thomas on my calendar, and I plan to come on April 21,” [Parker] said. “If they won’t let me on campus, I’m willing to talk out on the street.”
Let’s just hope Father Dease and his apparatchiks don’t call in the tanks.
If Star Parker is there, I’ll be there. And I hope you will be, too; updates as the situation warrants.
Bring on the tanks, Dease.
NOT VERY TANGENTIAL TANGENT: Last fall, when Saint Thomas when through their extended tete-a-tete with Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Minnesota Monitor – Minnesota’s official George Soros news outlet – demonstrated their commitment to free speech and intellectual inquiry by devoting no less than eight articles to the subject (and, being a supporter of real free speech, I largely agreed).
And when it’s a conservative speaker – as usual – being banned from campus?
It’s hard to hear the tanks over the crickets.