Georgia on my Mind

Posted: Nov 30, 2004 12:00 AM

Over the last eighteen months, I have written 126 editorials, almost all of which have discussed the deplorable state of higher education in America. After reading many of my articles, concerned parents often ask me the $64,000 question: ?So where am I supposed to send my kids to college?? Today, I write to offer a recommendation.

My recommendation of the University of Georgia (UGA), our nation?s oldest public university (sorry Tar Heel fans) will probably come as a surprise to many readers. After all, I did turn down an offer to attend graduate school at UGA in 1990. To make matters worse, I turned down a scholarship to attend UGA School of Law in the fall of 1998. And, of course, there is the matter of that nasty article I wrote about UGA just a few short weeks ago.

My recent article criticizing UGA?s safe zone program focused on a document that was posted on the UGA website. The document made a number of wild assertions about the relationship between the Bible and homosexuality. For example, it suggested that there was no condemnation of homosexuality in either the Old or the New Testament. It also stated that King David and Saul?s son Jonathan were involved in a homosexual relationship. Finally, after explicitly stating that the prophet Daniel was gay, the document suggested that King David?s great-grandmother Ruth was a lesbian.

Readers of my editorial correctly concluded that the document had no place on the public university?s website. But they came to that conclusion, based upon two reasons, both of which were incorrect. First, readers claimed the document should be removed because it was ?offensive.? Second, they claimed that the document violated the ?doctrine? of separation of church and state.

The real justification for removing the controversial safe-zone document has to do with a Supreme Court case dealing with the distribution of student activity fees at public universities. Students may not demand a refund of their student activity fees merely because the funds are used to promote speech that offends them. However, public universities must maintain ?viewpoint neutrality? when using student fees to promote various speakers, programs, and initiatives.

But few public universities bother following this mandate, although it was articulated by the Court over four years ago. Instead, most schools continue to spend wildly disproportionate amounts of student fees to promote the political agenda of liberal college administrators and professors. This is usually done under the guise of various ?diversity? initiatives.

For example, in the UNC system, where I teach, administrators work with gay student organizations to co-sponsor gay proms, gay pride weeks, drag queen days, gay unity conferences, sermons by gay preachers, and even ?consultants? brought in to preach to university employees about the compatibility between the Bible and homosexuality. They offer no support for contrary viewpoints, even upon request.

When clear violations of the requirement of viewpoint neutrality are brought to the attention of UNC administrators, there is never an admission of wrongdoing. The policy of the UNC system is to lie to students or to ignore them altogether. UNC administrators know that they are violating the constitutional rights of their students but they correctly assume that, in most cases, students will not file suit to uphold the constitution. Furthermore, educators hope that after another generation of apathy, conservative Christians will be ignorant of whatever religious freedoms they may still retain.

But administrators at the University of Georgia have done something that UNC administrators would never do. They have now removed the aforementioned ?safe zone? document from the UGA website, presumably without a federal injunction.

Citizens of this country have every right to say that David, Jonathan, and Daniel were gay or that Ruth was a lesbian. I strongly support the rights of leftists to damage their credibility by saying stupid things in public.

But the constitution is supposed to protect offensive speech that is directed by individuals towards governments.  It is not the role of the government to direct offensive speech towards its citizens, using public funds and dismissing public outcry under the guise of academic freedom.

The time has come for our public universities to assume the role of viewpoint neutral facilitators of political activism, not as political activists stifling the views of those with whom they disagree.

I get the sense that the University of Georgia has the capacity to admit (and correct) fundamental constitutional errors made in the name of political correctness. That is why my children will probably be wearing Georgia Red and Black, instead of Carolina Blue.