The Passion of the Censor

Posted: Jan 31, 2005 12:00 AM

TO: Edwin R. Massey, President, Indian River Community College: 772.462.4701
CC: Johnny Moore, VP of Student Affairs: 772.462.7788;

Dear President Massey:

When I first heard your college had prevented a Christian student group from showing the film The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson, I was taken aback. When I learned your college had previously hosted a live performance entitled ?F*****g for Jesus,? I was disgusted by your school?s double standard. Now that I have learned administrators at your school yanked college students out of class demanding an apology for merely protesting your censorship, I am almost speechless.

Your recent effort to punish students for exercising the right ?to petition the Government for a redress of grievances? is the culmination of a disgraceful saga, which began with your attack on freedom of the press in November of last year. That was when your college rejected the Christian Student Fellowship?s (CSF) effort to post fliers advertising the showing of The Passion of the Christ.

Then, your administration childishly demanded that you and Mr. Moore receive letters of apology from the students who had protested your school?s decision. It appears that your lower administration is wholly unconcerned with the First Amendment rights of your students. Instead, they choose to defend your right to run the college without having your feelings hurt by reasoned criticism.

Your written policies state that Indian River Community College (IRCC) ?students are treated as mature adults.? Nonetheless, you treat them as children while modeling hypersensitive and childish behavior in your handling of this controversy.

Lori LaCivita, your Coordinator of Student Leadership Development, has recently demonstrated that your administration?s hypersensitivity is only exceeded by its arrogance. This is apparent in her demand for a letter of apology to you and Mr. Moore by CSF for simply addressing the college?s ?higher authority? without her permission.

In December, IRCC?s attorney stated that the college had an absolute rule, which prevents R-rated movies from being shown at the college. Clearly, the ?F*****g for Jesus? skit, which involved a character simulating sex with an image of Jesus, violated the spirit of your ban. But, now I have learned that you actually have no written ban on R-rated movies as you have suggested. This policy is simply a contrived excuse for censoring The Passion of the Christ.

Recently, IRCC spokesperson Michelle Abaldo admitted to the Palm Beach Post that the college previously approved a screening of Welcome to Sarajevo, an R-rated documentary film. The admission shows that you have both illegally and immorally violated the rights of CSF.

I sincerely hope that this letter does not offend your ?higher authority,? given its lack of prior approval by Lori LaCivita and other members of your administration. I simply consider your fastidious squeamishness and private sentimentalism to be trumped by the considerations of the First Amendment.

I should also warn you that by the time you read this letter, I will have sent it to over 200,000 friends who share my concern with the erosion of First Amendment rights in higher education. Undoubtedly, hundreds, if not thousands, will be writing and calling you to express outrage at your school?s indefensible conduct.

Some of these communications may be calm; others may be R-rated. That is the price of living in a free society.

Dr. Mike S. Adams ( called President Massey to confirm all facts in this article. Massey?s public relations spokesperson claimed that the facts of the case had been distorted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education ( Dr. Adams gave the school 10 days to provide a list of those distortions. They were unable to produce any. The FIRE, on the other hand, produced independent evidence of the facts contained in this account. Dr. Adams has formed the opinion that IRCC is lying and the FIRE is telling the truth. He is pleased that the First Amendment allows him to voice his opinion.