Don't get mad, get Egan!

Posted: Apr 25, 2005 12:00 AM

Most college professors look forward to the summer because May, June, and July are the three best reasons to become a professor in the first place.

But I have a busy summer ahead of me as I will finish my second book about the campus cultural wars. The book - "The Art of Cultural War: Rules for Campus Radicals" - is inspired by brave students like the College Republicans, or CRs, at Gonzaga University.

Last April, the CRs set up a table inside the Gonzaga student center in order to obtain signatures in support of the "Defend Marriage Amendment."

Next to their table, four other clubs set up tables accompanied by a large sign reading "Boycott Homophobia." Among these clubs was the Justice Club, whose advisor is Fr. Robert J. Egan (see my previous article, "East of Egan").

This was an obvious message from the Justice Club calling the CRs "homophobes" for supporting the amendment. Shortly thereafter, the Justice Club also distributed a pamphlet around the Gonzaga campus, which featured a cover showing two men kissing. The back of the pamphlet said that anyone finding the cover offensive was suffering from "homophobia."

Just before this incident took place, I published an article called "With liberty and comfort for all," suggesting campus conservatives mock liberals by filing "hate speech" and "discriminatory harassment" claims every time they were offended by liberal speech. One purpose of the article was to remind readers that these speech codes were passed by liberals in order to censor conservative speech.

But the article was also a call to action, which I hoped would persuade campus liberals to repeal these Orwellian, immoral, and usually unconstitutional speech codes. It would seem easier to repeal such a code than to take seriously a plethora of complaints from "offended" students, faculty, and staff.

Gonzaga's then-CR advisor Erin Bishop took my advice. She sent a complaint to the head of club activities, Anna Gonzales, requesting a formal apology from the four Gonzaga clubs involved in calling the CRs "homophobes." The complaint stated that they were "offended." It also said they were victims of "discriminatory harassment."

Anyone could see the humor in the complaint as well as the serious point Bishop was making about free speech. But Professor Robert J. Egan didn't.

Here are excerpts from his response to the complaint:

...the College Republicans have filed a formal complaint against the Justice Club and other sponsoring organizations. And this because they felt WE were discriminating AGAINST THEM! To me it sounds like what some psychologists call a delusion of reference with paranoid features. Why did they assume it was directed against them? Actually, I feel sorry for them. Lately, they certainly have had an odd propensity to go "crying to daddy" when their fragile feelings get hurt. If it were not for this psychological consideration, I clearly would be very angry about what would then constitute a reckless and stupid professional insult...

But is "Boycott Homophobia" really, as the complaint claims, "name calling"?

Would it make sense to say, "The College Republicans are Homophobic?" Or is it possible that the actual words on the sign don't really matter? Yet what the sign actually said was: "Boycott Homophobia." Do the College Republicans support this cause or oppose it? It's hard to tell. Are they in favor of homophobia or against it? If they're against it, why are they complaining about a sign that says to boycott it?

But no, it was not against them, according to the letter filing the complaint, but against "their beliefs." The Justice Club was "...discriminating against their beliefs." I hardly know where to begin here!

The Justice Club was simply displaying a familiar sign. They apparently thought the sign was about their beliefs. it even possible to "discriminate against beliefs" after all? Do "beliefs" actually have civil rights?

...If, for example, we had, College Fascists on campus, and they were collecting signatures on a petition urging the deportation of unrepentant Jews to East Timor, and some students on campus were characterizing them as anti-semites, might the Fascists here successfully file a complaint against these people since the Fascists, say, had denied being anti-semitic?...Of course, the fact is they would be anti-semitic whether they liked the name or not, and whether they acknowledged its truth or not.

...I feel the GSBA Executive Board will probably laugh off this ludicrous complaint. Should they take it seriously enough to so much as chastise the Justice Club, perhaps I should in justice file a formal complaint against the College Republicans: first, for seeming to suggest that members of the Justice Club, perhaps myself included after all, have the intention to endanger and/or destroy the institution of "marriage" precisely by extending its benefits to a class of American citizens presently barred from marriage.

...Perhaps I could also bring a formal complaint against them for harassment, for filing more and more frivolous complaints against us and others on campus who care about the poor and oppressed minorities in the first place, that defy common sense, the rules of logic, and the rules of grammar.

Perhaps I could file a formal complaint against the GSBA Executive Board, should it be dumb enough to take some action on this complaint, for political bias, violation of the principle of equal protection, and morally and intellectually embarrassing incompetence...Let's become a real university a little more decisively. This complaint really would be laughable, after all, if it were not morally so appalling.


Robert J. Egan

Without even knowing it, Professor Egan made a strong argument against campus speech codes. These codes are not only childish, but unenforceable. They are also morally appalling as Egan suggests.

But these speech codes have survived because campus leftists like Professor Egan don't really believe in free speech. They have never responded to conservative arguments against the codes. That is because the codes are intended to suppress debate. It is also because the codes were being used against someone else.

But now the tide is turning. Next semester, I am calling on conservatives across the nation to file, not hundreds, but thousands of these frivolous complaints against the campus leftists who initiated these codes in the name of diversity.

After launching a "shock and awe" campaign of frivolous complaints, conservatives can sit back and enjoy a sudden liberal interest in discussing campus censorship. While angry professors like Robert Egan make our case for us, we can just sit back, laugh, and pop open a cold one.

It all reminds me of a reader who once challenged me to name any occupation as fun and rewarding as being a campus conservative, fighting against the campus thought police.
Of course, I never answered him. For once, I was speechless.