Author’s Note: Mike Adams will be speaking outside the Capitol Building in Denver at noon on January 21st for Colorado Right to Life (http://www.coloradorighttolife.org/). The speech will kick off the 2012 March for Life. The event is open to the public.
In January 2009, a pro-life group at Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC) decided to publicize and protest the disproportionate abortion rate among black Americans. They argued that the racist roots of Planned Parenthood were reflected in the organization’s activities in our nation’s inner cities. But before they could hold their event, they had to have their posters approved by the college administration. They were denied approval ostensibly because they presented only one side of the issue. In other words, the administration tried to force them to argue the side of the debate with which they disagreed.
The administration claimed that “biased” speech could lead to hate speech, which, in turn, could lead to genocide. Think about that for a second: if the pro-life group protested Planned Parenthood’s genocide, then genocide could result unless they also argued in favor of abortion.
Common sense alone should have reigned in the SFCC administration. But it required the intervention of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and the Washington Attorney General. In the end, the student pro-life group prevailed.
Later that semester, a student at Los Angeles Community College (LACC) was given a chance to speak on a topic of his own choosing. He chose to speak about the role God has played in his life. During the speech, he mentioned a Bible verse affirming the traditional definition of marriage. His professor was incensed. He abruptly ended the class and refused to grade the student’s speech.
After the ADF intervened, there was a successful federal injunction against the speech code that was used to punish the LACC student for uttering “offensive” speech. The matter should have ended there but it did not. The school appealed to the 9th Circuit, which ruled that the student did not have standing to challenge the speech code. It was a bizarre ruling, given that the student was, in fact, punished with public humiliation and withholding of credit for work he did in a class he paid to take. Then again, this was in the 9th Circuit.
Last year at Vanderbilt University, a homosexual student knowingly joined a student group espousing beliefs which he actively opposed. After he was predictably removed from the group, he complained to the university administration. This resulted in an investigation of several hundred student groups. In the wake of the investigation, Vanderbilt administrators began threatening to derecognize student groups that required members to adhere to specific beliefs. This bizarre belief-ban went even further. Vanderbilt began to threaten de-recognition of Christian groups that required leaders to lead Bible studies. It was so intrusive that it resulted in a letter of condemnation from 23 members of the United States Congress to the administration.
All of these cases show how identity politics, rooted in postmodernism, is destroying the marketplace of ideas at our nation’s colleges and universities. The lack of principle is seen in cases like Georgia Tech (see part one of this series) where feminists pretended to be offended by words they often use themselves. Their assault on “offensiveness” was shown to be contrived when their allies invoked racially offensive language to attack the opponents of the Georgia Tech speech code. Defenders of the speech code even superimposed swastikas on pictures of one of the Jewish plaintiffs.
The postmodern roots of identity politics show through in the cases I mentioned. In none of them was there any attempt to assert that the offending beliefs were untrue. They were simply determined (usually by white liberals) to be offensive to various disenfranchised groups said to lack the power to establish their own beliefs as “true.” At Georgia Tech it was women (feminist women). At SFCC it was blacks. At LACC and Vanderbilt it was homosexuals. In each case, postmodernism fueled a vicious assault on free speech in the name of group-based identity politics. In each case, there was a significant chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas, which no institution of higher learning can long withstand.
Public universities can be sued in federal court whenever they try to enforce overly broad speech codes. They may also be sued when their zeal to control student groups encroaches upon freedom of association. Private schools, on the other hand, are not bound by the First Amendment. But they are bound by moral considerations. If they tell students they promote a diversity of opinion, they should behave as if the First Amendment does, in fact, apply at their university. They should not use false promises of diversity to lure students into paying tens of thousands of dollars tuition per year.
But what are the requirements of a Christian university? I believe they are twofold: First, the Christian university must remain Christian. That means certain core beliefs are taken off the table as un-debatable. Belief in the deity of Christ and His resurrection are among those beliefs.
Second, the Christian university must remain a university. And that requires the maintenance of robust debate on the vast majority of the controversial issues of the day. It also means that student groups must be given wide latitude in writing their own constitutions, selecting their own leaders, and sponsoring their own events.
In John 14:6, Christ claimed that there is but one path to heaven. No greater affirmation of objective truth is needed. Christianity is and will always be a religion predicated upon individual, not group, salvation. In Galatians 3:28, Paul affirms what Christ was saying: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Christianity has no room for postmodernists. They should be left to enjoy their speech code-enforced dominance within the shallow halls of the secular university.