Dear President Stearns (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Earlier this semester, I was invited to speak at the University of Montana (UM) as part of a distinguished lecture series funded by an outside benefactor. For ten years, the series has been organized in conjunction with the school of journalism and has involved meetings with journalism students and professors. The nine previous lectures went off without a hitch. Then, they invited me to speak in February of 2018. Now, I have been banned from speaking on your campus.
The decision to ban me from speaking at UM was made by Dean of Journalism Larry Abramson. In an email to the series benefactor, Abramson provides some reasons why I was not given a platform to speak. Many of them deserve a rebuttal, which I will provide after quoting his email directly:
“If you jump in at 3:30 on the link at the bottom, you can hear (Dr. Adams) talking about his opposition to tolerance of transgender accommodations. He appears to be siding with Christians in the “culture war.” In this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oX9ya3EW04 he talks about his efforts to make sure that abortion providers give time to Christian speakers, in the interest of freedom of speech. He also talks about the prevalence of “cultural Marxism,” and exclusively speaks on right wing sites. In this one, https://townhall.com/columnists/mikeadams/2017/04/07/why-im-banning-illegal-aliens-from-my-classes-n2310029 he talks about why he will no longer allow “illegal aliens” into his classes. I think we can find a speaker who will talk about free speech issues, without running the risk of offending students. We can still have a conversation with him if you want, but he is pretty extreme in his views.”
There are at least eight problems with this statement, which I will tackle in the order in which they appear in the Dean’s email.
- Transgender litmus test. In the speech to which the Dean links, I express my support for the controversial HB2 bill. At the time I expressed that view the majority of the people who live in my state agreed with me. Thus, it is not an extreme view. It is a mainstream view, which the Dean rejects. It is hardly a view that would warrant my exclusion from a campus in Montana where the majority of the people surely agree with me on this issue.
- Siding with Christians. This is simply unbridled religious bigotry. For the Dean to suggest that speakers must not side with Christians on cultural issues lest they be banned from campus raises serious questions concerning his competence. Is he suggesting that only those who side against Christians are welcomed?
- Abortion providers. In my speech, I talk about campus Women’s Resource Centers using mandatory student fees to fund speeches in favor of abortion but not those in opposition to abortion. That violates Supreme Court precedent. Somehow, the Dean confuses these centers with abortion providers. Obviously, we don’t perform abortions here on campus in our Women’s Centers.
- Cultural Marxism. The Dean mocks the concept of cultural Marxism by putting it in scare quotes. If he believes it is not a legitimate concept then he needs to explain why it is not. I explain the concept in my speech and provide examples. He should rebut my argument rather than simply using it as a justification for banning me.
- Right-wing sites. The Dean claims that I “speak” exclusively on right wing sites. That is false. I have been on MSNBC, Air America, and numerous other left-wing stations and sites. I have also appeared on NPR where Abramson worked for nearly 30 years. Most importantly, I have spoken at 93 different universities, the overwhelming majority of which have been dominated by left-wing academics such as Dean Abramson. In short, I have stepped out of my comfort zone and demonstrated the kind of intellectual courage the Dean lacks.
- Banning illegal aliens. In the satirical column, to which the Dean links, I criticize a professor who holds open border views and yet insists that juniors be prevented from “jumping in line” to sign up for senior classes. We know it is satire because I am not actually in possession of the immigration status information of students who seek enrollment in my classes. Everyone seems to understand my journalistic satire except for your Dean of Journalism.
- Demanding open borders. What if I actually were trying to ban illegal aliens from my classes? Is it the business of the Dean to demand that people turn a blind eye to illegal immigration lest they be banned from campus? The hint that this is yet another litmus test comes with his use of scare quotes around the phrase.
- Not offending students. Finally, the Dean of Journalism states that he cannot allow for the mere risk that his students will be offended. Thus, the Dean is engaging in prior restraint of all speech that could potentially offend someone. Let that sink in as you continue to ponder this man’s competence to serve as Dean of Anything much less the Dean of Journalism.
Abramson was quoted in a recent newspaper interview as saying, “I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sure our lawyers would tell you that there are requirements that we accommodate different people’s views, but the J-school does not have to invite people that we think don’t match with our priorities or our values as a tolerant, welcoming school.”
Try to make sense of the logic of this Dean telling me I am not going to be tolerated or welcomed at the J-school because I am not as tolerant and welcoming as they are at the J-school. After finishing a career with NPR, now he’s teaching future journalists. Any wonder why we have a problem with honesty both in reporting and in higher education?
If you were smart, you would lift the ban on me speaking at UM. Then, you could hire me as your new Dean of Journalism.
Mike S. Adams