October 10, 2013
When I attended Southern Methodist University more than 40 years ago, we were always grateful for Texas Christian University — and Rice Institute — because they ensured we wouldn't be dead last in football in the now-defunct Southwest Conference. After getting mowed down by the likes of Arkansas, Texas and Texas A&M, a game against TCU gave us hope for something in the win column beyond season-opening tomato cans like Sul Ross or Stephen F. Austin.
So looking down on TCU comes naturally, though the Fort Worth school has had good success on the gridiron in recent years, in contrast to my alma mater, which has never recovered from the NCAA "death penalty" it received in 1987.
Now, I'm cocking a snoot at the Horned Frogs for a much more important reason: The university's cavalier attitude toward freedom of speech.
The TCU Young Americans for Freedom had invited Bay Buchanan, sister of commentator Pat Buchanan and a former Reagan Administration official, to address the group. Their flyer for the occasion, which incorporated mug shots of Buchanan and Reagan with a Biden-approved hammer double shotgun, was nixed by the administration, along with their plans to raffle concealed carry instruction or a shotgun and hunting class.
Check out the video from WFAA-TV in Dallas.
Dr. Kathy Cavins-Tull, TCU's vice chancellor for student affairs, issued a statement to KENS in San Antonio that read, in part, "We are mindful that we students have a right to gather and dialogue about ideals and beliefs that they support. That is a big part of what being at a University is all about. However, those dialogues and discussions should be managed in a tasteful manner that does not offend or alarm other students, faculty or staff or members of our surrounding community who have differing viewpoints. Producing a poster with a rifle on it and the words 'fully loaded' can certainly cause alarm in today's environment."
We'll leave aside the question of exactly when "dialogue" became a verb. Probably about the same time "interface" won that status. We also won't expect a college administrator with a hyphenated name to know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun.
We will not leave aside the notion that free speech on campus is limited to commentary presented "in a tasteful manner that does not offend or alarm other students, faculty or staff or members of our surrounding community who have differing viewpoints."
Those of us who live by traditional values are perpetually told we have to accept whatever speech modes might be selected by, say, the LGBTQ — that's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer for those of you who haven't set foot on campus lately — community, even if those include same-sex kiss-ins on the steps of a church. Those who are Jews are told they must sit by quietly if the Muslim Student Association demands divestment from Israel and excuses Iranian calls for the liquidation of the Jewish state. Apologists for Castro or Hugo Chavez or Robert Mugabe get full scope to say what they like, wherever they like and however they like.
But let a few conservative students try to support the Bill of Rights? Well, that might cause "alarm," and we can't have that, can we?
Those of you old enough to remember the 1960s will remember Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. Savio, who gained instant fame when he leaped atop a police car and delivered an impassioned speech in 1964, died in 1996, but it's clear to me that we need someone like him to fight for free speech on campus today. Any volunteers?