Liberty University Bans Democratic Club

The Republican Party might becoming a distant second to the Democratic Party in most of the country, but there are still islands where the authoritarian right continues to dominate. The right frequently engages in Orwellian use of words to give the illusion of supporting idea opposite to those they promote. They speak of freedom, liberty, capitalism, and limited government while acting to oppose these views. One example of this is  comes from Liberty University and its president, Jerry Falwell Jr.

The Liberty University has shown its disdain for liberty, along with perhaps showing the only way left for the disgraced Republican Party to survive, by banning the campus Democratic Party club:

Liberty University has revoked its recognition of the campus Democratic Party club, saying “we are unable to lend support to a club whose parent organization stands against the moral principles held by” the university.

“It kind of happened out of nowhere,” said Brian Diaz, president of LU’s student Democratic Party organization, which LU formally recognized in October.

Diaz said he was notified of the school’s decision May 15 in an e-mail from Mark Hine, vice president of student affairs.

According to the e-mail, the club must stop using the university’s name, holding meetings on campus, or advertising events. Violators could incur one or more reprimands under the school’s Liberty Way conduct code, and anyone who accumulates 30 reprimands is subject to expulsion.

Hine said late Thursday that the university could not sanction an official club that supported Democratic candidates.

“We are in no way attempting to stifle free speech.”

Yes, in their mind they can be supporting free speech while banning organizations which say things they do not agree with. Freedom means supporting the right of free speech, even from those you disagree with. P.Z Myers responds:

Well, I’m at a secular university, where our traditional values are built on the Enlightenment, open-mindedness, free inquiry, reason, and secular humanism. I guess I need to go down to the administration building on Tuesday and point out that we have a few organizations — the Young Republicans, Campus Crusade for Christ, etc. — that do not support our mission, and have them shut down.

Oh, dang, I forgot! We’re also committed to free speech (FOR REALZ), so we have to allow our students to express even weird ideas that are the antithesis of rational thought. Rats. I guess I just need to encourage all of our students to speak out on their own personal views in public and private argument.

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9 Comments

  1. 1
    Dan Snyder says:

    While I do not necessarily agree with the LU decision they are a “private” institution and have this right.  You are however very wrong on you assertion that public institutions are committed to “free speech”  The entire “politically correct” movement which dominates these secular universities that you refer to (and other arenas), is a blatant assault on stifling free speech…unless you are in line with the liberal biased agenda.  Recent poing in fact:  The gay agenda, preaches tolerance for their lifestyle  when they are anything but tolerant, not even for a difference of opinion.  Ex: The Miss America Pageant.  Hypocracy at its best.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    They probably can legally ban the group the group but this is still a quite blatant attempt to restrict opposing viewpoints.

    Conservatives love to whine about a “politically correct” movement but when confronted with actual examples they never seem to hold up. When Universities actually do restrict speech, even conservative speech, it is invariably liberals who are defending the right to free speech. P.Z., shows the actual attitude at “secular universities” such as the one where he teaches in the quote in the above post.

    Your one example doesn’t hold up. Carrie Prejean advocated the restriction of rights for gay people. Those who disagree also have the right to express their disagreement. That is the freedom of speech which you do not seem to understand.

    Liberals were disagreeing with Prejean–not denying her freedom of speech. Liberals have also defended Prejean’s freedom of speech while simultaneously disagreeing with her, as I have done in posts here. Liberals have also defended Prejean’s right to keep her crown, while disagreeing with her views, arguing that expression of views we disagree with should not be grounds for disqualifying her.

  3. 3
    Fritz says:

    Universities (and liberals at universities) have a spotty record on speech.  I am happy to separate liberals from leftists — leftists have more of a tendency to want to shout down or physically stop political speech they don’t want on campus. 

    Liberals usually are more willing to tolerate political speech.  But the rub tends to be a desire to make sure nobody on campus (OK, nobody they like on campus) feels unhappy or undignified on unrespected or whatever.  Campus speech codes get put into place to enforce that.  And, of course, the political often is also the personal.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Fritz,

    Once again you are mixing the actions of isolated fanatics with institutional action. There are fanatics on both the left and the right who will shout down their opponents. What is significant is that on the right we see actions such as University administrators actually taking action against a major political party. I doubt there are any liberal universities which have taken action this strong–and if there was it would be liberal groups who would also be opposing it.

  5. 5
    Fritz says:

    Ron, campus speech codes (which by definition suppress speech) are the actions of universities (not isolated fanatics).  And they are mostly put in place at the strong request of self-described liberals, because people should feel that the university is a safe place where they are respected and all that.

    Dartmouth went round and round on this over the years because of a conservative, confrontational, offensive, and often rather funny student newspaper.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    You also spoke of leftists shouting down people, which are not the act of universities.

    The claims from the right about free speech codes have generally been fabrications from the right to attack what they see as liberal universities. Sure Dartmouth went round and round over these attacks–they were under attack from the right over claims of a free speech code which is questionable ever existed.

    While there are certainly problems with the concept, and liberals have been in the forefront of opposing speech codes, there is also a huge difference between trying to prevent hostile living conditions regardless of ideology and the banning of a major political party purely on ideological grounds.

    While the right distorts the facts over charges such as this, we have the very real fact of LU banning the Democratic group. Saying that some liberals support speech codes (while liberals are also fighting the entire idea of this) hardly provides justification for outright acts of suppression of freedom expression by the right.

  7. 7
    Fritz says:

    Ron, I’m not going to try to justify any actions from Falwell U.  That’s just silly.  They are whackjobs.  But, you know, if you are attending Falwell U and you also want to not be conforming to their whackjob ideology, perhaps it is time that you reconsider your life choices.

    Your assertion that self-described liberals have been in the forefront of opposing speech codes does not match my experience.  In my experience, the opposite has been more frequently true.

  8. 8
    LRN says:

    The students involved in the Democratic club and involved in the party itself  knew the principles and doctrines promoted by LU; they knew it was a private, conservative, Christian school. Why are they at LU if they don’t agree with the university’s moral stance? If you don’t like it, tranfer to another university.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Universities, even if religious, should be a place where different ideas can be considered. Some find it remarkable that there are any Democrats there at all, but there is a real movement among some evangelicals to reconsider whether conservative political views are really consistent with Christian religious views. It should be part of a University to allow consideration of such viewpoints.

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