A young zoology major, Elizabeth Hensley, constructed the subdued anti-abortion display. Hensley protested the destruction in the Daily Egyptian and was vigorously attacked online by the "free speech for me, but not for thee" crowd. You see, Hensley provoked "understandable outrage," etc. Their reaction was reminiscent of that phrase "blaming the victim."
Others came to Hensley's defense--online--but the silence from the administration was deafening compared to its overreactions in other instances. Examples: the Marc Torney case (where the entire campus came justifiably to Torney's free speech defense). Or the single "anti-feminist" email that resulted in immediate action by the chancellor's office (suspension of email, Judicial Affair charges, and more--read below). Then there was the rush to praise "diversity" when black suspects mugged a white person. A great teachable moment about law and order on campus -- and it became more gruel for prattling the mantra of diversity. Clearly, the campus pooh-bahs will defend some more vigorously than others.
One can imagine the reaction if some person violated Muslim or Jewish property on campus, much less a Black History display. We would hear that "Klan thinking" is just below the surface of our serene campus. Chancellor Goldman would take out a half-page advertisment in the Daily Egyptian (as he did last year when a student emailed a drunken rant about feminists to an off-campus web site editor). Student Judicial Affairs would go into action, and if the SIU Police located the culprit, the full force of the Student Conduct Code would come swiftly down upon him or her.
***Historical note: The last great flowering of the Ku Klux Klan in southern Illinois violently targeted Catholics and led to the destruction of a Catholic hospital in Herrin. Better dead than alive by Catholic hands was the thinking.***Yesterday, there was a far more explicit anti-abortion display on campus. With SIU Police watching, there was no destruction of property. Later that night a debate followed between pro-choice and pro-life speakers. So, what began as an ugly trampling of free speech, ended in vigorous debate over an issue that isn't going away.
Tonight there is another campus debate dealing with pornography. Last week, we had a high-level debate on the merits of a state constitutional convention. Add the ACLU/Law School debate over the Student Conduct Code.
Kudos to the sponsors of these debates. Let them continue.