Friday, May 16, 2014

Can A Student At Liberty University Believe in First Amendment Values

One of my favorite Louisiana reporters and columnist  Mark Mosley has a rather scathing piece on Governor Bobby Jindal's Religious Liberty speech at Liberty University . See Jindal dances around the truth, disguising anti-gay bigotry as freedom of speech .

My main purpose here is not to talk about the gay discrimination issue but something else. However I think I need to address a few points.

I am a little frustrated that I have not seen the entire speech yet or a link to it. Most critics are focusing on certain excerpts that were released  last week . I suspect with the wide range of attacks on religious liberty the " discrimination " against gays was not the only topic. See HHS mandate cases and other matters .

Let me say that as to " discrimination " I think a lot of Christians and others that think that homosexuality is wrong are also against unjust discrimination.  However these same Christians , and in fact many that support the civil right of same sex  marriage , have trouble with cases of compelled speech. Such as a wedding photographer or a baker being forced to service a same sex wedding and other similar cases that we see in the courts nowadays.

Mosley is perhaps right that Jindal needs to be pushed into what he sees as just or unjust discrimination and state it on the record. However Mosley I think is guilty as Jindal in not stating the complexity of the situations and the collision of rights.

What struck me however  was Mosley 's assertion that these folks at Liberty University could not believe in First Amendment values because of the schools honor code among other things  . In fact MY GOD they don't even allow dancing !

I have to agree there are certain things I don't agree with at Liberty University . Still I think his assertion is false or the leap he seems to be making is false

I am big advocate of First amendment freedoms on the college campus both public and private .  As to public universities I hold them to the highest standards. As to private universities it largely depends on how they sell themselves.  In fact how a private college has sold itself to a student is critical in the inquiry .

A private college  , whether religious or not  , has I argue a moral and indeed a legal obligation to perform by the promises they made in the student handbook. So if a private university has promised to be a bastion of freedom of thought , ideas , and expression they better perform on it .

Needless to say Liberty University does not sell itself as Wake Forest that has a much more lose Baptist affiliations nowadays . Student know what they are getting into and in fact have purchased the right  ,with a lot of money usually ,   to be in that environment . In the end I give a Liberty University a lot more rope than lets say a place like Tufts  . See Can Tufts Handle Religious Pluralism?

I have no doubt that at Liberty University  there are many  libertarians that have strong feelings on the the freedom of speech and First amendment values. Mosley seems to be making  a leap that Liberty University students would be happy with how their campus treated expression and speech to be in the public square. I find that rather doubtful on a whole range of matters . Especially among American  Baptist where religious liberty is often in their DNA .

We can look at other situations. For instance many people that go to military academies have all sorts of the First amendment expression curtailed. But it would be silly to say that because of that they are can't respect the First amendment.

Look at my views. If I ran Catholic Colleges  I would be cracking the whip more on student groups and other activities that run very contrary to the Catholic Faith. A Pro Choice group on a Catholic college campus are you kidding ?  Of course one problem is the lack of Catholic ID on campuses. Also some Catholic Colleges via their student handbooks seem to not to have laid down what is expected . That problem needs to be addressed there.

However those views do not stop me from advocating for the right of pro choice groups on public campuses  from  not having their speech curtailed .  I don't think I am alone in that and those views I suspect are at places even like Liberty University.


Anonymous said...

Hey, at least Liberty thought Bobby Jindal had a right to speak on campus. Would Bob Jones University have gone that far for a Catholic?

Not to mention Brandeis with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The second a woman, and/or a third-worlder, doesn't toe the line as laid down by the elits, out the door with her.

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