Destruction of Property as “Free Speech”

“Hypocrisy” might be a good word for it. “Ignorant” and “bigoted” are also good words. You might wonder, and justifiably so, whether Sally Jacobsen believes destruction of abortion clinics qualifies as “free speech.”

She said, “I did, outside of class during the break, invite students to express their freedom of speech rights to destroy the display if they wished to.” According to the article, “She declined to say if she took part.” And yet, in this article, the photograph shows her taking part in the destruction of one of the signs. No wonder she declined to say whether she had taken part. Some might call her non-admission lying. Some would be right. One wonders what taking down pro-life crosses has to do with British Literature, the class which she was supposedly teaching at the time.

The Cincinnait Enquirer’s editorial is quite right:

Her own “outrage” at a display she found offensive pales beside the outrage students, college staff and the rest of us should feel at her behavior. What she called a “silly display” is symbolic speech clearly protected by the U.S. Constitution, as precious as any other right Jacobsen might say she was advocating for.

She said she was offended by the display. So what? Does she think she has the right to obliterate someone else’s expression just because it offends her? Would she deface a painting she didn’t care for? Smash a statue she didn’t like? Burn books in the library if she disagreed with them?

I think stereotypes are generally a bad thing, but it’s hard not to stereotype when there are comment exchanges like this one at The Northerner. As usual, a complete lack of proportionality on the part of those who dislike the pro-life group’s display. All reputable pro-life organizations consistently condemn violence to advance their cause, yet their critics accuse them of hypocrisy for being upset about Jacobsen’s vandalism. The charge simply doesn’t stick.

Or there’s the ridiculous notion that pro-life students (who may or may not be Christians, let’s remember) only have the right to their speech if they attend a Christian university. That’s nice. Sure, your speech is allowed, but not here–not at a public university.

Irrationality knows no bounds.


10 thoughts on “Destruction of Property as “Free Speech”

  1. Obviously what’s she condoned is ludicrous and not an example of protected free speech.

    But isn’t this story a “man bites dog” story. Meaning that it’s interesting, but not very representative of what normally happens.

    I’m in the most liberal area in the country, Ralph Nader beat Bush in San Francisco back in 2000. My own neighborhood in the suburbs voted 70 to 29 in favor of John Kerry.

    Nobody I know thinks that destroying property as expression is acceptable. Those people exist, but I think they are rare, extremist and probably in similar proportion in both left and right politics.

    It’s not like we are all out here in the bluest of blue states with photos of Bin Laden above our mantles and pleading with young women to get abortions. I mean, if this story is supporting such an image, that’s just wrong, because most of us think this professor’s behavior is wrong.

    Just sayin’


  2. I think that the anti-Bushers are more extreme than the anti-Kerryites. I read more reports of Bush signs being stolen and vandalism of GOP property than the opposite (none or next to none). Maybe the media only reported the one side; but do we really think that’s the side the media would report?


  3. Tim,

    I didn’t think you were painting a broad brush picture of liberals when I read the first post, but after your reply, I’m not so sure.

    I can tell you one thing, I don’t know any liberals that would take down crosses as a protest, and my Catholic friends would be offended if one even suggested that they would do such a thing.

    I visited a Catholic mass in my hometown (73% Kerry) before the last election and we were told to “vote for social justice” which meant voting to protect the well-being of all people –the born and the unborn.

    Perhaps us liberals aren’t so easy to categorize. If we can find more pro-life Democrats, maybe that will become a little more obvious to everyone else.

  4. “Liberal” with regard to a general population center is one thing. “Liberal” within a closed university system can be quite something else.

    This story very much represents the mindset within the closed environment of today’s liberal universities.

    Within the general population there are a lot of self described Liberals who are also religious. But these people, like you David, are not the ones causing the problems.

    For Example:
    I do work at a well recognized university, where most of the people at the top and in tenured teaching positions are predominantly secular humanist or aetheist liberals. And pretty much intellectual elitists. Anything that goes against their view is usually stomped on pretty hard. Ironically, in the interest of Diversity, only their narrow view of Diversity is acceptable.

    When I was younger I used to debate the liberals in the local paper, especially on religious issues. Up until I started getting nasty threatening phone calls. I stopped debating publicly and turned to anonymous web debates for the safety of my family.

    An aquaintance who has a local radio show spoke out against homosexuality recently. One of the local gay activists dug up some private family info and threatened his teenage daughter. (Anonymously of course, so noone knows exactly who he/she is to file charges). This activist was trying to intimidate him into changing his message, and even tried to get him fired from the radio station.

    It’s just creepy.

  5. Regarding the “anti-Bush” folks:

    Fox News Opinion Poll:

    Disapprove of the job Bush is doing:

    23% of Republicans
    62% of Independents
    81% of Democrats

    33% approve of the job Bush is doing.

    The anti Bush crowd is mighty big and I don’t see widespread “expression” in the form of anti Bush vandalism.

  6. David,
    I wasn’t saying anything about liberals. Do you see the word liberal anywhere in the post? Where is there anything political? You brought up the politics, and I think it’s strange that you would so readily assume that when I speak about anti-life fanatics I’m speaking about liberals. Perhaps you are making the point for me.

    “Perhaps us liberals aren’t so easy to categorize. If we can find more pro-life Democrats, maybe that will become a little more obvious to everyone else.”

    I daresay the Democratic Party is *far* more monolithic than the Republican Party. But good luck with finding more pro-life Democrats. I think I know three.


  7. I originally said I didn’t think you were painting all liberals with a broad brush, but then when I posted, you mentioned the anti-Bush issue and that is the larger group of mostly liberals. That’s where I got the idea.

    As for the pro-choicers, the extremists do pretty much what you’d expect from extremists, that is, anything they think advances their cause with no consideration for anyone else’s rights or thoughts on the matter.

    The extreme pro choicers almost make it a religion that you must agree with them. At least most pro choicers that I know will after some challenging will admit that abortion is 1) a failure and 2) probably wrong. I think minds are changing, especially among liberal Catholics who have been pro-choice but are being confronted, as I have been, with the issue that pre-born life is still life. Liberals in theory believe in protecting those that cannot protect themselves and babies and babies not yet born can’t be ignored. In fact, that’s very inconsistent.

    Anyway, I don’t think you are unfair to liberals. In this case you were referring to militant pro abortion folks, rather than militant liberals. It helps me if I know who you’re aiming some needed criticism at, because if you’re aiming fairly, I will join you and criticize with you.

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