University of Massachusetts Liberals Against the First Amendment

university-of-massachusetts-amherst-4f736c5dI am usually very proud to be a graduate of the University of Massachusetts.

Not today.

AMHERST, Mass., April 16, 2009—Multiple First Amendment violations have rocked the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus in recent days. UMass has done nothing about the videotaped theft of and, later, the student government’s official censorship of The Minuteman, a conservative campus newspaper that mocked a student government official. Worse, last night, when a student senator offered a bill to reverse the unconstitutional censorship of The Minuteman, the Senate’s speaker had the UMass police throw him out (video of this incident is expected soon). These assaults on free speech came in the wake of last month’s disgraceful episode in which a speech by columnist Don Feder was shouted down by hecklers while UMass police officers did nothing. (source)

What caused the tiff? The UMass conservative organization, the Silent Majority, publishes a newspaper called “The Minuteman.” The most recent issue of The Minuteman exposed some financial irresponsibility in another student organization, Bridges (an organization that is supposed to spend its funds to tutor minority students), and mocked the organization and its director. The Expose appears on the first page of this document.

The next page of The Minuteman contained the following content:

‘STUDENT BRIDGES’, Our Jackass of the Month

• The only thing more horrifically large than their bloated 172K FY2009 budget is the bloated backside of
their responsibility-averse Director, Vanessa Snow.

• The only thing more wasteful than the careless way they manage their budget were the amount of
uneaten tacos and burritos they left at Taco Bell.

• They spent more money on food, drinks, hotels, and rental cars in Fiscal Year 2008 than Eliot Spitzer
spent on high-class hookers. (Well, almost)

• They failed to show any tangible quantitative achievements in their program during Fiscal Year 2008, yet
had the arrogant audacity to request a $50,000 larger budget when most student groups’ overall budget
allocations are less than $5,000.

• They, in essence, take your Student Activities Fee money to discriminatorily tutor poor minority students
without showing any tangible results.

• Under the guise of “building bridges to education opportunities” and acting as a “community service
organization,” the only servicing this group of corrupt bureaucrats-in-training does is at the salad bar at
Salsarengue, where it spent a preposterously indefensible $5000 in Fiscal Year 2008, thus literally making
Director Snow’s ass its own (rather large) budgetary line item for Fiscal Year 2009

• Given all the time this clumsy group of freeloading Leftists spends at restaurants in Holyoke, it is no
wonder that their obesity rate is higher than their mentored students’ high school graduation rate ‘STUDENT BRIDGES’, Our Jackass of the Month (source)

The Bridges crew wasn’t too pleased about this, so they engaged in a pretty time-honored UMass tradition: They stole all of the copies of the newspaper that they didn’t want others to read. The UMass student government association responded by calling for the conservative group’s funding to be cut unless they purchased an advertisement in the campus’ main newspaper, The Collegian, apologizing for the above statements. (source)

Despite the fact that the measure violated the First Amendment in two different ways, it still passed. The resolution passed, and when a student senator attempted to introduce his own measure repealing the clearly unconstitutional measure, he was escorted from the senate floor by campus police.

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is on the case. They issued this letter to the UMass chancellor.

Sadly, I can report that none of this surprises me. While I got a fantastic education at UMass, I can say with great authority that the political correctness crowd runs the place. Any criticism of an organization like Bridges will certainly be met the same way.

I am certainly no fan of the campus right-wing crowd. Nevertheless, my beliefs are strong enough that they can stand in opposition to theirs… and if they can’t, then the marketplace of ideas will have spoken. It is a shame that Vanessa Snow and the Student Government Association don’t feel the same way about theirs.

I’m about as leftie as they come. Hell, my poor wife had to carry our daughter for an extra four days due to obligations I had to the Obama legal team. My liberal bona fides are pretty well established.

But, I’m not a free speech advocate only when it is my ox being gored. Well, yes I am… when free speech is under attack, it is always my ox being gored… whether that is the free speech of adult entertainment companies, protestors against the war in iraq, or the KKK.

Any “liberal” who doesn’t stand up for the Minuteman has no right to complain the next time it is liberal-valued free speech under attack.

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7 Responses to University of Massachusetts Liberals Against the First Amendment

  1. Brandon says:

    Those interested in contacting the UMass Administration and Student Government may do so here

  2. Jessica says:

    It’s sad that the UMass administration hasn’t jumped on this as a teaching moment – it’s not like there’s no professors available who understand the legal issues.

  3. Mekhong Kurt says:

    I’m neither an attorney nor a legal scholar, but in my youth I worked a little while as a policeman and a long while as a security patrolman with a firm in Dallas, Texas that worked very closely with local law enforcement. With that background, I developed a strong layman’s interest in the Constitution and constitutional law (and ran attorney friends nuts asking them questions!),

    I later went into university teaching, both in the U.S. and abroad, and while I’ve never so much as been on the UMass campus, I’ve always held it in high regard.

    Now I’m re-thinking that, because despite my background, I’m very liberal and a die-hard supporter of the Constitution. That puts me on the same side as you, Sir.

    I’m both appalled and outraged — as any American ought to be.

    Anything this side of falsely screaming “FIRE!” in a theater is pretty much sacrosanct. Or so I thought.

    Mekhong Kurt
    Bangkok, Thailand

  4. allen1972 says:

    I’m a die hard conservative that enjoys and learns from you site, sarcasm & irreverance notwithstanding. I appreciate that you seem to be one of very few liberals who can remain fair & consistant despite differing political leanings. Generally speaking, the UMass behavior you’re describing typifies the common liberal. Thanks for standing true to the arena of ideas…and the Constitution on this issue.

  5. It would be important to note that the administration has vetoed the enactment you mention. I’m a reporter covering the campus beat and I received a memo from vice chancellor for student affairs Esther Terry to the SGA saying she wouldn’t sign it.

    I’m happy to talk to anyone with a legal background about the specifics of the case; it might help round out my coverage. spsulliv [at] dailycollegian [dot] com.

  6. […] UPDATE: UMass Rejects P.C. Censorship Last week we reported on how some University of Massachusetts liberals thought that free speech only means politically correct speech. See University of Massachusetts Liberals Against the First Amendment. […]

  7. […] And if you’re a leftie, but not screaming about this, shut up the next time “they” come for you. Possibly related posts: (automatically […]

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