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Free Speech at Bucknell:

According to FIRE, Bucknell's administrators aren't fans of satire. The first one is pretty clever:

Bucknell's recent forays into censorship began on March 17, 2009, when BUCC members stood at Bucknell's student center and passed out fake dollar bills with President Obama's face on the front and the sentence "Obama's stimulus plan makes your money as worthless as monopoly money" on the back. One hour into this symbolic protest, Bucknell administrator Judith L. Mickanis approached the students and told them that they were "busted," that they were "soliciting" without prior approval, and that their activity was equivalent to handing out Bibles.

The students protested, but despite the fact that Bucknell's solicitation policy explicitly covers only sales and fundraising materials, Mickanis insisted via e-mail that prior permission was needed to pass out any materials—"anything from Bibles to other matter."

They also got busted for the old "affirmative action bake sale":

A video recording shows that an hour into BUCC's protest, Associate Dean of Students Gerald W. Commerford arrived and informed the students that he had the "opportunity" to shut down the sale because the prices they were charging were different (lower) than what they had listed on their event application. The students offered to change the prices on the spot, but Commerford refused and insisted that they close the event immediately and file another application for a later date.

Accordingly, BUCC members filed an application to hold the same event two weeks later, but were then told that they would have to obtain the permission of the Dean of Students to hold a "controversial" event. No such permission is required by Bucknell policy. When the students nevertheless attempted to get this special permission, Commerford rejected the request. In a recorded conversation, Commerford said that such a bake sale would violate Bucknell's nondiscrimination policy, even with satirical recommended (not actual) pricing, and that the only event he would approve on the topic would be a debate in a different forum altogether. This novel restriction also does not exist among Bucknell's official policies.

Steve:
I think the "affirmative action bake sale" stopped being controversial right about the same time as Allan Bloom's book did. Bucknell must have some awfully uptight administrators to get concerned about protests this trivial.
6.11.2009 5:32pm
K. Dackson (mail):
When will these administrators ever learn that all this ever does is 1) give the college bad press, and 2) cost them monetarily since they WILL lose in court?
6.11.2009 5:38pm
Redman:
No doubt Bucknell claims that it is a liberal institution which encourages its students to think for themselves.
6.11.2009 5:42pm
Silvio (mail):
This post is almost as trivial as the actions of the Bucknell administrators and is little more than a transparent attempt to take a shot at President Obama.

Placing President Obama's face on pretend currency to complain about the stimulus plan is hardly "clever."

Give me a break.
6.11.2009 5:43pm
nasch (mail):
Why will they "definitely lose in court." Bucknell is private so they aren't bound by the First Amendment. If they want to stop their students from acting like A-Holes (at least re the bake sale) isn't that their business?
6.11.2009 5:47pm
Officious Intermeddler:
And they say lefties are humorless, Silvio.
6.11.2009 5:48pm
some guy:
... and that their activity was equivalent to handing out Bibles.

What was her point? To gratuitously mention that Bucknell would violate Christians' First Amendment rights as well?
6.11.2009 5:48pm
K. Dackson (mail):

This post is almost as trivial as the actions of the Bucknell administrators and is little more than a transparent attempt to take a shot at President Obama.


And what is the 1st ammendment supposed to protect again?

It may not be "clever", but it still does not warrant the denial of the student's 1sr ammendment rights.

Give ME a break.
6.11.2009 5:49pm
K. Dackson (mail):

Why will they "definitely lose in court." Bucknell is private so they aren't bound by the First Amendment. If they want to stop their students from acting like A-Holes (at least re the bake sale) isn't that their business?



I would suggest that you actually take the time to read the information on FIRE. If they promise academic freedom, they MUST protect academic freedom.
6.11.2009 5:52pm
Duncan_Na (mail):

Weasels like those administrators need to be highlighted every time they come out of their holes to stifle opposing viewpoints. It is absurd that their behavior can be found on an American campus. Many thanks to FIRE and BUCC in their part in opposing the totalitarian diktat of the campus PC thought police.
6.11.2009 5:54pm
GMUSOL05:
Having graduated from Bucknell this decade, I can attest to two things:

1. Gerald Commerford is even more of a d**che than this article suggests; and

2. The BUCC is primarily comprised of attention-whoring kids who don't know the difference between conservatism and being a Republican.
6.11.2009 5:57pm
Just John:
nasch: The article suggests that Bucknell has no rules or policies that allow them to do what they did. If that is so, even if they are not bound by the First Amendment, they are most likely bound by their own rules.
6.11.2009 5:58pm
Oren:
GMUSOL05, but now who will we sympathize with?
6.11.2009 6:06pm
GMUSOL05:

GMUSOL05, but now who will we sympathize with?


Sympathize, as I do, with everyone who chose to attend that school. Lewisburg is a one-stoplight town (no, not literally) surrounded for thirty miles in every direction by pastures. There is hardly anything resembling entertainment there; you have to drive a half hour to get to a movie theater or shopping other than Wal-Mart. There are four bars, populated by townies (cheap drinks, though, the one silver lining). It's little wonder that everyone turns to binge drinking and Greek life just to have something to do.
6.11.2009 6:13pm
liberal dissent (mail) (www):
School administrators tend to be profoundly ignorant of the law. Always surprises me.
6.11.2009 6:32pm
DNL (mail):
Bravo, to the Bucknell administration, for giving the BUCC better publicity than they could have ever bought.
6.11.2009 7:04pm
DNL (mail):
@liberal dissent, bear in mind that school administrators think they *are* the law because typically, they are. Universities and colleges are microcosms of society, replete with their own members-only living spaces, press, legislatures, and monarchs. The vast majority of matters that occur on campuses -- even criminal ones -- are handled by the administration. These administrators no know world outside their own.
6.11.2009 7:11pm
DangerMouse:
More lib "tolerance" at work. Scratch a lib, find a control freak.

And what exactly is wrong with handing out Bibles? It was done all the time when I was in college. What, is that going to be punishable in lib-America too?
6.11.2009 7:15pm
josil (mail):
Suppose, just suppose that a year ago students passed out fake dollar bills with President Bush's face on the front and the sentence "Bush's economic plans makes your money as worthless as monopoly money" on the back. What would be the reaction of Bucknell administrators to this prank.
6.11.2009 7:37pm
ari8 (mail):
Josil:

Brilliant political theater.
6.11.2009 7:38pm
stevefromcleveland:
I would think that normal college students would concentrate on getting laid instead of pulling little stunts like this.
6.11.2009 8:12pm
Desiderius:
"their activity was equivalent to handing out Bibles"

God forbid. Er...

"GMUSOL05, but now who will we sympathize with?"

What does sympathy have to do with it?
6.11.2009 8:48pm
Constantin:
Suppose, just suppose that a year ago students passed out fake dollar bills with President Bush's face on the front and the sentence "Bush's economic plans makes your money as worthless as monopoly money" on the back. What would be the reaction of Bucknell administrators to this prank.

I'm sure that daring to poke fun at Barack was really the impetus for the school's idiocy here. It is bizarre, and both sad and scary, to see the extent to which the left tolerates no criticism of the man himself.

That's not to say they won't gripe about his stance on gay marriage or the war or the stuff he lied to them about, but they simply cannot contemplate anybody poking fun at any of his personal attributes. I'd imagine seeing his picture on that money had a visceral impact on this Bucknell flunky, and that started the ball in motion.
6.11.2009 9:16pm
Jmaie (mail):
I would think that normal college students would concentrate on getting laid instead of pulling little stunts like this.

This is probably how BUCC members GET laid...
6.11.2009 9:42pm
oledrunk3 (mail):
Associate Dean of Students. Sinecure for otherwise unemployable "Educators"
6.11.2009 9:54pm
Justin (mail):
Is there anything lamer than the affirmative action bake sale? Anything at all?

Bucknell's administrators need more skin - their actions are wrong. But that doesn't make the speech here noble.
6.11.2009 11:04pm
glangston (mail):
Justin (mail):
Is there anything lamer than the affirmative action bake sale? Anything at all?

Bucknell's administrators need more skin - their actions are wrong. But that doesn't make the speech here noble.




Well, gosh, I think you've got the answer there.....Bucknell administrators.
6.11.2009 11:20pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Is there anything lamer than the affirmative action bake sale? Anything at all?
Yes. Affirmative action.

I understand why liberals hate those bake sales so much; they illustrate so clearly what affirmative action (*) really is.



(*) I use "affirmative action" here in its modern sense, as race preferences, rather than in its original sense of non-discrimination.
6.11.2009 11:32pm
geokstr (mail):

Constantin:
I'm sure that daring to poke fun at Barack was really the impetus for the school's idiocy here. It is bizarre, and both sad and scary, to see the extent to which the left tolerates no criticism of the man himself.

There's a good reason the left won't permit anyone to "poke fun" at Obama. After decades of relentless and remorseless use, they have internalized Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, and understand Rule #5 very well:

"Ridicule is man's most potent weapon."

It's not that there is nothing funny about Obama or the left, yet comics/Hollywood/TV won't touch him/them. They absolutely hate when their own tactics are used against them, precisely because they understand how effective they are.
6.12.2009 12:36am
Jeff Hall (mail) (www):

GMUSOL05:
Sympathize, as I do, with everyone who chose to attend that school. Lewisburg is a one-stoplight town (no, not literally) surrounded for thirty miles in every direction by pastures. There is hardly anything resembling entertainment there; ... It's little wonder that everyone turns to binge drinking and Greek life just to have something to do.


Then maybe Bucknell should open a library so that the students have something to occupy their free time.
6.12.2009 12:46am
hawkins:
That was a tease. I read the post simply because you said something was clever. Either I missed it or its cleverness is over my head.
6.12.2009 7:49am
Boblipton:
Well, if it's surrounded by pastures, go to the sherriff's office and get the license to hold a rally accross the street from the campus.

Bob
6.12.2009 9:30am
sk (mail):
"Is there anything lamer than the affirmative action bake sale? Anything at all?"

Yes, a whole lot. Affirmative Action bake sales are brilliant.

Sk
6.12.2009 9:39am
Angus:
The college administrator in this case acted like an ass. However, I can no longer take FIRE seriously since they laugh at liberals who get tromped on by colleges. FIRE said it was perfectly reasonable for Liberty University to outlaw the College Democrats, for example.
6.12.2009 9:46am
wfjag:
Handing our fake dollars bearing Pres. Obama's face is equivalent to handing out Bibles.

Is this what's called a "Fraudian Slip"?
6.12.2009 10:02am
J.R.L.:

It's not that there is nothing funny about Obama or the left, yet comics/Hollywood/TV won't touch him/them. They absolutely hate when their own tactics are used against them, precisely because they understand how effective they are.

You mean "the politics of personal destruction"?
6.12.2009 10:07am
cboldt (mail):
-- FIRE said it was perfectly reasonable for Liberty University to outlaw the College Democrats --
.
The other, more fundamental concern with derecognizing the College Democrats is that it makes it clear that Liberty University is not a "free marketplace of ideas" where all ideas can be discussed, argued, and advocated on an equitable basis. ...
The degrees Liberty issues its graduates will lack credibility with certain audiences because Liberty has made impossible a truly free and open debate about issues like abortion, socialism, creationism, and so on. Liberty's students deserve to know that, too, before they make a choice to attend.
FIRE - Liberty University Derecognizes College Democrats
6.12.2009 10:17am
John M. Perkins (mail):
While Bucknell has been sleezy and are stretching the solicitation ban, but handing out fake dollars is worse than handing out Bibles. It can be rational to retrict handouts of slips of paper that are likely to become litter, and maybe require a reasonable cleanup fee.

OTOH, this particular case seems to be content focused.
6.12.2009 10:31am
solplot:

However, I can no longer take FIRE seriously since they laugh at liberals who get tromped on by colleges. FIRE said it was perfectly reasonable for Liberty University to outlaw the College Democrats, for example.


they "laugh" at liberals? The distinction is that Liberty is not pretending to be something it's not (see cboldt's link): "Liberty is a university that restricts speech in the interest of other values." You don't join AA if you want to quit smoking.

The difference, I think, between "conservative" and "liberal" colleges (and I've attended both), is that the latter are more likely to describe themselves as a "free marketplace of ideas" even if the reality is very different.
6.12.2009 10:40am
11-B/2O.B4:
What we need to understand is that free speech protects the minority from the oppression of the all-powerful maleocracy establishment. It was never meant to protect the powerful from the downtrodden. Therefore, criticism of President Obama is illegitimate speech because he's a champion of the little people. This is a corollary of the Feminist perspective, whereby women (52% of the population) are perpetually a minority in need of special privilege and protection. This is why, as the Rev. Jackson so brilliantly proclaimed, minorities can never be racists, because they lack the power. The simple fact is that white males are the vast majority of the population in the country, they own everything, control every major company, every media outlet, why, women aren't even allowed on television, and minorities can't hold public office. Because of this pervasive culture of repression, criticism of the oppressed masses is not protected speech.
6.12.2009 11:02am
LarryA (mail) (www):
Is there anything lamer than the affirmative action bake sale? Anything at all?
Ever watch a political convention?

Affirmative action bake sales are easy to organize and still effectively and immediately piss off the administration and campus liberals. IOW the tactic works. Ain't broke, don't fix it.

A new brilliantly original conservative demonstration might not be as effective, particularly if it's over before the liberals catch on.
6.12.2009 11:11am
Harry Eagar (mail):
'What would be the reaction of Bucknell administrators to this prank.'

Or of Vconspirators?
6.12.2009 1:09pm
Green and Frothing (mail):
Enough Bucknell. Can we please hear more about the persecution of the courageous defenders of free thought at Dartmouth?
6.12.2009 2:16pm
A.S.:
Commerford said that [the affirmative action] bake sale would violate Bucknell's nondiscrimination policy

Does this mean that there is no affirmative action at Bucknell? Including in admissions?
6.12.2009 2:22pm
whit:

The college administrator in this case acted like an ass. However, I can no longer take FIRE seriously since they laugh at liberals who get tromped on by colleges. FIRE said it was perfectly reasonable for Liberty University to outlaw the College Democrats, for example


even if true, a silly argument about FIRE.

liberty makes it abundandly clear that they are not a place for free exchange of ideas. instead, they make it abundantly clear that they are an institution that uses prejudice and religion in their decision making about student actions (and the admission of students), and that they place strict restrictions on student conduct.

what FIRE opposes is either public institutions, private institutions that receive public money, and private institutions that advertise as promoters of a free exchange of ideas, from discriminating based on speech,religion, etc.

that is entirely different than FIRE not going after liberty, an institution that is DESIGNED as an institution that uses religious (and other) discrimination, that advertises as such and does not falsely mislead potential students, and that does not receive govt. money.

iow, liberty university is completely disanalogous to bucknell

hth
6.12.2009 2:50pm
Tim McDonald (mail):
"There are four bars, populated by townies (cheap drinks, though, the one silver lining). It's little wonder that everyone turns to binge drinking and Greek life just to have something to do."

Ah, Townies. Those lowlifes. Let us make sure we practice segregation from them. They are unworthy to be graced with out presence. We must watch out for them! They are incapable of making decisions for themselves and we must make their decisions for them!

Let us be sure we never go into a bar where they are present. Why, some of them WORK WITH THEIR HANDS! They must be illiterate and incapable of forming a thought or having a conversation that might interest me. They are simply not smart enough to be worth associating with.

I have to tell you, if that is not what you meant, it is damned sure what it sounded like you meant.
6.12.2009 3:17pm
whit:

"There are four bars, populated by townies (cheap drinks, though, the one silver lining). It's little wonder that everyone turns to binge drinking and Greek life just to have something to do."

Ah, Townies. Those lowlifes. Let us make sure we practice segregation from them. They are unworthy to be graced with out presence. We must watch out for them! They are incapable of making decisions for themselves and we must make their decisions for them!

Let us be sure we never go into a bar where they are present. Why, some of them WORK WITH THEIR HANDS!


they are just a bunch of CUTTERS!

(see: Breaking Away. a movie classic. sadly unheralded)
6.12.2009 4:13pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
A great courageous defense of contract rights! Let's hear it for the intended third party beneficiary theory! Very noteworthy indeed.
6.12.2009 11:08pm
'Ray Bucknell:
Gerry Commerford has been the Bucknell Administration's Jerk-in-Chief for over a quarter century now. I daresay that I'm totally unsurprised to see him playing a central role in the latest administration crack down on student expression. It's a job he does particularly well...

The Board of Trustees really needs to either retire or fire the guy.
6.13.2009 3:13pm

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