I have previously written, as a long supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), about my concern over how the venerable group has changed under its current leadership, including a departure from its long robust defense of free speech.
Recently, the ACLU has abandoned its famed neutrality and has not supported some on the right while supporting those on the left.
Now, the ACLU’s Samuel Crankshaw in Kentucky has targeted Transylvania University for admitting Nick Sandmann, who was falsely accused of abusing a Native American activist in front of Lincoln Memorial. Despite various media organizations correcting the story and some settling with Sandmann, some in the media have continued to attack him. Yet, it is far more alarming to see an ACLU official rallying people against a young man whose chief offense appears to be that he is conservative and unapologetic.
Crankshaw went to Facebook to alert people that Sandmann would be attending the college and expressing veiled outrage that the school would admit someone with his opposing views.
He warns that this kid is “more dangerous” than figures like Milo Yiannopolous.
The “danger” is that a young freshman holds conservative views that are shared by roughly half of this country:
Does anyone else think it’s a bit of a stain on Transylvania University for accepting Nick Sandman? I’m sure it’s a “both sides” defense, but it’s pretty counter to their mission and another instance of there not actually being equal sides to an issue. I think TU should accept anyone willing to have an open mind and engage in debate, regardless of their views. That’s how we all learn. That’s Transy’s mission…
Having experienced the incredibly high standards Transy requires for admission and then holds its students to, this seems like a slap in the face. I hope some time in a real classroom changes him, but his twitter and public persona suggest otherwise.
The “both sides” defense used to be the position of the ACLU in fighting for all sides to be given equal opportunities and protections. Moreover Crankshaw labels Sandmann a “provocateur in training with no intention of learning.” Putting aside the provocateur label how would Crankshaw know that Sandmann has “no intention of learning”?
One person responding was Dr. Avery Tompkins, who works as Assistant Professor and Diversity Scholar at Transylvania University, acknowledged that the university supported diverse viewpoints but promised to closely monitor Sandmann while he is on campus:
“If he were to cause problems by being disruptive, trolling, or engaging in unethical behavior of any kind, I would immediately document it (just like I would for any student doing the same thing)…and he would just be putting himself in a position for me to file a conduct report.”
Doing the same thing? What thing? Free speech?
Rather than say that there is no reason why this conservative student should be singled out in this way, Tompkins declares publicly “I get where you are coming from.” Where would that be? It sounds like Crankshaw was coming from a place where a wrongly accused conservative teenager will be harassed or targeted for daring to take his views to a college.
Crankshaw was describing the exercise of free speech by someone with opposing views as unacceptable. Tompkins responds that she will be closely watching him. Both single out this one students for such added scrutiny and Cranksaw thanks her for her assurance of close monitoring.
Sandmann like all college students should feel greater freedom in expressing their views at colleges, not being closely monitored as someone with dangerous thoughts and ideas. That fact that figures in the ACLU and academia would publicly espouse such views of intolerance is a chilling example of how our faith in free speech has eroded in the recent years.