Destruction is not free speech

Indeed it is not.

The vandalism that NKU Professor Sally Jacobsen aided and abetted nicely encapsulates the philosophically bankrupt isolation of most American campuses, and despite The Cinncinnati Enquirer‘s optimism, her ignorance is incurable because it would necessarily be feigned. Willful ignorance is something more serious than simply never having been exposed to fundamental ideas about liberty.

Jacobsen, we must presume, is highly educated. Ignorance does not enter into it. She deliberately and flagrantly placed her personal feeling above the rights of others to speak. She is a totalitarian, not an ignoramus. Instead of “she has much to learn”, say rather that she has much to forget – the majority of which is gender feminist indoctrination – a mind-crippling crime she has also committed: against her own students.

When speech rights are denied, what matter any others? They will surely be destroyed in their turn. Without speech rights we would never have seen the principle expressed in Roe v. Wade – Jacobsen’s apparent mantra.

She believes that she has rights and that others do not; if such rights offend her feelings. It would be snide to point out that an abortion on demand argument requires such a belief, so I will point it out.

Northern Kentucky University professor Sally Jacobsen overstepped her own rights and arrogantly stomped on the First Amendment rights of others when she invited students in her class to demolish an approved anti-abortion display on campus.

As a teacher she has much to learn.

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?

Yes. Yes. Yes. And, yes. She has said so: “Any violence perpetrated against that silly display was minor compared to how I felt when I saw it.” These are all “silly displays” relative to Jacobsen’s utter arrogance.

The display of 400 crosses represented a cemetery of aborted fetuses. Jacobsen said it was dismantled by nine of her graduate students, and she acknowledged inviting them to destroy it. She would neither confirm nor deny that she took part in the activity.

I can understand the desire to distance herself from the crime, but since there are photographs of her participation, we can be confidence that she is a cowardly hypocrite. “I invited my students to destroy the crosses, but I do not share the courage of their convictions.”

A principled professor would say: “It doesn’t matter whether I did or did not. I accept full responsibility for the actions I encouraged my mind-numbed robots students to take.”

Destroying such a display is a foolhardy and incendiary act for anyone, but even more so for a tenured professor at a university. Intellectual freedom of thought and expression is not only the foundation of our democratic society, but a cornerstone of institutions of higher learning as well.

Ms. Jacobsen cares not one whit for intellectual freedom of thought or she’d have been teaching it.

It is unthinkable that, rather than using a provocative and controversial display as a tool for debate and discussion, Jacobsen’s instinct was to destroy the “provocation” and stifle free expression.

Unfortunately, it is entirely thinkable. Have you seen The Ohio State University’s Star Chamber vs. Scott Savage?

But even beyond unprofessional behavior, demolishing the display appears to be a criminal act. Anyone convicted of taking part in it or abetting it should be prosecuted.

The students could plead ignorance, and any professor worth a pinch would stand up and take all responsibility.

This was not a protest in support of enlightened thinking. This was a threat to it.

In the end, the display, erected by a student Right to Life group with official permission, will be a silent reminder of more than one right and more than one cause. As such it serves as a particularly powerful – if embarrassing – teaching opportunity.

We hope NKU officials will take firm action on this issue.

They must question a faculty member’s dedication to free thought and intellectual discourse if she destroys, rather than wisely employs, controversial displays as learning opportunities for NKU students.

And, clearly, they must intercede in the strongest way if a professor illegally obstructs students’ First Amendment rights and encourages her students to join her in the endeavor.

If Jacobsen helped destroy the display, she deserves to face criminal charges.

For her crass disregard for free speech and self-righteous disdain for opinions she opposes, she deserves to lose her position on the NKU staff.

Her ignorance is correctable. Her arrogance deserves a harsher fate.

Her arrogance deserves the fate the Enquirer suggests. As I’ve pointed out, her ignorance is not correctable. I know of no Orwell inspired intervention groups.

Update 9:13PM, the whole thing is at Protein Wisdom, but here’s an excerpt:

I applaud the actions taken by the University to this point. But I think it would be extra special swell if, before she “retires,” Professor Jacobsen—along with her entire band of “free-speech” vandals—would be forced, in lieu of criminal prosecution, to attend a series of cultural sensitivity seminars.

Those are big on campus these days, from what I understand.