Monday, July 07, 2003
Conservative white male = racist? Talk about stereotypes. (I would argue that liberal white males are more likely to be racist in the way they treat minorities as barely competent children who somehow need a helping hand from the more privilged.) But the comment that prompts this post has to do with my alma mater, Cal Poly SLO.
It seems that earlier this year, a member of the Cal Poly College Republicans, Steve Hinkle, went to the school's multicultural center to post a flier advertising a talk by black conservative Mason Weaver. Some students gathered there, reportedly for a Bible study (the New York Times would likely describe them as "mainline" Christians, aka "liberal"), were offended by the flier and called the campus cops.
Because it's not yet against the law to post an innocuous flier at a public university, the administration and the students tried another tack -- they accused him of "disrupting" their meeting. Now Hinkle is facing possible expulsion from Cal Poly because, standing on principle, refuses to apologize to the "offended" students for legally posting a flier on a public bulletin board.
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Vice President for Student Affairs Cornel Morton told Hinkle during a disciplinary hearing (at which he was not allowed to have a lawyer, only his faculty advisor): “You are a young white male member of CPCR. To students of color, this may be a collision of experience.… The chemistry has racial implications, and you are naïve not to acknowledge those.”
So, according to Morton, the mere existence of white conservatives is somehow enough to offend "students of color" at Cal Poly. In the future, apparently, the CPCR should find a black moderate maybe and they could post a flier in the sacred muliticultural center.
On April 15, 2003, Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy, wrote to Cal Poly President Warren J. Baker, urging him to defend Steve Hinkle’s fundamental constitutional rights. Lukianoff demonstrated the absurdity of a “disruption” charge against someone who was silently posting, on a public bulletin board, a flier for an approved campus event. Moreover, Lukianoff wrote, the “disrupted” students were “not a recognized student group and the ‘meeting’ was therefore not a ‘campus function.’ Ironically, Mr. Hinkle was actually posting fliers for an event that was sponsored by a recognized student group and by the student government, and it is he who has the far better claim to ‘campus function’ status.”
Lukianoff continued: “All accounts agree that Mr. Hinkle, who only wanted to post a flier, was then approached by the students—not the other way around.” Hinkle’s accusers, he noted, “themselves initiated what they later claimed was his ‘disruption’….If they had allowed Mr. Hinkle to go about his constitutionally protected activity, there would have been no ‘disruption’ at all. All of this leads FIRE to draw the obvious conclusion: Mr. Hinkle and the CPCR are being punished for the content of their expression.”
On May 9, 2003, Cal Poly’s legal counsel, Carlos Cordova, responded to FIRE’s letter. Cordova denied any wrongdoing and did not substantively address any of FIRE’s specific concerns. Today, Steve Hinkle remains punished for trying to post a factual, simple, and constitutionally protected flier.
It looks like there's going to be a lawsuit, and I'm hoping that the muckety-mucks have enough sense to cave before they have to pay extensive legal bills to Hinkle. The scorn that Cal Poly has already received (I became aware of the controversy from Fox News Sunday) for this politically correct stupidity will hurt the institution's prestige.
I'll be working up a letter to Morton in the coming days, needless to say, Cal Poly will not be receiving any donations from me while Hinkle faces punishment.
Hopefully the Mustang Daily will get on the ball and start publicizing this case, a search of their archives suggests that they thus far have not.
Oh, if you'd like to voice your opinion of his racist comment, Morton's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.