Stand with Crystal Dixon!

 

Crystal Dixon
Victim of the Thought Police

 

If the account is accurate, and unless I’m missing something here, this seems to me a clear case of un-American tyranny.  I happen to be broadly sympathetic to her substantive position on the particular matter in question, but that’s not, I think, particularly important.  A public institution, it seems to me, ought to have to surmount a very, very high bar before it punishes an employee for expressing an opinion — and that seems particularly obvious when the opinion in question is one that is almost certainly shared by a very large plurality, and indeed perhaps by a clear majority, of the citizenry (who, after all, support that institution with their taxes).

 

This is the kind of thing that could get me out into the street for a demonstration, or even onto the barricades.  It seems to me of the same magnitude as the grievances that provoked America’s rebellion against King George III.

 

Again, unless I’m missing something very big, the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Crystal Dixon’s case seems manifestly wrong, unjust, overreaching, and tyrannical.

 

 

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  • Sam Smith

    That’s a lot of “if’s” to publish to the world.
    Rather than rely on that bastion of unbiased journalism, World News Daily, it might be best to start here:
    The Complaint
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/8614699/Dixon-v-UnivToledo-Complaint-12-08

    The trial court decision
    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/granule/USCOURTS-ohnd-3_08-cv-02806/USCOURTS-ohnd-3_08-cv-02806-1/content-detail.html click on formats PDF

    The appeals court decision
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7607225546763145450&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr

    The appeals court precident that it was bound to follow
    http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=20021208291F3d917_11110.xml&docbase=CSLWAR2-1986-2006

    The issue was “was Dixon a policy making government employee.” If so, she could not contradict her boss in public on his policy decision. Just because the govenment is the employer, doesn’t mean a high level employee can say whatever she wants. She has to support her boss’s policy decisions. If you were to contradict your boss, you might get fired too. Both courts found that Dixon was a policy making employee and had to go along in public with what her boss had decided.

    The free speech rights of government employees are a difficult area. It might be a case the US Supreme Court would look at with an eye to whether the precident used in this case is correct.

    • danpeterson

      Your response is incoherent.

      You note that I use several “ifs,” then insinuate nonetheless that I’ve “relied” uncritically on an unreliable source, then say that I should have consulted other sources which would clarify the issues in such a way as to nullify my concerns, then admit that the free speech rights of government employees are a difficult area and that maybe the Supreme Court does need to look at this case.

      Which rather weakens your implication that I should have no concerns.

      • Sam Smith

        You can have all of the concerns you want as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I’m concerned too. The Circuit’s controlling precedent seems very narrow to me. The links are there for anyone who is interested in primary sources.

        As to incoherence: if you are a high level employee, you need to present a united front in public with your boss, whether you work for the government or not. Otherwise, you might get fired.

        • danpeterson

          Universities are meant to be places for free discussion. There are some limits, of course. I don’t favor hiring Holocaust-deniers to teach European history, for example.

          But issues relating to homosexuality are still very much debated in American society, and it’s not at all obvious to me that public, tax-supported universities have a right to “settle” them by fiat and, thereafter, effectively to bar those who hold the disfavored view from opportunities for full employment and advancement.

      • http://www.sethpayne.com Seth Payne

        Dan,

        Putting aside the specifics of this case. If a section chief of the CIA publicly contradicted the stated position/policy of the Director, should he or she keep their job?

        Seth

        • danpeterson

          No. But the CIA is more like the military, or, in a sense, more like a diplomatic corps.

          The specifics in this case are essential, and can’t be “put aside.”

          Universities are not military units. Tax-supported public universities don’t have the right to choose an orthodoxy on disputed questions of values and policy and, afterwards, to punish employees who fail to kneel and do obeisance.

          • http://www.sethpayne.com Seth Payne

            I’m not convinced the details are all that relevant.

            The University set a policy.

            Dixon was a VP at the University and in a position to influence and execute on policy.

            Dixon wrote a public letter expressing strong disagreement with the University policy.

            The University, therefore, had concerns about her willingness to implement policies that had already been set.

            Therefore, she was let go. Not because she is religious and opposes homosexuality but rather, because she, as an administrator, publicly contradicted stated University policy.

            I think had she been a professor and not in a position to set or execute on University policy, the case may be different. But I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer. What I’ve stated here is based off of a cursory reading of the decision. I’m ready to be corrected in my thinking.

          • danpeterson

            This makes me really, really, really nervous.

            My preference is to err on the side of freedom, not on that of government-imposed orthodoxy.

          • http://www.sethpayne.com Seth Payne

            Dan, I share your concerns about freedom and liberty 100%. There are things that both the Obama and Bush Administrations put in place that infuriate me because of how these specific policies trample on the Constitution.

            I just don’t think this is one of those cases. When you are employed you cede some of your personal liberty. I’ve signed non-disclosure and non-compete agreements, for example. I gave up some freedom for the opportunity to work at certain jobs. Even off the clock I “represent” my employer. I understand the distinction between private vs. public sector jobs but the public sector can’t be complete chaos.

            I have an acquaintance that works in DC as part of the Federal bureaucratic complex. S/he has told me how strict the policies are — at least in her department — on expressing opinions on the policies workers are being paid to enforce. S/he pretty much can’t say anything — one way or another — on many policy issues. Even as a private citizen. Why? I’ll let Max Weber answer that one….

            Seth

          • danpeterson

            In this case, in particular, I’m concerned that a state institution has effectively made taking a particular stance on a very disputed matter of public discussion — one that. arguably, a majority of the public (that is, of the taxpayers) reject — a requirement for employment.

          • danpeterson

            That’s for legislators (and perhaps judges) to work out. But they should err on the side of liberty, rather than on the side of state control.

          • anan

            I reviewed your resume, I dont see where you worked for the CIA or any other govt intelligence agency. How is the CIA like the military? or “diplomatic corps”? Have you ever worked for the govt? Please share your experience with US intelligence agencies. I am actually quite curious.

          • danpeterson

            An irrelevant rabbit trail.

          • danpeterson

            anan’s demonstrations of his or her capacity for insult and unwillingness to disagree civilly and respectfully have now become redundant — and I’ve begun to send them to the trash.

            I don’t do that very often. But then, most of those, even, who’ve disagreed with me here have managed to do so more or less civilly. anan, alas, is apparently unwilling to rise to that level.

  • http://www.sethpayne.com Seth Payne

    Hi Dan,

    I assume you see this action as being different from BYU dismissing Jeff Nielsen who wrote this:

    http://www.sltrib.com/search/ci_3896635

    Is it because U of Toledo is a public school?

    Seth

    • danpeterson

      Yes, and yes.

  • anan

    Maybe you should stick with your area of expertise and avoid sharing your opinions about issues that require the ability to interpret the law…just a thought.

    • danpeterson

      Perhaps you should.

      I believe that, in America, citizens still have a right to have concerns about legal issues even if they haven’t gone to law school. Or are we so far down the road that only attorneys are allowed, now, to express opinions about matters relating to law and governance?

      I’m not inclined to believe that such matters as this one are so technical that ordinary people such as I must defer, in absolute silence, to the priesthood of the bar.

      • anan

        Hey, I completely support your right to make a fool of yourself online….in fact, I encourage you to continue to publicize your ignorance with the several dozen people that read your posts. American “citizens” can have concerns about whatever issues they want (we all do). Not all of us are actually dim enough to share our knee-jerk, uninformed opinions on a public forum – you are breaking the mold! You are right, we shouldnt actually defer to people who have actually spent time studying certain subjects to help us understand issues involving those subjects. What is your degree in?

        • danpeterson

          I’m generally happy, as in anan’s case, to allow certain of my critics to publicly display their charming personalities, their civility and charity. I could easily dump their posts into the trash, but, cruelly and selfishly, I prefer not to do so.

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  • Kent G. Budge

    Dan,
    I agree with you that free speech ought to be broad enough to protect an administrator at a state college expressing her views on a controversial moral issue.
    However, Sam does have this much of a point: World Net Daily is not a terribly reliable source. I looked to see if FIRE had anything on the case, and they do not. If FIRE has not gotten involved, I’m left wondering if there is more to the story than WND is reporting.

    • danpeterson

      I don’t read WND, and know nothing about it. I simply saw a reference to this case, with a link, and the link took me to WND.

      I don’t see the issue as one involving the technical minutiae of this or that legal code. I see it as one of natural and constitutional rights. And, for some of the others here, I don’t need a law degree in order to have an opinion on such things.

  • Sam Smith

    danpeterson posted “But they should err on the side of liberty, rather than on the side of state control.”

    But alas, the case they had to follow told them to error on the side of the government employer.

    • danpeterson

      Not my concern.

      My concern is the overall rightness or wrongness of the case, not who gets the blame.

      • Sam Smith

        How to create a just world is everyones concern.

        • danpeterson

          Which has precisely nothing to do with my comment.

          • Sam Smith

            But a place where I think we should all come from.

  • John

    Mr. Peterson, you are missing something very big. That very big thing is that employee of a government institution have limited free speech as a private citizen, and depending on the position of the public employee the speech is slightly more limited. Public employee free speech is limited for the efficient working of Government, yes, I know it is somewhat oxymoron but that is what it is.
    Crystal Dixon, lost her case inpart because her attorneys failed her. Her attorneys did not give due diligence to her claims. A cursory search on “equal protection” claims would put someone on notice as to the standard for demonstrating “similarly situated”.

    Dan, you should also know, at no time did Crystal Dixon present to the either a lower Court or the 6th Circuit that she was claiming religious persecution or that she was making some sort of religious exercise argument. Ms. Dixon’s, attorney, used the term “christian” in the briefs, but never made the a statement as to Ms. Dixon religious rights being trampled.

    • danpeterson

      Please notice that I said essentially nothing about religion.

    • danpeterson

      I understand full well that diplomats must represent the government’s line, etc. But universities are to be places of relative free speech, and state universities, in particular, seem to me under an obligation to be very careful about ensuring that the holding of a specific position on a widely disputed policy issue never becomes a prerequisite for employment.

      Again, the error should clearly be made, if one is going to be made, in the direction of liberty.

  • John

    Dan, additionally, something very big you missed was to rely on wnd to provide an unbiased forthright accurate presentation of the case.

    • danpeterson

      I’m not sure that there’s any material inaccuracy in the wnd piece that would alleviate my concerns if corrected.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com TT

    Hello Dan,
    For purposes of clarification, are you saying that you are sympathetic to Reese’s claim that gay people should not have legal protections that prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, or Reese’s claim that homosexuality is a choice as evidenced by ex-gay ministries? And you believe that one or both of these views is held by as much as a majority of Americans?

    • danpeterson

      My point of view on those issues is irrelevant to the matter that concerns me, and I have no desire to go down that irrelevant path.

      • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com TT

        That is perfectly fine, but you did say “I happen to be broadly sympathetic to her substantive position on the particular matter in question,” and “the opinion in question is one that is almost certainly shared by a very large plurality, and indeed perhaps by a clear majority, of the citizenry.” I was trying to get clarification on what you meant by the “substantive position” and “the opinion in question” in voicing your support of her comments.

        • danpeterson

          She doesn’t favor gay marriage. I don’t either. Many Americans don’t.

          • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com TT

            Okay, but that is not the particular view for which she was fired, right?

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com TT

    edit: Dixon, not Reese!

  • Grundelwalken

    Dr. Peterson,
    While some seem to be concerned with the protection of their own political agenda, I feel much as you do in the trampling of the right to free speech. No matter my employment, my right to free speech should not be infringed because of a position taken by my employer. That is, as long as I do not drag my employer into the fray of my comments. If Dixon was stating an opinion of her own and did not include any reference to her employer/employment, it seems to me she should have that right. I suppose there may be some “legal” limit to how much she can say, but in matters of personal belief or opinion, she, and all who live under our constitution, should have the privilege to speak our minds.

    Sadly, it appears that more of this will occur in the future and we will see the rights of the first, second and other amendments begin to slip away. Maybe this is one of the blessings of getting old — we won’t have to live under the system that will result from the loss of these freedoms.

    Thanks for sharing this message and don’t let the haters slow you down. MW

    • danpeterson

      Thank you.

    • Sam Smith

      Grundelwalken posted:

      “That is, as long as I do not drag my employer into the fray of my comments. If Dixon was stating an opinion of her own and did not include any reference to her employer/employment, it seems to me she should have that right. I suppose there may be some “legal” limit to how much she can say, but in matters of personal belief or opinion, she, and all who live under our constitution, should have the privilege to speak our minds.

      Sadly, it appears that more of this will occur in the future and we will see the rights of the first, second and other amendments begin to slip away. Maybe this is one of the blessings of getting old — we won’t have to live under the system that will result from the loss of these freedoms.”

      Which is why we should work to have the Rose precedent overturned in the 6th Circuit. Just talking about it isn’t enough. I don’t think just hoping we will die soon is the best approach either.

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