Follow Up on Northern Kentucky University Story

Follow Up on Northern Kentucky University Story April 14, 2006

Thanks to Nick Matzke for finding this story about the situation at Northern Kentucky University, where an English professor led a group of students in destroying a perfectly legal anti-abortion display on the campus there. The story includes a picture of the professor tearing apart the display’s main sign and shows all the crosses broken apart on the ground. The police say they’re investigating it as felony theft and vandalism and I think they’re absolutely right. It doesn’t matter how offensive they found the display and it doesn’t matter that the teacher felt “violated” by it. They had no legal right to destroy it and they did over $600 worth of damage to someone else’s property and that is against the law. And the school’s president, Jim Votruba, really understands what free speech means:

“I am very disappointed that this happened,” Votruba said. “At a university, the opposing views should be able to bump up against each other. Responding with pamphlets or speeches would have allowed the power of ideas to compete.”

Precisely. The answer to free speech that angers you or offends you is to exercise your own free speech to counter it. If instead you engage in theft and vandalism, you’re a felon and an autocrat. And if you do that while claiming to be exercising your free speech, then you’re an imbecile and a hypocrite as well.

I should also note that a group of pro-choice educators condemned the act:

In a letter to The Northerner, signed by Nancy Slonneger Hancock, a member of The Educators for Reproductive Freedom, Hancock said that the group “neither knew about nor participated in this act of vandalism, and we most certainly do not condone it.” Hancock said that the group sees the cross display as “protected free speech, no matter how strongly we may disagree with the message. It is of the utmost importance that we all respect each others’ free speech rights.”

The more people realize that the rights of others don’t end whenever they say something that bothers you, the safer our liberty will be.

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