Professor Who Erased Pro-Life Messages to Pay Fine, Receive Training

“Like all government officials, professors have an obligation to respect the constitutionally protected free speech of students."

"Women need love, not abortion." That was one of the pro-life messages Fresno State University students Bernadette Tasy and Jesus Herrera wrote in chalk around campus in May. Greg Thatcher, professor of public health, scrubbed out the messages with his shoe and told other students to do the same, saying that “college campuses are not free speech areas," and that, as such, these messages should only be allowed in a designated "free speech area."

Two students sued Thatcher, and the school said that “our entire campus is open and supports freedom of expression.” A court order last week prevents the professor from  “interfering with, disrupting, defacing, or altering” any student activities like he did these pro-life messages. 

That's not all, though. Tasy and Herrera will receive $1,000 each and a further $15,000 will be paid to Alliance Defending Freedom, a group focusing on religious freedom which defended the students in court. Thatcher also must undergo two hours of First Amendment training by that organization. 

“No public university professor has the authority to silence any student speech he happens to find objectionable or to recruit other students to participate in his censorship,” ADF attorney Travis Barham said in a statement Thursday. “Like all government officials, professors have an obligation to respect the constitutionally protected free speech of students.

“Of all people, professors should be the first to encourage all students to participate in the marketplace of ideas rather than erase the speech of those with whom they differ. The professor’s actions here were wrong and flagrantly violated the First Amendment.”

It's nice to see a conservative voice winning the battle for free speech on campus, but I'm getting pretty tired of this being a battle that needs to be fought. Wouldn't it be something if equal application of the First Amendment were the default position? 

Issues