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Public College Prohibiting Distribution of "Students for Concealed Carry on Campus" Pamphlets?

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports that this indeed happened, at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania. At this point, the factual allegations are just the student's, with no confirmation by the school (the school was asked for its side of the matter on April 29, and wrote on May 13 that "a response will be forthcoming in a reasonable time frame," but hasn't said anything further). Still, I have found FIRE's past factual assertions to be quite reliable; and if the student's accusations are accurate, this seems like a serious First Amendment problem. Check out FIRE's summary, and the linked documents, and see for yourself.

I should note that the college apparently defended itself on the grounds that students couldn't use the name of the college without the college's permission. But according to FIRE, the name was used in a way that made clear that it was just identifying the location of a student group; I see no constitutional basis for the college to prohibit the use of a name in this context (though I suppose that it might, in an excess of caution, require that use of the name be accompanied with an express note that the college name is used only for identification purposes, and not as a sign of endorsement).

I should also note that the college reportedly asserted that its policy is to require preapproval of student publications; to the extent that such a policy is permitted on college property, it has to be nondiscretionary and viewpoint-neutral, and according to the student's account the college claimed that it would not approve publications that express this viewpoint. And the only policy that FIRE could find that supposedly covered this behavior (which the college reportedly labeled as "soliciation") was this one, which is pretty clearly unconstitutional:

Solicitation: The distribution or display of, and the personal contact with individuals or groups related to non-sponsored college material or events, without prior written approval of the college are prohibited. These actions are limited to public property; however, public property in this context does not include college property.

I hope to hear more about this case in the future, and especially to hear the college's side of the story.

Disclosure: I will be a keynote speaker at FIRE's 10th Anniversary event this October.

Kurt Mueller (mail):
FIRE does outstanding work.

It is somehow still surprising to me that colleges and universities can sometimes be so intolerant of speech &debate when they disagree with one of the view points. First Amendment law is so well established, somehow I continuously hope that an organization like FIRE would be an anachronism because colleges and universities would never resort to oppressing unpopular opinions.

But somehow, this never seems to come to pass ...
5.27.2009 1:13pm
TalkingHead:
Does anyone know whether FIRE's work is limited only to violations of the First Amendment, or does it also extend to censorship at academic institutions generally? That is, does it limit itself to state action?
5.27.2009 1:18pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
TalkingHead: Going to FIRE's Web site will, I think, give you a pretty clear answer to those questions.
5.27.2009 1:19pm
Trassin (www):
The FIRE article has the president's office number. I just called it and got the office administrator. Took down my question about when the school would be responding, my name, and my number.

I highly recommend that people call and leave POLITE requests for a response from the school for FIRE's letter that they sent.
5.27.2009 1:22pm
Tim McDonald 44 (mail):
As Glenn Reynolds said, the timing (two weeks to acknowledge the issue existed, 2 more weeks without a substantive response) do not speak well of the administrations confidence in their opinion.
5.27.2009 1:32pm
AST (mail):
You just know these administrators were part of the campus Free Speech movement during the 1960s and 1970s.
5.27.2009 1:33pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Kurt Mueller:

It is somehow still surprising to me that colleges and universities can sometimes be so intolerant of speech &debate when they disagree with one of the view points.

Why? One of the oldest beliefs in the world is that once you've got Truth, freedom can only lead to error.

I'm not so sold on FIRE as you are: some of the cases they've negotiated settlements for have involved federal crimes by school administrators. Putting one or two of those administrators in jail, or even making a credible try at doing so, would go a long way towards making the rest more careful of their students' rights. As it is, FIRE spends a lot of time going back over old ground.
5.27.2009 1:42pm
A Law Unto Himself (mail):
You just know these administrators were part of the campus Free Speech movement during the 1960s and 1970s.


Freedom for me but not for thee...
5.27.2009 1:44pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
examing the original documents, one finds that the woman who distributed the pamphlets is kinda nuts (she makes a huge deal out of a dean addressing her by her nickname (Christa)which "only her friends use", but "Christa" is the name she uses on the pamphlet itself... this sense of "victimization" on her behalf raises serious questions about her credibility. If she doesn't want to be called "Christa" by people who aren't "her friends", why does she identify herself as "Christa" on the literature?!?!?

Indeed, the entire basis of the issue seems to be that the school forbids "solicitation" -- Christa is trying to claim that the school doesn't want her soliciting students to join her group so that it can be recognized, but the pamphlet itself is primarily focussed on having students join the national organization.... and a simple glance at the pamphlet strongly suggests a solicitation for funds for membership in that national organization (while noting that its free to sign up for the campus group, there is also a place where you are supposed to enter an amount of money.. given that the primary focus is on the national organization, this does constitute a "solicitation" for cash.

There is simply no evidence that the school in any way intended to interfere with her free speech rights (or her right to try and form a "campus group") -- rather, it was Christa's use of literature designed to raise funds for a national organization that was the problem. (The school apparently merely told her that those pamphlets could not be used.)

In other words, FIRE (as is its wont) appears to be jumping the gun (no pun intended) per usual. Unlike the ACLU, FIRE concentrates almost exclusively on "defending" right-wing speech -- and does so with little credibility.
5.27.2009 2:05pm
CDU (mail) (www):
<blockquote>Unlike the ACLU, FIRE concentrates almost exclusively on "defending" right-wing speech -- and does so with little credibility.</blockquote>

From FIRE's front page: "Victory for Freedom of Speech at University of Colorado at Boulder: University Lifts Financial Burden on Students Hosting Controversial Speakers Ward Churchill and William Ayers"

Obviously, FIRE is obviously a right wing organization.
5.27.2009 2:17pm
Ken Arromdee:
one finds that the woman who distributed the pamphlets is kinda nuts

There is a good reason why we don't have "freedom of speech, except for nuts".


Unlike the ACLU, FIRE concentrates almost exclusively on "defending" right-wing speech


Fire's own web site a number of case of defending left-wing speech, including this:


The University of Colorado at Boulder has reversed a threat to charge excessively high security fees for a controversial event that included speeches by Ward Churchill and William Ayers. After the university threatened to bill the organizers more than $2,000 for security, the organizers of the event came to FIRE for help.
5.27.2009 2:17pm
Ken Arromdee:
Please add "has" and "s". I wish I could edit the post...
5.27.2009 2:19pm
Kevin P. (mail):
I read the pamphlet and I disagree that its primary focus is on raising funds. More than half the pamphlet is arguments on behalf of concealed carry.

Most universities and colleges are hostile to gun rights and gun owners and I can see how they would freak out over something like this.
5.27.2009 2:20pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Paul Lukasiak: I don't think your solicitation analysis is sound, as a look at the pamphlet will reveal. Nor is there any evidence of an actual neutral policy that would indeed ban all political speech that invites people to join groups that might ask for membership fees.

But can I ask you about your statement that "Unlike the ACLU, FIRE concentrates almost exclusively on 'defending' right-wing speech"? Do you have some actual evidence about the proportion of FIRE's actions that defend non-right-wing speech, and the proportion of the ACLU's actions that defend non-left-wing speech? My sense is that the proportions for both are pretty substantial. Do you have evidence to the contrary? Check out, for instance, this item from the FIRE site from April 20 ("Victory for Freedom of Speech at University of Colorado at Boulder: University Lifts Financial Burden on Students Hosting Controversial Speakers Ward Churchill and William Ayers").
5.27.2009 2:24pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
In other words, FIRE (as is its wont) appears to be jumping the gun (no pun intended) per usual

Really?

Can you provide 3 examples of this ever happening, then?

(she makes a huge deal out of a dean addressing her by her nickname (Christa)which

No, she merely mentions it.

I guess people of a certain political persuasion have to tell themselves certain things in order to get through the day.
5.27.2009 2:28pm
More Importantly . . .:

one finds that the woman who distributed the pamphlets is kinda nuts (she makes a huge deal out of a dean addressing her by her nickname)


One line, clearly added for color, in a multi-paragraph chronology of the meeting, and you describe it as "mak[ing] a huge deal" out of the issue? Someone has a bit of an agenda.


There is simply no evidence that the school in any way intended to interfere with her free speech rights (or her right to try and form a "campus group")


Let's see about that; looking at the letter, we see the following statements attributed to the school administrators:

When asked why I was distributing these pamphlets I answered that I simply wanted an open forum for discussion and debate on this topic (the right to carry a concealed firearm on campus) to which Dean Burns replied "You may want to discuss this topic but the college does not, and you cannot make us."

Looks like an issue with the idea, rather than solicitation to join the national organization. But maybe there's nothing more?

You asked me if I disagreed with school policy, I said that I did; at least to the point where I wanted to be able to discuss these things freely with other students, faculty, parents, etc. In response to which I was told to stop doing so without the permission of the administration.

Dean Burns said "We have over 4,000 students, it would be a disaster to allow them to have guns, do you understand how serious this is?" and asked "Have you ever considered alternate means of self defense?" to which I replied that I had taken years of martial arts which could not protect me against an armed assailant.


Gee, guess there might have been broader issues than the school trying to control indirect solicitation, huh?

You're intellectually dishonest, paul lukasiak--may you get hit by a bus just severely enough to cause you to suffer through a long, painful, and undignified existence.
5.27.2009 2:32pm
Whadonna More:
CCAC is a handful of very small distinct campuses with a larger number of even smaller classroom centers distributed widely around Pittsburgh. It's not UCLA or even U of Tenn. with a law school full of 1A scholars sitting around looking for publicity. In fact, the taxpayers should be annoyed if they have a part-time lawyer with 1A credentials. That should excuse some delay in getting the complaint through a legal review, and might even excuse the bad policy. Give the poor school a chance to do the right thing.

On the other hand, the biggest CCAC campus, likely the one in question here, is on the North Side between the government funded football and baseball stadiums, just south of a terribly poor and violent neighborhood. It's a great place for concealed carry.
5.27.2009 2:51pm
Sage McLaughlin (mail):
Yes, Paul, and FIRE once also defended noted conservative Sami al-Arian.

Google before you speak.
5.27.2009 2:51pm
Mikee (mail):
The inane thinking of college administrators has a long and storied history. This will be yet another chapter, perhaps only a paragraph, which ends when the school administration says in its best Emily Latella imitation, "Nevermind."

The student group will be allowed to form amid rude grumblings about their policy preferences. They will get student funds after another lawsuit or threat of one. They will be politically active and maybe change a few minds about their issue of interest. Life will go on.

The administrations always cave when confronted with a lawsuit they cannot win. But there will be bitter rage that the administration cannot control the way the students think.

I agree that prosecution is desirable to encourage the rest of the herd.
5.27.2009 2:57pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Fire's own web site a number of case of defending left-wing speech, including this:
_
in this case, FIRE became involved because the same school's Campus Republican club had been charged $4800 for security for a "controversial" event the day before the "Churchill/Ayres" event.


FIRE is concerned about the threat to freedom of expression posed by the University of Colorado at Boulder's (CU-Boulder's) decision to charge student organizations prohibitively high security fees for bringing controversial speakers to campus.

This is our understanding of the facts; please inform us if you believe we are in error. According to CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard, as reported at thedenverchannel.com on March 4, 2009, CU-Boulder recently charged the campus' College Republicans, a student organization, $4,800 in security fees... We also have learned that Students for True Academic Freedom, one of the CU-Boulder student groups that sponsored a March 5, 2009, event that included controversial speakers Ward Churchill and William Ayers, is to be billed $2,203.42 for security for the event.


_
In fact, the "victory" being claimed by FIRE was probably due to the threat of a lawsuit from Ward Churchills's attorneys.
5.27.2009 2:58pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
but the pamphlet itself is primarily focussed on having students join the national organization...

This is an out &out lie.
5.27.2009 3:05pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
I don't think your solicitation analysis is sound, as a look at the pamphlet will reveal. Nor is there any evidence of an actual neutral policy that would indeed ban all political speech that invites people to join groups that might ask for membership fees.

I disagree. Based on the content of the pamphlet itself, "Christa" was acting on behalf of the national organization in "soliciting" members (including a reference to "our campus leader Christa Brashier").

The difference here is between expressing a viewpoint on a political issue, and "soliciting" membership in a national organization on a college campus. I'd be willing to bet that if the National Organization for Women wanted to do a membership drive on campus, it would have to get permission from the school administration.

And it appears to me that this is the rule that was violated -- whether Christa was "merely" trying to get people to sign up for a campus "club", or was in fact trying to solicit for members in the national organization, is ultimately irrelevant, because the literature represented Christa as acting on behalf of the national organization.

But can I ask you about your statement that "Unlike the ACLU, FIRE concentrates almost exclusively on 'defending' right-wing speech"? Do you have some actual evidence about the proportion of FIRE's actions that defend non-right-wing speech, and the proportion of the ACLU's actions that defend non-left-wing speech? My sense is that the proportions for both are pretty substantial.

FIRE's concentration is on "defense" of right wing speech on campus. The ACLU is non-ideological in its defense of free speech -- obscenity isn't ideological, nor is patent law concerning breast cancer genes, nor are restrictions on speech and assembly rights near the President.

As to actual evidence, its right there on FIRE's website. All you have to do is read what cases it involves itself in, and the pattern is clear.

Indeed, Liberty University gets a pass on its banning of "College Democrats" based on Liberty being a "private" school, but the "private" status of "liberal" Ivy League schools doesn't stop FIRE from being critical of far less significant intrusions on "free speech" (just search the site for "Ivy League".)
5.27.2009 3:21pm
Some are more private than others:

Indeed, Liberty University gets a pass on its banning of "College Democrats" based on Liberty being a "private" school, but the "private" status of "liberal" Ivy League schools doesn't stop FIRE from being critical of far less significant intrusions on "free speech" (just search the site for "Ivy League".)



The difference being that Liberty is entirely privately funded--no state or federal funding accepted--and the Ivy League is not--all of those schools accept state and federal money, as well as the added burdens that come with being state actors.

Care to try again?
5.27.2009 3:23pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
This is an out &out lie.

sorry, but just count the number of times the words "Students for Concealed Carry on Campus", or its abbreviation "SCCC", occur (dozens), and compare it to the number of times that the words "Community College of Allegheny County" or its abbreviation occur (twice), and its pretty obvious what this pamphlet is all about.
5.27.2009 3:29pm
CDU (mail) (www):
As to actual evidence, its right there on FIRE's website. All you have to do is read what cases it involves itself in, and the pattern is clear.


Going and looking at their website I see cases with involving liberal speech, cases involving conservative speech and cases where the speech in question is neither conservative nor liberal. Can you provide any actual evidence that the proportion of liberal/conservative cases FIRE is involved in is different from the actual proportion of liberal/conservative free speech cases on college campuses?
5.27.2009 3:30pm
CDU (mail) (www):

sorry, but just count the number of times the words "Students for Concealed Carry on Campus", or its abbreviation "SCCC", occur (dozens), and compare it to the number of times that the words "Community College of Allegheny County" or its abbreviation occur (twice), and its pretty obvious what this pamphlet is all about.

I'm pretty sure students know the name of their own college, does the pamphlet really need to tell them over and over again?
5.27.2009 3:35pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
The difference being that Liberty is entirely privately funded--no state or federal funding accepted
_
you mean besides Federal education grants, loans, internships and other forms of financial aid, without which Liberty could not survive?
5.27.2009 3:35pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
The ACLU is non-ideological in its defense of free speech --

Hysterical.

Thank you for demonstrating your comments are not to be taken seriously.
5.27.2009 3:36pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
As to actual evidence, its right there on FIRE's website. All you have to do is read what cases it involves itself in, and the pattern is clear.

Note the typical leftist dodge.

Cite "evidence" you can't substantiate, explain, or defend.

There is a reason for that, you know...
5.27.2009 3:38pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
There's another difference between Liberty University and most other private schools: it explicitly requires students and employees to adhere to certain religious principles. It is therefore free to impose content-based restrictions on student clubs for the same reason that a Catholic seminary can require students to attend Mass and can ban pro-choice activities on campus. In this respect it is different from, e.g, the Ivy League schools, which though private espouse the same secular ideals that public schools are required to uphold.
5.27.2009 3:38pm
Kepler:
Mr. Lukasiak,

Clearly, you have not looked at the sum total of what FIRE has done in its ten years. They have defended numerous "left wing" cases.

Their primary motivation is in keeping the playing field level by defending free speech for everyone. Unfortunately, on America's college campuses, it is primarily those on the right who are silenced, thus the number of FIRE's cases are going to be skewed that direction. That's not their fault; it is indicative of the sad state of affairs in academia.

You need look no further than a few weeks ago, when FIRE aimed their spotlight at the University of Oklahoma and the (alleged) efforts of the Oklahoma legislature to derail an upcoming speech by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

FIRE quite clearly supports the right of the University to invite speakers of all persuasions, left or right.

Please do get your information straight before you embarrass yourself again.
5.27.2009 3:44pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Neither the ACLU nor FIRE exhibits any significant bias in the sort of free speech that it defends. As far as I can see, any apparent bias results from the different domains in which they have focussed their work and times in which they have operated. If you really want to make a persuasive argument that one, the other, or both shows bias, you'll need to present an analysis of the cases that they have taken up as opposed to those that they were asked to take up.
5.27.2009 3:44pm
Some are more private than others:

you mean besides Federal education grants, loans, internships and other forms of financial aid, without which Liberty could not survive?


None of which Liberty receives. If students apply for and receive them on their own, the payment to Liberty by the students of such funds isn't legally sufficent to force Liberty to respect students' First Amendment rights.

Feel free to sputter on a little more, you're on a bit of a troll roll here and I can respect that.
5.27.2009 3:44pm
pintler:

The administrations always cave when confronted with a lawsuit they cannot win.


I dunno. Locally, when the internet was young (late 90's?), we had a parade of school boards try to expel or otherwise discipline students for criticizing school administrations on private web pages. The first school district lost at the state SC, but the rest kept trying. The local ACLU was collecting attorney fees from the last couple.

People seem fairly willing to gamble tax dollars on long shots.
5.27.2009 3:49pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Those wanting to show bias might also try to come up with a more refined classification of cases. Take the case of Sami Al-Arian mentioned above. Granting that he has little support from the usual run of American conservatives, he can hardly be described as leftist. The organization he is accused of supporting is the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, whose goal is the destruction of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic state. As a religious fascist movement it is right wing in simplistic traditional left vs. right terms.
5.27.2009 3:51pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
There is a pattern here;

In other words, FIRE (as is its wont) appears to be jumping the gun (no pun intended) per usual

Lie.


the pamphlet itself is primarily focussed on having students join the national organization

Lie.

she makes a huge deal out of a dean addressing her by her nickname (Christa)which

Lie.

FIRE concentrates almost exclusively on "defending" right-wing speech

Lie.

Note that you've done all of this instead of accepting the most logical &apparent explanation, that is leftists like you, and those at CCAC, will stamp at speech they don't agree with at the drop of a hat.

Oh, and you're afraid of guns.
5.27.2009 3:52pm
mcbain (mail):
I got a tax credit once, does it mean that I can no longer have political opinions?
5.27.2009 3:53pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Incidentally, Harvey Silverglate, one of the two founders of FIRE, is also a member of the board of the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union. Kind of strange if the two organizations have such opposite orientations.
5.27.2009 3:56pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
One line, clearly added for color, in a multi-paragraph chronology of the meeting, and you describe it as "mak[ing] a huge deal" out of the issue? Someone has a bit of an agenda.

if the color is "victimization red", you have a point. Christa tried to make it appear that she'd been treated disrespectfully (not only was she called "Christa", she had to wait TWENTY whole minutes!! Quelle horror!!) in a manner which raises serious questions about her credibility.

Let's see about that; looking at the letter, we see the following statements attributed to the school administrators:


When asked why I was distributing these pamphlets I answered that I simply wanted an open forum for discussion and debate on this topic (the right to carry a concealed firearm on campus) to which Dean Burns replied "You may want to discuss this topic but the college does not, and you cannot make us."



Christa is an "unreliable" narrator, and I have serious doubts that she is accurately reflecting the actual conversation. Nothing prevents Christa from discussing the issue on campus, so her answer is obviously disingenuous -- what she wanted was an officially sanctioned forum for her to present her own opinions and to force the school to respond to her opinions. Within that context, for the Dean to say something like "the college does not want to discuss this topic, and you cannot make us" makes perfect sense.


You asked me if I disagreed with school policy, I said that I did; at least to the point where I wanted to be able to discuss these things freely with other students, faculty, parents, etc. In response to which I was told to stop doing so without the permission of the administration.


again, there is no evidence that she has ever been prevented from discussing the issue. What the school did was tell her she could not distribute those particular pamphlets on campus -- and there is absolutely nothing that suggests that the school in any way tried to prevent her advocating gun-nut ideas.
5.27.2009 3:56pm
visitor (mail):
Paul Lukasiak offer a case study in how to lose an argument.

He had me just about over to his side, explaining that the student involved in this case was dubious, and that from her materials it appeared that she was really soliciting funds for a national group rather than trying to start a student club. Maybe, I start to think, this really is about a money hustle of some kind.

Then he says:

"Unlike the ACLU, FIRE concentrates almost exclusively on "defending" right-wing speech -- and does so with little credibility."

Bang. (Pun intended.) This (throwaway) statement is so completely false that within a millisecond my view has completely reversed. If Lukasiak is willing to make such a transparently false and/or ignorant statement, I now completely discount his original position; in fact, I've increased my confidence that the student here is probably being victimized and that FIRE and everyone else should immediately come to her aid.
5.27.2009 3:59pm
CDU (mail) (www):
What the school did was tell her she could not distribute those particular pamphlets on campus -- and there is absolutely nothing that suggests that the school in any way tried to prevent her advocating gun-nut ideas.


Preventing her from distributing pamphlets is an attempt to prevent her from advocating her ideas. The first amendment prohibits the government from preventing the distribution of pamphlets because they disagree with the content.
5.27.2009 4:02pm
ham_sam_01 (mail):
I would not waste my time with Paul Lukasiak, as he is a bit nutty himself, being one of the conspiracy theorist types who think GWB was AWOL from his National Guard service.

He has christened his effort the "AWOL Project."

Here is his web site:
http://www.glcq.com/default.htm
http://www.glcq.com/me.htm

"I spent four months doing research..."

I suspect getting reasoned analysis from Mr. Lukasiak would be akin from getting blood from a turnip.
5.27.2009 4:04pm
Losantiville:
Likewise many private schools have freedom of inquiry/freedom of expression statements in their student handbooks which courts have held constitute binding contracts governing student-university relations. Liberty U does not.

Perhaps FIRE has a few more right-wing "clients" because almost all universities are left-wing-dominated institutions so there is too little opportunity for right-wing oppression in the education context.

I will only observe that of the many thousands of pre-, primary, secondary, and tertiary schools in the US, better than 95% are dedicated left-wing institutions.

Secular; government-worshiping; earth-worshiping; slovenly; amoral/immoral; ahistorical; anti-rational; bereft of grammar, rhetoric, logic, geography, spelling, penmanship, maths, accuracy, standards, etc.

Sending one's children to one of them constitutes the most frequently occurring form of child abuse in our society.

But let me tell you what I really think...
5.27.2009 4:06pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Indeed, Liberty University gets a pass on its banning of "College Democrats" based on Liberty being a "private" school, but the "private" status of "liberal" Ivy League schools doesn't stop FIRE from being critical of far less significant intrusions on "free speech" (just search the site for "Ivy League".)
As FIRE explains over and over again, it holds public universities to the first amendment, and it holds private universities to whatever standard they hold forth for themselves.

Liberty does not claim to respect free speech the way Ivy League schools do, so FIRE doesn't hold Liberty to the same standards.

Your claim that FIRE is "right wing" is just your typical bluster. Please just admit you were talking out of your rear end, and move on.
5.27.2009 4:07pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):
Christa tried to make it appear that she'd been treated disrespectfully

Alternatively,
you have not the slightest bit of evidence for this silly assertion.

Christa is an "unreliable" narrator, and I have serious doubts that she is accurately reflecting the actual conversation.

Alternatively,
you are a documented liar.
5.27.2009 4:08pm
ham_sam_01 (mail):
Oh, and here is a little more:

http://www.spareink.com/archives/2006/01/paul_lukasiak.html

"If you happen to went to Penn in the late '90s and read the popular upenn.talk, you will probably find it as so perfectly fitting and as wonderfully funny as I did to discover that Paul Lukasiak has re-emerged into the world, and is claiming credit for leading Mary Mapes of CBS to the Rathergate memos. The humor isn't in the claim, which is entirely believable; it is in the appropriateness of the local campus radical, famous in this small community for a few years for driving everyone away from the causes and spaces he held so dear, has now come back and unintentionally destroyed the career of one of the great public advocates for the causes he believes in, Dan Rather. He says at Kos:

'I was rather surprised to see my name in the report, because "the Panel" made absolutely NO EFFORT to contact me at any point, despite the fact that, according to the panel, I was the person who lead 60 Minutes II to the Killian memos when I told Mapes about a rumor that someone had access to additional Bush documents---and I have spoken with Mapes on a number of occasions.'

If you don't know who he is... don't worry about it. It's just a moment of local history."
5.27.2009 4:08pm
Charles Giacometti's Evil Twin (mail):
Lukasiak is a well-known comment troll. Please don't feed him.
5.27.2009 4:09pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Preventing her from distributing pamphlets is an attempt to prevent her from advocating her ideas. The first amendment prohibits the government from preventing the distribution of pamphlets because they disagree with the content.
_
as I noted above, the pamphlet was designed to solicit membership in a national group, rather than advance a particular viewpoint. Were Christa affiliated with NOW, the same issues would be involved.

The school (probably, like most schools) has policies regarding access to its campus by outside groups regardless of whether they are commercial, social, or political in nature, and all the evidence points to Christa running afoul of that policy.

Ultimately, its FIRE's inability to differentiate between the issue of free speech, and the question of outside groups having unrestricted access to college campuses, that is the problem here.
5.27.2009 4:12pm
CDU (mail) (www):
as I noted above, the pamphlet was designed to solicit membership in a national group, rather than advance a particular viewpoint. Were Christa affiliated with NOW, the same issues would be involved.


I agree. If Christa wanted to distribute feminist literature, she has the right to do that as well and any attempt by the college to prevent her from doing so would be a violation of the first amendment.

Ultimately, its FIRE's inability to differentiate between the issue of free speech, and the question of outside groups having unrestricted access to college campuses, that is the problem here.


This isn't about "outside groups". Christa is a student at the college. She has a first amendment right to speak her views, including views on organizations like SCCC or NOW.
5.27.2009 4:16pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
As FIRE explains over and over again, it holds public universities to the first amendment, and it holds private universities to whatever standard they hold forth for themselves.

FIRE picks and chooses what it thinks schools should be doing. Ivy League Universities embrace a variety of principles (not just free speech, but diversity, and non-hostile environment for members of the academic community) that they balance based on their interpretation of "the standard they hold forth for themselves". That doesn't stop FIRE from criticizing those institutions (and constantly reiterating how "liberal" they are.)

I think that there is a valid distinction to be made between "public" and "private" colleges in terms of free speech. But the distinctions that FIRE makes between "conservative" schools (its okay for them to restrict speech based on ideology) and "liberal" schools (its not OK to restrict hate speech from right-wingers, despite the fact that those schools do embrace the idea of diversity and a non-hostile academic environment) is a matter of ideological convenience.

Keep in mind what FIRE supposedly stands for.... "Individual Rights in Education". FIRE should stand for the rights of individual students (and faculty) regardless of the nature of the educational institution. The fact that it carves out an exception for institutionalized religious bigotry is telling.
5.27.2009 4:26pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
This isn't about "outside groups". Christa is a student at the college. She has a first amendment right to speak her views, including views on organizations like SCCC or NOW.

the distinction here is between Christa expressing her own views, and acting as an agent of an outside group. The pamphlets she was distributing were those of an agent of an outside group for which she was soliciting members (and, indirectly, donations.)
5.27.2009 4:28pm
CDU (mail) (www):
the distinction here is between Christa expressing her own views, and acting as an agent of an outside group. The pamphlets she was distributing were those of an agent of an outside group for which she was soliciting members (and, indirectly, donations.)


Asking students to join groups SCCC or NOW is perfectly valid use of Christa's free speech rights. Her actions here are clearly constitutionally protected.
5.27.2009 4:32pm
ShelbyC:

You're intellectually dishonest, paul lukasiak--may you get hit by a bus just severely enough to cause you to suffer through a long, painful, and undignified existence.


Uh, may he not get so hit.
5.27.2009 4:42pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Asking students to join groups SCCC or NOW is perfectly valid use of Christa's free speech rights. Her actions here are clearly constitutionally protected.

while this is a defensible position, its not what is at issue. FIRE is not asserting that colleges have no right to restrict access to their campuses (which is what is implied by your position). FIRE isn't advocating for the rights of credit card companies and NAMBLA to recruit at Christa's school.
5.27.2009 4:42pm
Mark E (mail):
Pgh has a several colleges. The local joke is that CCAC is for those who are unable to get admitted Point Park University, who are people who were not able to get into the Community College of Oakland (aka Univ of Pittsburgh) who are in turn students who are unable to get admitted to Penn State or Carnegie Mellon


I'm sure that this is also true for the administrators. I doubt that you would have (or expect to find) top flight leaders at CCAC.


This is no reflection on the instructors at CCAC though, many of them are professionals who work full time and yet 'give a little back' by teaching in the evenings at the community college
5.27.2009 4:47pm
CDU (mail) (www):

FIRE is not asserting that colleges have no right to restrict access to their campuses (which is what is implied by your position).


That is exactly what FIRE is asserting. In their letter to the college president they said:

In addition, FIRE understands that according to CCAC policy, "all affiliations [of potential student organizations] with outside organizations must be approved by the executive Dean-Vice President." If CCAC wishes to have such a policy, it must not grant administrators any discretion to deny affiliation on the basis of a group's viewpoint or message. Such decisions may only be made in a content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral way, and, of course, any rule must be applied equally to all student organizations. If, as it appears, CCAC's current policy allows administrators the discretion to approve or reject groups based on viewpoint, it is unconstitutional.
5.27.2009 4:49pm
Ken Arromdee:
The organization he is accused of supporting is the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, whose goal is the destruction of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic state. As a religious fascist movement it is right wing in simplistic traditional left vs. right terms.

You have got to be kidding. Tacit approval of such organizations is associated with the left. There are some anti-Israel organizations on the right, but they are a much tinier portion and they generally don't like Muslims either. It's true that they could be considered religious fascists, but this particular type of religious fascist is supported almost entirely by the left. (Notice that the right even has a word, "Islamofascist", for religious Islamic fascist.)
5.27.2009 5:15pm
More Importantly . . .:

in a manner which raises serious questions about her credibility.


You're disputing the significance of the facts she relates, not their truth (i.e., it's no big deal to be called by a nickname in a formal, even adversarial, setting, and waiting 20 minutes isn't unreasonably long, despite the letter's lack of characterization one way or the other). So, while you can feel unpersuaded by the color all you like (as am I), would you like to explain the logical steps that lead to your above conclusion?


Christa is an "unreliable" narrator, and I have serious doubts that she is accurately reflecting the actual conversation.



While you offer no rational support for your assertion that she's unreliable, you can feel that way all you like. Do not confuse your qualms about the reliability of the evidence with there being "no evidence" of the claims asserted. You are of course correct that "nothing prevents her from discussing" these topics--however, there is evidence, questionable though you feel that it is, that the school has attempted to prevent exactly that.

Finally, let's go to the letter one more time; maybe you can address how the following impacts your unsupported claims about an "unreliable narrator":

Do I have this correct? If not, please feel free to reply with any corrections you may have. If I receive no reply within 3 days I will assume that my account of this meeting is accurate and that you do not disagree or have further input on the matter.

Let me know when the school denies any part of what was related in the letter.

If you're a lawyer, it's time to raise the entrance barriers a little higher.
5.27.2009 5:16pm
yankev (mail):

Uh, may he not get so hit.

I agree, may he not get so hit. For one thing, the poor guy obviously has enough tzures as it is.
5.27.2009 5:56pm
paul lukasiak (mail):

would you like to explain the logical steps that lead to your above conclusion?


well, given that the letter starts out with a demonstrably false characterization (that her nickname is " usually only used by my friends"... she herself uses it as her name when soliciting contact from complete strangers), her reliability is impeached almost immediately.


there is evidence, questionable though you feel that it is, that the school has attempted to prevent exactly that.


true, but that "evidence" is limited to Crista's own account of events. The incident hasn't even been covered in the school newspaper. Since Crista impeached her own credibility quite early on, nothing else she has to say can be taken at face value.


Do I have this correct? If not, please feel free to reply with any corrections you may have. If I receive no reply within 3 days I will assume that my account of this meeting is accurate and that you do not disagree or have further input on the matter.

Let me know when the school denies any part of what was related in the letter.


Christa's demand for a response in three days is merely more evidence of her disconnect from objective reality. The school is under no obligation to respond to Christa's mischaracterizations at all, let alone "within three days", and her attempt to force the school to respond to her shows how ridiculous she is.
5.27.2009 6:23pm
yankev (mail):

well, given that the letter starts out with a demonstrably false characterization (that her nickname is " usually only used by my friends"... she herself uses it as her name when soliciting contact from complete strangers), her reliability is impeached almost immediately.
Apaprently no stranger, even in a professional situation, has ever paid you the courtesy of addressing you as Mr. Lukasiak.

More realistically, did it occur to you that someone who is inviting strangers to join her organization might want to get on a first name basis with them immediately, whereas one who is summarily summoned to defend her actions before college administrators who can expel or discipline her might want to be addressed with more formality and respect, particularly when the administrators would have access to her formal first name as contained in their records?

If this is your idea of impeachment, leave the cross examination to your co-counsel.

Or your student intern.
5.27.2009 7:00pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
More realistically, did it occur to you that someone who is inviting strangers to join her organization might want to get on a first name basis with them immediately

sure. except that her first name is Christine, not Crista -- that's a nickname that is usually used only by her close friends.
5.27.2009 7:16pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

this particular type of religious fascist is supported almost entirely by the left. (


It is true that the left is uncritical of organizations like Islamic Jihad, but that is due to blindness as to the true nature of Islamic Jihad, not sympathy for the actual aims of Islamic Jihad. You can't seriously imagine that the mainstream European democratic socialist parties, for example, would actually and knowingly support an islamofascist state?

Note also that leftist support is rarely if ever specifically for organizations like Islamic Jihad. Rather, such leftists tend to support "the Palestinians", and fail to distinguish between supporting them on certain civil libertarian and humanitarian issues and supporting the various political and military groups.
5.27.2009 7:18pm
just another Tom (mail):
I lived 2 streets away from the north side campus (just behind the old stadium and they were tiny streets...300 yards max) about 10 years ago when I was going to another school. The area is UNSAFE!

I had a shooting just outside my building, called the police and 45 minutes later they rolled through the alley and left. A friend walked out with a keychain flashlight and found empty .45 acp brass within 30 seconds. Another shooting a few blocks away while there was a movie (with all the extra security) in town. Violent homeless people everywhere. Packages stolen from the building, break-ins while folks were in their apts, one happened to me.

The security at CCAC was horrible, if any truly existed at all.

I hope that she and FIRE end up owning the college. She seems to be far more intelligent then the folks running it now, but being Pittsburgh I'm not at all surprised by that.
5.27.2009 7:56pm
Ken Hahn (mail):
The college's side of the story will be, as always, "we're academics, that pesky constitution thingy doesn't apply to us".
5.27.2009 8:35pm
Bobbert:
If the administration's actual objection was to what they percieved as a "solicitation" within the phamphlet, they would have done a couple of things right away;

1) Deny the serious allegation that they explicitly stated they objected to the content of the phamphlet.

2) Invite the woman to resume distributing it without the "solicitation".

It has been a month without a response. Tick, tock, tick, tock.
5.27.2009 8:55pm
More Importantly . . .:

a demonstrably false characterization (that her nickname is " usually only used by my friends"... she herself uses it as her name when soliciting contact from complete strangers


Soliciting contact is one thing; were any of those individuals to reply, whether to agree or disagree with her on the merits, perhaps she would deign to use that informal means of address. I see no support for you assumption that using the nickname when seeking out likeminded individuals gives rise to the presumption that the Dean of the college may use it when hauling you into their office to answer charges of violating college policy. If I sign off on my correspondence with co-counsel as Jack, may the Court assume to address me in such a manner after seeing such correspondence attached as an exhibit to my papers? May opposing counsel, after similar acquaintance? Your argument follows poorly, and I haven't even gotten to the lack of a casual linkage between the two issues (her opening statement w/r/t her nickname and the factual accuracy of her chronology)yet.


true, but that "evidence" is limited to Crista's own account of events


Well, that's a different tune than you sang several posts ago. Don't shoo the issue away: she was there, and she stated in her letter (which she likely knew to be made public) that the other parties present should feel free to correct her assertions--that's not an inconsequential statement, regardless of your deliberately overblown statement about "credibility" that turns not on her characterization of fact but, essentially, on a cultural norm about nicknames. Hardly the same as "I believe you to have uttered the following words, in the following order, at this point in our meeting--correct me if that's wrong."



[3 days is evidence of reasonableness]


You'll note that I didn't ask you to show me disagreement by the school with the accuracy of her chronology and description within her timeframe--I said show me any disagreement. At all. Ever. They've had a lot more than three days.
5.27.2009 9:15pm
More Importantly . . .:

Crista -- that's a nickname that is usually used only by her close friends



usually only used by my friends

Try not to deliberately lie by misquoting language you've looked at all day. Not because that's beneath you, as clearly little is, but because it serves your arguments poorly.
5.27.2009 9:21pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
FIRE picks and chooses what it thinks schools should be doing. Ivy League Universities embrace a variety of principles (not just free speech, but diversity, and non-hostile environment for members of the academic community) that they balance based on their interpretation of "the standard they hold forth for themselves". That doesn't stop FIRE from criticizing those institutions (and constantly reiterating how "liberal" they are.)
If Ivy League schools (or any other private schools) want to claim that they place "diversity" -- whatever that means -- ahead of free speech, then that's their prerogative. But as long as they don't claim that, as long as they claim that they respect free speech, FIRE will call them on their failure to do so.
5.27.2009 9:24pm
Andeep (mail):

paul lukasiak—may you get hit by a bus just severely enough to cause you to suffer through a long, painful, and undignified existence.


Even more so?


You can't seriously imagine that the mainstream European democratic socialist parties, for example, would actually and knowingly support an islamofascist state?


I tend not to underestimate people's ignorance and stupidity ("blindness"), but at some point, one does start seriously imagining alternative explanations.
5.27.2009 11:35pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
That lukasiak feller sure enjoys being a piñata.
5.27.2009 11:40pm
Larrya (mail) (www):
Obviously, FIRE is obviously a right wing organization.
Obviously FIRE doesn’t spend a lot of time defending left-wing speech on college campuses. That would be like defending vegetarianism at a PETA meeting.
Most universities and colleges are hostile to gun rights and gun owners and I can see how they would freak out over something like this.
”See? See? We told you campus carry would inhibit academic freedom!”
I disagree. Based on the content of the pamphlet itself, "Christa" was acting on behalf of the national organization in "soliciting" members (including a reference to "our campus leader Christa Brashier").
The most common way to set up a campus organization is to have prospective members join the national organization until there are enough members to form a local chapter.
I'd be willing to bet that if the National Organization for Women wanted to do a membership drive on campus, it would have to get permission from the school administration.
Which would take about ten seconds, unless there’s already a campus chapter.
5.28.2009 12:09am
hcrawford (mail):
That Lukasiak fellow sure likes to repeat himself. A lot.

Doesn't make your arguments any more solid, dude.

I'd like to see the list of cases where the ACLU helped right-wing causes....

(crickets)

Thought so.
5.28.2009 4:46pm
whit:

In other words, FIRE (as is its wont) appears to be jumping the gun (no pun intended) per usual. Unlike the ACLU, FIRE concentrates almost exclusively on "defending" right-wing speech -- and does so with little credibility.


of course FIRE disproportionately represents those on the right in regards to speech issues.

that's because those on the right are disproportionately censored in their speech on college campuses. does ANYBODY deny this is the case?

just look at the responses to the "affirmative action bake sale" and other conservative speech that has been attacked.

last i checked, defense attorneys "concentrate almost exclusively on defending male bank robbers (vs. female bank robbers"

of course that's because very few women rob banks.
5.28.2009 6:31pm
pintler:

I'd like to see the list of cases where the ACLU helped right-wing causes....


If you define neo Nazis and the KKK as right wing causes, google 'ACLU Skokie' and 'ACLU cross burning'.

IIRC, the ACLU sent a Jewish lawyer to advocate for the Nazis, and a black one to defend the KKK member, which certainly earns points for style as well as substance.
5.29.2009 1:54pm

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