Update: Kenneth Starr will most likely be on campus March 5, 2009.
Many of you will remember when the QRC disrupted our dining halls after Proposition 8 was passed. At the time, Ilan Wurman wrote an op-ed about how those on the gay Left seek to defame, rather than debate those of us who have a serious issues with the idea of homosexual marriage. They would rather accept us as homophobic and bigots than try to talk with us, their otherwise neighbors and friends. It's really a shame when people, as the QRC activists did, claim that something is "unacceptable" in politics -- as if anything could really ever be "unacceptable."
In any event, the Queer Resource Center is at it again. Pomona's Student Union is planning to bring Kenneth Starr of Whitewater fame to speak to campus. Starr, as you'll know, has had a very distinguished career. He's served as a federal judge, solicitor general, and independent counsel. He has fought Sarbanes-Oxley and McCain-Feingold in court, arguing that both laws are unconstitutional, which frankly, they are! He won the infamous Bong Hits 4 Jesus case and he continues to represent Blackwater. In short, he's the kind of man we would want coming to talk to Pomona, if only so that they could hear the other side of some of the causes that are so in vogue on the Left.
Of course, Starr is also representing the People of the State of California in challenging the marriages of some 18,000 gay couples who were married in California prior to Proposition 8 being passed. As you can imagine, the QRC, which finds it "unacceptable" that anyone oppose gay marriage, is upset that Starr is even coming, though it should be noted that Starr probably isn't even speaking on gay marriage or any such topic.
While sources tell me that the QRC will have a quiet protest, I'm worried that people will stand up and obscure or otherwise make it difficult for members of the audience to hear the speaker. This occurred at Pomona's immigration debate last year, which ended prematurely due to the protesters shouting down the speaker.
Sources tell us that Shakina "Ricki" Nayfack, the Queer Resource Center Coordinator, is having Dean Mooko "give a briefing at the QRC on the Pomona College Demonstration Policy." We hope Dean Mooko reminds the students that freedom of speech also includes the freedom to listen and hear a speaker. For those of you who will remember, Dean Mooko is also the Dean of Women.
Here's the email he sent out. I've injected my own thoughts in the brackets I've provided and bolded the most relevant section down below.
Dear Campus Leaders and QRC Staff,
Having had time to think more about Ken Starr, I wanted to fill you in on some of the issues that i think surround his coming to Pomona. Ultimately, while I do think he should be allowed to speak, I would support a form of protest or education that does not threaten or silence the academic debate the PSU will be hosting. [CJ's note: With all due respect, what gives you the right to decide who should be "allowed to speak"?]
The PSU has brought controversial speakers to the campus in the past, most notably Marvin Stewart, whose words and tone at the debate on immigration made many students feel personally threatened. [How does one feel "personally threatened by words"?] The underlying problem with bringing Stewart to Pomona - in the school's opinion - was not so much his offensive views as his tone and the way that the debate got out of hand. [CJ's note: The debate got out of hand because people demanded the "right" to stand with their backs turned to the speaker making it difficult for the audience to see or hear the speaker. They then shouted down Mr. Stewart.] I am not sure we should expect the same unprofessional and hateful behavior from Starr, and if we continue with plans to protest him, we should research his past appearances at colleges and universities and see if there is reason to expect animosity on his part towards students.
Ken Starr is not speaking on gay marriage, and agreeing to speak at Pomona is not a contract not to engage in any activities that members of the college community find deeply offensive. Canceling the talk because of the speaker's involvement in an unrelated issue is certainly a step down the road towards censorship, and the queer community and the college should reflect upon this before coming to any decisions.
The PSU seeks to bring speakers who hold a wide variety of opinions to Pomona, where only a few opinions get voiced. If Ken Starr is willing to have an academic debate at Pomona, then his other activities, within the law, do not merit a disinvitation. As a community to whom the right of free speech is exceedingly important, perhaps we should not be so quick to silence others for holding views that differ from our own, or even for pursuing those views within the legal system. Educating the students about Starr or encouraging the PSU toreject or distance themselves from his actions regarding gay marriage is another matter, as is non-disruptive protest. [Emphasis added.]
Unfortunately, it would appear that it has become increasingly common for people to be disruptive on our campuses. Some of us came to college to hear all sides and then draw our own conclusions. The QRC, funded as it is with many of our student fees, owes us no less than the professors who welcome and entertain all ideas on the road to education.
In part, I blame President Oxtoby for encouraging this kind of misbehavior when he wrote this email that he sent out to the entire community. I've bolded the relevant words in question. It looks like its time for Oxtoby to say once and for all whether he appreciates freedom of speech and inquiry, or whether he's a multicultural bully. This email should give us little doubt as to which side he's currently on.
In the aftermath of the passage of Proposition 8, I have received a number of messages of concern from faculty, students, and staff at Pomona College. As you know, the issue of gay marriage has generated considerable debate both here in California and throughout the country.
I recognize of course that members of our community have different views on this particular proposition and on the underlying issues. I trust, though, that you will join me in expressing support for those who feel negatively affected by the passage of this measure. Whatever our views, we can affirm together that Pomona College will remain an inclusive and tolerant community that respects difference and welcomes diversity