From the Daily News-Record
|Boorish Students Ruin Ceremony |
It's a funny thing about free speech. As Americans, we are obliged to honor the concept embedded in our Bill of Rights. And it's well that we should — and not only in the breach, or when the "speech" in question pleases our sensitivities. It is with this in mind that we dare to comment on a form of expression that dishonored longtime conservative advocate Phyllis Schlafly at a solemn ceremony last week in St. Louis.
Much to its credit, Washington University decided to bestow an honorary doctorate in humane letters to Mrs. Schlafly, who already holds two degrees from the school. Segments of the faculty and student body urged university officials to rescind the degree. They declined, again much to their credit. As Margaret Bush Wilson, a retired civil rights attorney who volunteered to introduce Mrs. Schlafly, said, "It is Phyllis Schlafly's persona — not her politics or views — which is being recognized here today." Hear, hear.
Still, when the time came to award the degree, a number of students, their families, and, disgracefully, faculty — already wearing white armbands in protest — turned their backs on Mrs. Schlafly. Three faculty members even walked off the stage.
Here's our point: Given our tradition of free speech, these people were well within their rights to make such a demonstration. But, likewise, we are well within ours to describe it as rude, boorish, and totally lacking in class and good taste. We are similarly entitled to note the arrant hypocrisy of certain members of an academic community that spouts its commitment to "tolerance" and "diversity." Apparently such virtues are to be lavished only on folks who espouse the same opinions and world-view. Some "diversity."
By the way, the 83-year-old Mrs. Schlafly refused to be flummoxed. Of her degree, she said, "It's the highest honor a university can give to anyone." And, in a barb aimed directly at her student detractors, she added, "I'm not sure they're mature enough to graduate."
And, as we see it, that would go for those faculty members — adults acting sophomorically — as well.