'Power of activism': University folds in free-speech fight
Conservative student punished over anti-Islam, race tweets
August 6, 2015
After days of intense media attention, Texas Christian University reinstated Harry Vincent, a student who had been suspended for critical comments about Islam and Mexicans he made on social media.
Vincent, a member of the College Republicans as well as Young Americans for Freedom, told WND: "Stand strong in your beliefs and don't let anyone try to quiet your opinion. We are entitled to our freedom of speech and we can't sit back and allow institutions such as TCU to attempt to silence us.
"Don't apologize for being a leader in a pack of sheep. Don't underestimate the power of activism. I took my case and spread the word and with the help of people all over the nation, I was able to defend and protect my freedom of speech."
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an organization which defends "individual rights at America's colleges and universities," said it was pleased about the decision, but was dissatisfied Vincent remains on disciplinary probation, declaring it "inappropriate."
Vincent also declared victory via Twitter and thanked his supporters.
WND reported earlier this week on the situation, joining other news organizations such as Fox News, so public scrutiny was focused on the actions of the private university of under 9,000 undergraduates.
Though Vincent apologized for some of his comments, he maintained throughout the case he had the right to free speech.
Had the suspension remained in place, Vincent said he most likely would not have returned to TCU, remarking, "I'm not going to stand down and watch an institution throw away the Constitution and throw away basic God-given rights."
Jack Cashill, a WND columnist and author of the new book "Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism," praised Vincent for standing up to political correctness.
He told WND: "Harry Vincent did what he needed to do: stand up and fight for his rights. He may not win his case, but he will not lose his dignity. If more people did what he did, the universities would not be able to suppress certain kinds of speech as they are doing now.
"Make no mistake, universities are being very selective in determining what kinds of speech are offensive and what kinds need to be punished. Students need to push back against this even before they get caught in the machinery of oppression."
Vincent's troubles began when a former acquaintance known as "Kelsey" took offense at some of his postings and undertook a coordinated campaign to have him punished by the university after a hostile exchange on social networking. Though Vincent knows who the person is, he does not want to reveal her real name.
One of his statements said: "These hoodrat criminals in Baltimore need to be shipped off and exiled to the sahara desert. Maybe then they'll realize how much we provide for them (welfare, college tuition, Obama's phone's, medicare, etc."
Another tweet on Islam: "This is clearly not a religion of peace."
And in one more social media post he referred to Mexicans as "beaners."
Vincent claims the exchange began when "Kelsey" allegedly tweeted, "9/11/2001 was the best thing that's happened to America," before later deleting it.
"Kelsey" told her followers on Tumblr to "email TCU and tell them that he's shedding a bad light on their university."
At some point since August 5, "Kelsey" deleted her Tumblr page, though it remains temporarily available on Google Cache. She also locked her Twitter account.
A source provided WND with tweets from "Kelsey's" account before it was deleted showing evidence of bias against whites.
Though "Kelsey" did not go to the school, Associate Dean of Students Gloria "Glory" Robinson ordered Vincent to apologize – and then used the apology letter he had been ordered to write as evidence he had violated university policy. Vincent's appeal was also denied, and his suspension was lifted only after a public outcry.
Cashill believes the entire incident is typical of how universities practice a double standard when it comes to free speech. He charges American colleges are focused more on indoctrination than education.
"Universities were created to be islands of enlightenment in the sea of orthodoxy," Cashill said. "Now they have become islands of orthodoxy, a repressive orthodoxy at that."
However, as Cashill notes, such repression can be resisted. Vincent is preaching the same message, urging others to engage in activism to defend freedom of speech.
He is now returning to TCU, on disciplinary probation, but also on his own terms. As he said in a statement released to the media: "I told the chancellor in order for my return I would need to be assured Gloria Robinson is not involved in any matters involving me for the rest of my time at TCU. The chancellor assured me that she wouldn't."
Related Topics: Free Speech on College Campus, Pressure Tactics Against Free Speech
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