Have you’ve noticed that college commissars on the Left are cracking down on conservative voices again? Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice wasn’t welcome to speak at Rutgers; ditto Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Brandeis and Charles Murray at Azusa. In the Harvard Crimson, a student opined that conservative scholarship—such as Harvey Mansfield’s—should be suppressed in order to achieve (her idea of) justice. Then there is the movement that wants trigger warnings in all college course material, ostensibly to protect students from content that might traumatize them. What’s going on?
“The answer,” writes Daniel Henninger, “is that the Obama administration let the dogs out.”:
The trigger event was an agreement signed last May between the federal government and the University of Montana to resolve a Title IX dispute over a sexual-assault case.
Every college administrator in the U.S. knows about this agreement. Indeed, there are three separate, detailed “Montana” documents that were signed jointly—and this is unusual—by the civil-rights divisions of the Justice and Education Departments. Remarked DOJ’s Jocelyn Samuels, “The government is stronger when we speak with one voice.”
That’s real muscle. But read the agreement. It is Orwellian.
The agreement orders the school to retain an “Equity Consultant” (yes, there is such a thing) to advise it indefinitely on compliance. The school must, with the equity consultant, conduct “annual climate surveys.” It will submit the results “to the United States.”
The agreement describes compliance in mind-numbing detail, but in fact the actual definitional world it creates is vague. It says: “The term ‘sexual harassment’ means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” But there are also definitions for sexual assault and gender-based harassment. All of this detailed writ is called “guidance.” As in missile. […]
Make no mistake, universities under constant pressure from the Obama administration and the most driven members of their “communities” will comply and define due process downward. If the liability choice falls between the lawyer brigades at the Holder Justice Department or some 19-year-old student or an assistant professor who didn’t post the course’s “trigger warning,” guess who will get tossed to the Marcusian mobs at Harvard and Vassar? [Wall Street Journal, May 7]
Then we have this item from Paul Bedard:
Government officials, reacting to the growing voice of conservative news outlets, especially on the internet, are angling to curtail the media’s exemption from federal election laws governing political organizations, a potentially chilling intervention that the chairman of the Federal Election Commission is vowing to fight.
“I think that there are impulses in the government every day to second guess and look into the editorial decisions of conservative publishers,” warned Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman in an interview.
“The right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and internet communications,” he added. […]
Goodman cited several examples where the FEC has considered regulating conservative media, including Sean Hannity‘s radio show and Citizens United’s movie division. Those efforts to lift the media exemption died in split votes at the politically evenly divided board, often with Democrats seeking regulation. [Washington Examiner, May 7]
Finally, consider the news from Wisconsin, where a “federal judge has ordered a halt to a wide-ranging secret prosecutorial probe aimed at groups supporting Gov. Scott Walker.” As written up by Walter Olson, the judge’s opinion details the abuses committed in an effort to criminalize participation in politics by conservatives:
“Defendants instigated a secret John Doe investigation replete with armed raids on homes to collect evidence that would support their criminal prosecution.” Judge Rudolph Randa goes on to cite stunningly abusive conduct by the secret prosecutors and law enforcers under their command. […]
“The subpoenas’ list of advocacy groups indicates that all or nearly all right-of-center groups and individuals in Wisconsin who engaged in issue advocacy from 2010 to the present are targets of the investigation,” the judge writes. At the homes of targets across the state in the predawn hours of Oct. 3, 2013, “Sheriff deputy vehicles used bright floodlights to illuminate the targets’ homes. Deputies executed the search warrants, seizing business papers, computer equipment, phones, and other devices, while their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys.” Target groups were also ordered to turn over essentially their entire records of public advocacy activity over a period of years. [Cato Institute, May 7]
To borrow a few more words from Henninger: “If it’s possible for the left to have its John Birch moment, we’re in it. Wave goodbye to cardboard civility.” [Wall Street Journal, May 7]