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The University of St. Thomas Administration Cowers to the Left Again

It all started when our good friend Nick Coleman penned a little piece to Pope Benedict XVI claiming that St. Thomas students didn't know the difference between Eugene McCarthy and Joseph McCarthy (in the guise of Ann Coulter) and that he should keep an eye on these "Catholics" who find her amusing, informative, or whatever. Notice how I didn't say it all began when Ann Coulter came to St. Thomas. That's because had Coleman not written his article, it would not have been an issue. But the troops were then mobilized.

In lock-step to usual protocol, after receiving a few complaints from outraged folks that were upset the school would allow her to speak because of her incivility (which of course is only pretextual) the Rev. Dennis Dease issued his usual apology citing her "vitriolic, mean-spirited, and disrespectful" remarks. The university then got exactly the press it wanted to clean up the mess caused by Coleman's piece in an article in today's Star-Tribune under the headline "St. Thomas president denounces Coulter's speech as hateful."

Two points are in order. First, I find Ann Coulter's rhetoric to be uncivil and corrosive to public discourse. Additionally, I think St. Thomas should be allowed to ban anyone they want from speaking on campus consistent with its mission as a Catholic university, speakers demonstrating gross incivility included.

However, St. Thomas has a history of having all sorts of speakers that use other intellectually intimidating language (besides idiot, loser, moron, traitor -- like Ann Coulter) such as racist, sexist, homophobe, misogynist, and on and on. Just because the intellectually intimidating speech is couched in more "academic" terms, does not mean it is any less uncivil or unhelpful. Additionally, there is usually only a big stink about speakers at St. Thomas that are either 1) public supportive of abortion (and for good reason) or 2) outspoken Republicans/Conservatives/Right-wing folks. Coulter says nothing that is any more uncivil than Al Franken, Howard Dean, Bill Maher or dozens of other folks on the Left. Yet these speakers would not raise near the fuss caused by Coulter. This is my own experience with the university which tried to pull the plug on a lecture by Ward Connerly (the major African-American opponent of affirmative action) during my time as head of the College Republicans at St. Thomas.

So my point is, let's be frank about the real issue here. It is not about cvility, it's about ideology. And when the right people phone Dennis Dease, the University of St. Thomas cowers.


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Comments (2)

Jesse Nelson:

Posted on behalf of Jessica Nelson, St. Thomas University alum, who is feverishly working on becoming a St. Thomas Law School alum: Jason's last comment on ideology is right on the money. Recently the St. Thomas Law School played host to one Al Franken. Only stopping by for a short time was long enough to see that his speech was uncivil and quite inflamatory. It is an issue of ideology, as there has not been much flap about Mr. Franken's visit, and if there were, it was most probably quickly and quietly quelched.

Jason A.:

Thanks for your post. If you know of any other instances, please have them drop me a line here.

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