Ethics Dunce: Stockton University (NJ), And Anyone Else Who Thinks A Photograph Of The President Of The United States Constitutes “Taunting”

“OH NO! TAKE IT AWAY! IT’S EVIL!!! EVIL!!!

I am about to conclude that schools and universities keep attempting to unconstitutionally smother students’ freedom of speech and expression because they think eventually the culture will just give in and let them enforce viewpoint conformity.

In the alternative, the people who run these institutions are just dumb as a box of nutcrackers.

Let’s take Stockton College in New Jersey, for example.

Doctoral student Robert  Dailyda used a photo of the President of the United States as his Zoom background during a July 1 virtual class. Some students complained, and he administration wrote in an incident report that the photo caused students “to feel offended, disrespected, and taunted.” Such students should have been told, in no uncertain terms, “Donald Trump is President of the United States, and the elected leader of the government of the nation in which you live. If his picture makes you feel offended, disrespected, and taunted, feel free to visit the campus mental health facilities. In the alternative, grow the hell up.”

Instead, ten days later and being Summa Cum Ethics Dunces, Stockton’s administrators called the student in “on the carpet”  to justify his political views, claiming that students were offended by the Zoom background of the Evil POTUS, Dailyda’s comments in the subsequent GroupMe chat in which he was attacked by other students in the class, and his subsequent Facebook post defending his rights to express his opinion. The university claimed that students also found that post “offensive, threatening, and concerning.”

The “offensive, threatening, and concerning” post read,

Six days later, Stockton charged Dailyda with violating the code of conduct for disruptive behavior, discrimination, harassment, creating a hostile environment, causing harm, and cyber-bullying. At a pre-hearing interview on July 31, an administrator listed potential sanctions for the charges, including: “[s]uspension, $50 fine, community service project, social justice workshop, and decision making workshop.”

Yes, Stockton is run by censorious, speech-chilling, GroupThink-enforcing assholes who apparently have never read the Bill of Rights, much less respect it. Fortunately, the campus speech champions at The Foundation For Individual Rights in Education are on the case. In its letter to the apparently clueless administrators, FIRE explains  Stockton’s obligation as a public institution to respect students’ First Amendment rights, and reminds Stockton administrators that the First Amendment even protects offensive expression, which Dailyda’s is not by any rational standards.

But the self-righteous of the Left and the Trump-Deranged no longer have rational standards.

Here, in its entirety, is FIRE’s letter. It begins,

FIRE is concerned by the disciplinary charges leveled by Stockton University against doctoral student Robert Dailyda over his political Facebook post and choice of Zoom background during class. These charges violate Stockton University’s obligations under the First Amendment and must be withdrawn.

Regarding the Trump background, the 15 page slam-dunk letter states in part,

Here, there is no indication that Dailyda’s symbolic political expression amounted to a “material and substantial” disruption of the class. Students engaged in “heated” discussion about the expression in a later conversation, but the fact that expression “caused discussion outside of the classrooms” is not disruption.Nor is the “silent, passive ‘witness of . . .’”expression sufficient to remove the expression from the First Amendment’s embrace. Indeed, the Tinker majority rejected the dissent’s complaint that the black armbands may have taken “the students’ minds off their classwork and diverted them to thoughts about the highly emotional subject of the Vietnam war.”The complaint against Dailyda is void of any suggestion that his silent display caused any interruption to the class itself.

Regarding the Facebook post, FIRE concludes,

Dailyda’s Facebook post is clearly political hyperbole meriting the highest level of First Amendment protection. His Facebook post does not demonstrate a serious intent to harm any particular person or group—as Dailyda stated multiple times to police officers and Stockton administrators. To the contrary, pledging to “fight to the death for” a cause is a common rhetorical expression underscoring the sincerity of the speaker’s loyalty. No reasonable person would read it as a serious expression of an intent to undertake violence.

The letter concludes,

III. Stockton Must Rescind the Disciplinary Charges Filed Against Dailyda.

The expression here is clearly protected. It did not disrupt any university activity, nor does it amount to an unprotected true threat or harassment. Dailyda received “heated” criticism from his fellow students outside of class—a form of “more speech,” the remedy to offensive expression that the First Amendment prefers to censorship47—but the university itself acknowledges that he sought to avoid conflict. Stockton may not permissibly use its disciplinary process to punish Dailyda for his protected political expression. Given the urgent nature of this matter, we request receipt of a response to this letter no later than the close of business on Tuesday, August 11, confirming that Stockton has abandoned pursuit of the charges against Dailyda.

Your move, dummies.

17 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Stockton University (NJ), And Anyone Else Who Thinks A Photograph Of The President Of The United States Constitutes “Taunting”

  1. Just fine. “1984” was a worst-case scenario for the future of America and democracy. Sorry guys, we’re living it now. Just took a bit longer than George Orwell thought it would…

  2. Too tru. I am reminded of an “Animal Farm” quote. “We are all equal…some are just MORE equal than others”.

      • Mob mentality is, of course, a very real thing. It was never more obvious than in the lynch-mobs of post-civil war era. However, it should (note: I say SHOULD) NOT be considered a “temporary insanity” defense. It has very little to deo with recognizing the difference between right and wrong, and a great deal to do with not caring.

  3. Could a student reasonably demand compensation for having been made an object of public debate and potential harassment due to the school’s failure to resolve this issue in a reasonable and discreet way? Additionally, is there any way that he could be reimbursed for his time, tuition, and other expenses due to the school’s apparent unwillingness to protect him, which raises the likelihood that attending a different college may be necessary for him to be able to complete his studies without harassment by the aggressively “woke”?

    I’m genuinely curious whether he had any legal recourse in this situation.

  4. I believe that labeling the administrators as dumb or dunces is inaccurate. I would term them to be dangerous propagandists. They are individuals who abuse their power and the responsibility bestowed on them to educate their students. Rather than imparting knowledge to their students, they engage in propaganda. They use conditioning and coercion to convert the students into adopting and promoting their particular version of how the world should be. I submit that any institution that forcibly represses views counter to their beliefs is immoral and repugnant. If their beliefs are fact-based, logical, and empirically evident they would not have to use conditioning and coercion to have them adopted by people. It is really analogous to which system is superior for mankind communism or capitalism? I think the empirical answer is found in which system constructs barriers to entry and which constructs barriers to exit. To label, these miscreants as dumb or dunces minimizes the evil and harm they do to their students and society.

  5. It’s things like this that lend support my claim that the the deliberate dumbing-down of America is complete and irrational social justice warriors have already won the battle of the minds across the metropolitan areas of the United States, they’re controlling damn near all the college campuses and infiltrating everything in society with their irrational poison. They’re being elected to local governments, school boards, and congress and this is just one more small example that piles on the evidence to prove my argument. It’s a verifiable pattern; it’s happening over and Over and OVER again and it will not stop until there is a HUGE public blow up and the shit really hits the fan because some company or University or municipality doesn’t bow to the social justice army of irrational lunatics.

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