This is quite a story. It shows that The Great Stupid is still capable of getting more stupid. It shows that colleges and universities are determined to crush, not just dissent, but those who merely point out the inherent absurdity of progressive cant. It also shows that too many university administrators don’t read court opinions and don’t understand the First Amendment.
To take the last first, Owen Stevens, a contrary student at the State University of New York-Geneseo (SUNY-Geneseo), simply cannot be punished by the school for an Instagram posted video and his blog, no matter what they say, short of defaming or threatening a student or faculty member. What he did say in an Instagram post, “A man is a man, a woman is a woman. A man is not a woman and a woman is not a man,” is at worst a viewpoint, and really a fact. A state school can’t possibly get away with suspending a student 1) for non campus conduct, 2) for protected speech, or 3) for social media comments unrelated to the institution. It’s unethical, and it’s illegal. And, of course, it is stupid.
The email Owen received from the school (and quickly posted) is smoking gun evidence of an anti-speech, anti-expression, anti-dissent, indoctrination mindset infecting the school and corrupting its culture. Some students who did not agree with his positions reported the posts to the university’s administration like the good little totalitarians and fascists they have been raised and educated to be. The university’s administration then suspended Stevens from all field teaching programs, which are mandatory for education students. The school argued that his claims “call into question” a teacher’s requirement to “maintain a classroom environment protecting the mental and emotional well-being of all students.”
The school is wrong, disgusting, un-American, and dangerous.
“After review of all available materials, I find that, based on your continued public stance and social media presence, you do not consistently demonstrate behaviors required by the Conceptual Framework of the School of Education,” the Dean of the school of education wrote in an email to Stevens informing him of the suspension.
To get the suspension lifted, Stevens must complete a “remediation plan,” which involves deleting the posts on his Instagram account, reducing his social media presence, and attending a training he dubbed “re-education.” It implies that future teachers like Stevens must support “all forms” of gender identity. The email said that statement conflicts with the Dignity for All Students Act in the state of New York and SUNY’s inclusivity doctrine, which states that teachers should promote “a diverse campus community marked by mutual respect for the unique talents and contributions of each individual.”
The doctrine does not support viewpoint inclusivity, obviously.
The quote highlighted in the headline is not the only statement by Stevens that the Dean felt warranted punishment, though that’s the impression you will get from reading conservative media headlines. No, Stevens was busy on Instagram and his blog hitting progressive hot buttons. His website JustOwen.com features the American flag with the description “An American, Loving America”. There is a “Just Owen’ podcast too, which Stevens describes thusly: “I firmly believe that America is the greatest country ever. My podcast covers culture, politics, and life through the lens of a conservative and Christian man. Liberty, American values, and individuality are the greatest gifts that this country has to offer. Please subscribe to the show! I’d love to have you.” On Instagram, he has stated that abortion is murder, that Islam is violent, that Columbus should be honored, that “All Lives Matter” and that he disapproves of gay marriage.
He has a right to those views, the right to express them, and the right to do so without being persecuted by anyone, but especially a state institution.
Stephens is fighting all of this, and deserves the support of every American regardless of partisan leanings and ideology—except the fascists, of course.
Incidentally, there has been virtually no coverage of this dead canary by the mainstream media.