Ann Coulter vs. the Jesuits at Fordham: A college invite is rescinded

Pundit Ann Coulter

Pundit Ann Coulter

I have written this blog now for several years, and only mentioned acidic pundit Ann Coulter once. Three weeks later, I am bringing her up again because this incident demonstrates a sensible way to handle controversies over college speakers.

Coulter was invited to Fordham University in New York to speak on Nov. 29 by the College Republicans.

The planned appearance  triggered protests and a student petition. A group of students argued that tuition should not be used to underwrite speakers at the private college who are “not compatible with the values the Fordham community professes – particularly the Jesuit tenet of ‘Men and Women for and With Others’.”

See what you think of Fordham President Joseph M. McShane’s response and of the decision Friday night by the Fordham College Republicans to cancel Coulter’s appearance.

First, Father McShane’s statement:

The College Republicans, a student club at Fordham University, has invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus on November 29. The event is funded through student activity fees and is not open to the public nor the media. Student groups are allowed, and encouraged, to invite speakers who represent diverse, and sometimes unpopular, points of view, in keeping with the canons of academic freedom. Accordingly, the University will not block the College Republicans from hosting their speaker of choice on campus.

To say that I am disappointed with the judgment and maturity of the College Republicans, however, would be a tremendous understatement. There are many people who can speak to the conservative point of view with integrity and conviction, but Ms. Coulter is not among them. Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative — more heat than light — and her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.

As members of a Jesuit institution, we are called upon to deal with one another with civility and compassion, not to sling mud and impugn the motives of those with whom we disagree or to engage in racial or social stereotyping. In the wake of several bias incidents last spring, I told the University community that I hold out great contempt for anyone who would intentionally inflict pain on another human being because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or creed.

“Disgust” was the word I used to sum up my feelings about those incidents. Hate speech, name-calling, and incivility are completely at odds with the Jesuit ideals that have always guided and animated Fordham.

Still, to prohibit Ms. Coulter from speaking at Fordham would be to do greater violence to the academy, and to the Jesuit tradition of fearless and robust engagement. Preventing Ms. Coulter from speaking would counter one wrong with another. The old saw goes that the answer to bad speech is more speech. This is especially true at a university, and I fully expect our students, faculty, alumni, parents, and staff to voice their opposition, civilly and respectfully, and forcefully.

The College Republicans have unwittingly provided Fordham with a test of its character: do we abandon our ideals in the face of repugnant speech and seek to stifle Ms. Coulter’s (and the student organizers’) opinions, or do we use her appearance as an opportunity to prove that our ideas are better and our faith in the academy — and one another — stronger? We have chosen the latter course, confident in our community and in the power of decency and reason to overcome hatred and prejudice.

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President

From the College Republicans late Friday:

The College Republicans regret the controversy surrounding our planned lecture featuring Ann Coulter. The size and severity of opposition to this event have caught us by surprise and caused us to question our decision to welcome her to Rose Hill. Looking at the concerns raised about Ms. Coulter, many of them reasonable, we have determined that some of her comments do not represent the ideals of the College Republicans and are inconsistent with both our organization’s mission and the University’s. We regret that we failed to thoroughly research her before announcing; that is our error and we do not excuse ourselves for it. Consistent with our strong disagreement with certain comments by Ms. Coulter, we have chosen to cancel the event and rescind Ms. Coulter’s invitation to speak at Fordham.

We made this choice freely before Father McShane’s email was sent out and we became aware of his feelings – had the President simply reached out to us before releasing his statement, he would have learned that the event was being cancelled. We hope the University community will forgive the College Republicans for our error and continue to allow us to serve as its main voice of the sensible, compassionate, and conservative political movement that we strive to be. We fell short of that standard this time, and we offer our sincere apologies.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

413 comments Add your comment

Cindy Lutenbacher

November 10th, 2012
9:35 am

I have to say that I am heartily opposed to censorship. And I am just as opposed to giving bully pulpits to folks who use their positions to vomit up hate.

I hesitated to even respond because I believe that if we didn’t give credence and voice to such absurd hate, then those bully pulpits would disappear. But we also have a responsibility to follow Father McShane’s counsel to answer “bad” speech with better speech.

Beverly Fraud

November 10th, 2012
9:39 am

A clear case of censorship; no, not government censorship, self censorship. As such, a good choice, but no doubt Coulter will somehow find a way to victimize herself over it.

Truth-o-meter

November 10th, 2012
9:40 am

Enter your comments here

Another view

November 10th, 2012
9:42 am

Fr. McShane’s model is quite right. I wish Columbus State University would do the same with regard to the Blanchard Leadership forum. Alas, they allow no room for this here.

Happy St. Pat's!

November 10th, 2012
9:42 am

Wow! The handling of this issue was absurdly sensible and thoughtful. Can I move to the planet where these people live? When did they make contact with us?

Truth-o-meter

November 10th, 2012
9:42 am

How mature of this organization. Hats off to them.

Cindy Lutenbacher

November 10th, 2012
9:45 am

Happy St. Pat’s!–Thanks for great lines and laughs.

Pride and Joy

November 10th, 2012
9:48 am

I understand not wanting to censor anyone, including Acid Ann Coulter. I wouldn’t censor her.
However, I wouldn’t allow my student fees used to pay her speaker fees. That’s wrong.
If the college Republicans want to invite Acid Ann to speak, they can pay for her out of their own pockets and not use other people’s money to pay for her fees.
On the flip side, I get a big smile out of Ann because she is using her brand of hate to make a profit off of the idiots willing to pay her fees to hear her umm “message.” She is laughing all the way to the bank every day.
Those college “Republicans” are being duped out of their money. Ann doesn’t really believe the nonsense she vomits out of her brain; she is just using some people’s small minds to make herself rich and that makes me laugh at the idiots willing to spend their money on her.

indigo

November 10th, 2012
9:57 am

Ann Coulter vs the Jesuits – The phrase “the blind leading the blind” comes to mind.

Top School

November 10th, 2012
10:14 am

You’re never completely worthless. You can always serve as a bad example.

Coulter will eventually disappear into a nothingness void like Jesse Helms as she ages.
Hopefully, in her later years… she too, can apologize for her egotistical behaviors and become BORN AGAIN …GOOD…and forgiven before she leaves this earth.

Lucky for her…make-up AND hair color currently covers most of her ugly.
If she continues at the rate she is going…NO PRODUCT on earth will cover that UGLY.
It has almost set in to the bone.

Lee

November 10th, 2012
10:30 am

Interesting that Fordham fully supports LGBT activities, but invite a best selling author on campus and they go into politically correct hissy fit mode:

http://www.fordham.edu/student_affairs/multicultural_affair/lgbt_resources/index.asp

The President of Fordham had the right response when he said “…or do we use her appearance as an opportunity to prove that our ideas are better…”.

Top School

November 10th, 2012
10:42 am

Ann Coulter
The reincarnation of Jesse Helms

Historical Quotes from the Helms generation …are no more radical than Coulter’s current hate filled quotes.

“They should ask their parents if it would be all right for their son or daughter to marry a Negro.”
– In response to Duke University students holding a vigil after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, 1968 – Jesse Helms

“No, I do not. And neither do the people in the armed forces. Mr. Clinton better watch out if he comes down here. He’d better have a bodyguard.”
– When asked in 1994 on CNN if he thought President Clinton was “up to the job” of serving as Commander-in-Chief -Jesse Helms

“It’s their deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct that is responsible for the disease.”
– Justifying his refusal to give financial support to families of AIDS victims. – Jesse Helms

Coulter has become an embarrassment to most civilized people.
Her Jesse Helms approach to shock the world with hate speech has proven to fail.

She too, shall leave her foolish mark of bigotry in the history books of this country. In the meantime, she gets attention and lines her pockets with the hate money that supports her.

“Most” are coming to their senses…they are not buying it anymore.
Applause for the “YOUNG REPUBLICANS”
Conservative does not mean HATE.

Top School

November 10th, 2012
10:49 am

“For almost 30+ years Jesse Helms was the conscience of the Republican Party” – Trent Lott R-Miss

Currently, is legacy lives on in Ann Coutler.
Hopefully in the next 30+ years this HATE will die off.

Private Citizen

November 10th, 2012
11:05 am

Meanwhile, French relief doctors come to the U. S. to render assistance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=76a_xfVm-ss

Fine with me if they do not give bandwidth to Coulter. She’d had plenty of it. Times may be changing and the approach of Rove and Coulter may be losing its sparkle.

Mitch

November 10th, 2012
11:06 am

I was born a Conservative Republican when Herbert Hoover was President and have been in the Party since. Over all those years we have enjoyed a pretty darned good party. However, over the past decade or so, a lot of very strange people have been trying to take over the GOP. This includes Ann Coulter and numerous talk show hosts. The Party must drive these weird folks out of the temple. They can still spew their hate speech but please do not claim to be a Republican while doing it.

John

November 10th, 2012
11:06 am

I’m a Republican and I’m against censorship. However, every day Ann Coulter does NOT have an audience is a good day for the Republican Party overall.

crankee-yankee

November 10th, 2012
11:09 am

indigo
November 10th, 2012
9:57 am

Jesuits have a long tradition of teaching people to think for themselves. Too many seem perfectly happy being told what to think by some self-professed expert (aka: Acid Ann) because it is easier than slogging through the messy process of thought. The response by the College Republicans is an excellent example of what a Jesuit education can produce. Well reasoned, reflective thought.

Grob Hahn

November 10th, 2012
11:24 am

It’s so obvious they caved to intolerant pressure and withdrew their invitation. Their letter was so pathetic. Instead of being outraged they are apologetic because their choice of speaker offended others at the school. That’s going to happen everywhere. We don’t prohibit David Duke, Rev Wright or Reuben Navarette from voicing their opinions in America. Protesting is one thing, threats are certainly another. If anything it’s a shame that testing their ideals will not happen because of so many who went against their ideals at a time when our true character is really measured. Just like the religious parents who decide that an abortion is the right move for their pregnant teen after years of decrying it as infanticide. I’m afraid the school failed and failed miserably. Who knew Jesuits were so intolerant? (For the record, I don’t care for Coulter either, but I tolerate her and respect her rights to her opinions. That’s America after all!)
Grobbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

Lee

November 10th, 2012
11:25 am

Interesting to read the diatribe by those who are supposedly against “hate speech” — and that’s just on this blog…

The inner workings of the politically correct mind never cease to amaze.

Dusty

November 10th, 2012
11:35 am

I’m sorry but Ann Coulter does not respresent the Republican party nor is she the only hateful speech person in America. .If you have forgotten the hate spelled out every day against George W. Bush while he was in office and still goes, I find it hard to see how some people can only see the vitriol done by one..

I don’t care for the style of Ann Coulter. But she is much like many in America. To single her out is hardly the American way of letting people decide for themselves who is right and who is wrong. Free speech may sojmetimes be demoralizing but it still gives the objectionable contrast that we sometimes need to hear. Fordham decided it would make those decision for its (incapable?) students.

Dusty

November 10th, 2012
11:38 am

May I ask why my comment was put in moderation?

indigo

November 10th, 2012
12:05 pm

craftee-yankee – 11:09

Religious people, including Jesuits, who believe the revealed and unerring word of God is what’s written in books(Old and New Testament) whose very authorship is unknown are hardly examples of those who “have a long tradition of teaching people to think for themselves”.

What they are is grownups whose mental maturity about religion is at the childish eight year-old level.

Dusty

November 10th, 2012
12:10 pm

Is this a school blog or a political blog?

Del Olds

November 10th, 2012
12:11 pm

Never a problem to rescind a conservative’s invitation to speak. I’ll bet that an invitation to Michael Moore or other liberal would not be rescinded not matter if there were objections. Typical.

Robin

November 10th, 2012
12:20 pm

This is so civilized. I approve all around.

chip

November 10th, 2012
12:26 pm

@ Maureen thanks for sharing the light and the heat

Phil from Athens

November 10th, 2012
12:31 pm

It’s sad that some universities will invite Iran’s terrorist leader yet reject Coulter. I guess freedom of speech is only free if you agree with brain dead left wingers.

indigo

November 10th, 2012
12:32 pm

Robin – 12:20

I’m sure your approval makes us all so happy we could just poop.

Phil from Athens

November 10th, 2012
12:35 pm

It’s funny to see left wingers call Ann the new Jesse Helms when just two years ago, the Democrat Party had a Grand Wizard in their party by the name of Robert Byrd.

Phil from Athens

November 10th, 2012
12:36 pm

“What they are is grownups whose mental maturity about religion is at the childish eight year-old level.”

I’m pretty sure Georgetown University, a Jesuit school, would disagree with you, troglodyte.

Phil from Athens

November 10th, 2012
12:40 pm

“If the college Republicans want to invite Acid Ann to speak, they can pay for her out of their own pockets and not use other people’s money to pay for her fees.”

Absolutely and that should happen with ANY group on a college campus with any group.

crankee-yankee

November 10th, 2012
12:46 pm

indigo
November 10th, 2012
12:05 pm

Quite the contrary, the Jesuit sect of Catholisism has generally been at odds with the traditional power structure of the Catholic Church and regularly engages in introspective study.

I heartily agree with your comment concerning the bible, a document created centuries after the facts from remembrances of acolytes, edited by man (do you know how many sources were rejected for inclusion of the Old & New Testaments?), translated by man and interpreted by man. It is not the word of God, rather our assumed best guess. The Jesuits are at the forefront of questioning what is in the Bible.

Be careful about lumping groups together, I could easily lump all Baptists together in a rant but do not, knowing there are wingnuts as well as very learned examples of those with that core belief.

Maureen Downey

November 10th, 2012
12:51 pm

@Dusty, Is this your first time posting here? All new posters go into moderation until I can review their comments.
Maureen

Sgt. Saunders

November 10th, 2012
12:52 pm

The Jesuits have become gutless stooges for the left. The Jesuits deny the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus Christ. Fordham is a phony Catholic institution. The Jesuits teach vapid ecumenism. The Jesuits would not have objected to Bill Maher or Chris Matthews or Al Sharpton or Howard Dean or Christopher Hitchens or Sandra Fluke from speaking at a Catholic institution like Fordham. Yet, Ann Coulter, is unacceptable. Why? Because she does not agree with Bayonce or Jay-Z or Morgan Freeman or Stephanie Cutter or Bob Beckel or the community organizer? Ann Colter is more of a Christian than the hyprocrites that teach at Fordham. As for the College Republicans, get a spine, you babies. America is crumbling from lack of morals and principles. Maybe you should name yourselves the Neville Chamberlain club.

Phil from Athens

November 10th, 2012
12:53 pm

“It is not the word of God, rather our assumed best guess.”

If that were true then Christianity would not have survived for over 2000 years. If the Bible were not the word of God then explain how Christianity has spread throughout the world?

“I could easily lump all Baptists together in a rant but do not, knowing there are wingnuts as well as very learned examples of those with that core belief.”

There are “wingnuts” in every religion.

Phil from Athens

November 10th, 2012
12:54 pm

Maureen, I’m really not sure what writing about Ann Coulter has to do with schools in GA. Could you please explain this one to me and others?

Top School

November 10th, 2012
12:55 pm

@Phil from Athens…

All bigotry …regardless of party… left… center or right…Democrat or Republican

Bigoted comments are cut from the same cloth.

“In the opinion of one reviewer, Byrd, along with other Southern and border state Democrats, came to realize that he would have to temper “his blatantly segregationist views” and move to the Democratic Party mainstream if he wanted to play a role nationally”

If all else fails, blame your religion.

Hidden…bigotry… eventually comes to the surface.
Most can detect its ugliness no matter how much one tries to cover it.

Phil from Athens

November 10th, 2012
12:55 pm

“Is this a school blog or a political blog?”

It’s been more of a political blog for the past week. It’s turing into a smaller version of Bookman’s blog minus the left wing nut jobs who live on welfare and blog all day.

indigo

November 10th, 2012
1:06 pm

Phil from Athens

Adult maturity and simple child-like faith are NOT compatable. Unfortunately, your years of childhood religious brainwashing make it next to impossible you’ll ever be able to either understand or accept this.

Maureen Downey

November 10th, 2012
1:09 pm

@Phil, Not sure how long you have been reading, but the blog, as the banner says, is about “education in Georgia and the nation.” Has been for years as regular readers can tell you. (You can read the archives on college-related topics.)
And higher ed is part of that discussion. We have had several discussions about speakers being banned from college campuses and free speech issues in general, including some involving lawsuits at Georgia campuses.
As to the poster wondering about whether the blog is about education or politics, you cannot separate the two, especially today.

Maureen

indigo

November 10th, 2012
1:11 pm

crankee-yankee

If the Jesuits were really “at odds with the traditional power structure of the Catholic Church”, they would have long since been excommunicated.

Like all strict Christian institutions, the Church is not known for it’s tolerance.

Top School

November 10th, 2012
1:11 pm

Opening for Ann Coulter…The KKK…
brought to the school by anonymous donations.

Have it your way…
Eventually, your evil will always be trumped with good.

There are still more good people in this world than bad.

Just stay tuned to FOX news and Donald Trump so you can get your daily fix …eventually there won’t be enough evil to spin and convince the young folks.

These OLD time shock THINKERS continue to use hate and fear to brainwash people in the “SHORT TERM”

Eventually, when exposed to rational thinkers… people come to their senses.

Seldom do you see people go from RATIONAL …LOVING …CARING… to bigoted and hateful.
It is usually the other way around.

Taught to hate…live to hate…and hopefully something intervenes before you die in hate.
Taught in love …live in love…and nothing usually will ever change LOVE.

Dawg '88

November 10th, 2012
1:13 pm

Funny many Catholic institutions don’t have a problem with inviting known supporters of the dismemberment of unborn children bu they do have an issue with Coulter. I find her abhorant alot as well. But….this is a double standard at its worst.

Sebelius was invited to Georgetown and the so-called president went to Notre Dame. Don’t recall “our values” being compromised at those places. Two faced rhetoric is appalling and dishonest.

Those two are unashamedly supportive of everything immoral about our country and yet its ok if they show up and speak. They are against religious freedom, traditional marriage set forthe by God and they are against keeping babies from having their skulls crushed and torn limb from limb.

What a load of hypocracy by this columnist, the school, its students, and this country as a whole. The immoral agenda is alive and well. Why do we have to accept your beliefs but you don’t have to accept mine.

God Help Us.

the so called president….is…The Abortion President. The national face of the Culture of Death. Hope your proud…thumbing our noses at God. Talk about disgusting.

Hillbilly D

November 10th, 2012
1:14 pm

If it had been me, I wouldn’t have invited her in the first place but once you extend the invite, you stick with it.

The whole paid speakers at colleges thing, is something that needs to be rethought in my opinion. It’s a racket.

Dawg '88

November 10th, 2012
1:15 pm

Top School….Opening for Obama wherever he speaks:

The ghost of Adolph Hitler and Margaret Sanger.

Maureen Downey

November 10th, 2012
1:16 pm

@Hillbilly, I agree on paid speakers. I also find it interesting that folks pay so much as many of the best speakers recycle their speeches. I have been surprised how often I have heard noted speakers repeat themselves in different venues. I would think that you could save the school $15,000 and let the students just watch it on YouTube.
Maureen

Top School

November 10th, 2012
1:22 pm

LOL not worth responding…
I think the post speaks for itself.

crankee-yankee

November 10th, 2012
1:25 pm

“There are “wingnuts” in every religion.”

Absolutely!

Hillbilly D

November 10th, 2012
1:25 pm

Well, Maureen, singers sing the same songs, comedians tell the same jokes, and speakers give the same speeches. It’s all show business.

Top School

November 10th, 2012
1:28 pm

I don’t believe in that GAWD.
Thank God.

No need it spending time responding trying to convert me.
Total waste of time … What ever you are worshiping…and whatever has brainwashed you it shows in the hate filled post made on this blog.

Skip…roll eyes to the left…neck roll…and skipping away as fast as I can down the yellow brick road….inside the bubble.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?