TAKE that, Academy!
Seven-hundred fifty words, arguing that the First Amendment, if properly interpreted (that is, if interpreted according to George Eff Will, not legal precedent) guarantees the right of private groups to behave as they see fit, even under the aegis of Vanderbilt University, without restriction.
Six-hundred eighty words before we get around to mentioning that Vanderbilt University is, itself, a private institution.
I'm not going to waste time typing "George Will is intellectually dishonest". * George Eff Will has clearly demonstrated, and more than once, that he would short-change a blind street merchant.
Time and place of public expression. If you don't understand that this is a major philosophical stumbling block in the history of the First, then you're unqualified to even discuss it. Vanderbilt has as much right to control the terms of operation of its student groups as an employer has to control the distribution of Communist literature in his parking lot.** End of discussion. How is this even relevant?
Although Vanderbilt is a private institution, its policy is congruent with “progressive” public policy, under which society shall be made to progress up from a multiplicity of viewpoints to a government-supervised harmony. Vanderbilt’s policy, formulated in the name of enlarging rights, is another skirmish in the progressives’ struggle to deny more and more social entities the right to deviate from government-promoted homogeneity of belief. Such compulsory conformity is, of course, enforced in the name of diversity.
So Vanderbilt, which doesn't actually qualify, is here as a stand-in for the thousands of "progressive" right-think conformity farms--I'm sure George Eff will get around to listing them in due time--which are clearly violating the First Amendment, not to mention the Special "Conservative" Intellectual prohibition against Actions Which Can Be Described Ironically.
Okay, George. We'll untangle this for you. Follow along closely; it's real confusing.
Vanderbilt, which is a private institution of higher learning (though that private/public distinction really just obscures the principle rather than illuminating it), sponsors, as most such institutions do, student and community organizations. And, as any such institution which sponsors such organizations and isn't run by absolute morons, Vanderbilt requires those organizations to meet its guidelines. (Which, not to interject too much fact at once, none of these put-upon religious groups has done yet, and which, as a result, they've been given provisional approval to operate anyway. Throw off your Chains!)
This is, in fact, enough to close the argument for sensible people, but here we are required to go further. The fact that the Court has upheld the right of some St. Patrick's Day Parade assholes to be bigoted assholes under the First Amendment , or of the Boy Scouts to restrict molesters in their ranks to the avowed heterosexual type, is beside the point. Those are free association issues. Like the California case which you find so baffling, Vanderbilt doesn't restrict what individuals or organizations believe, or say; it restricts what organizations can do and still get official recognition. The Association of Bible-Believin' Students can say or think whatever it pleases; it cannot discriminate against gay Vanderbilt students and qualify for rent-free meeting space or on-campus fundraising, or whatever else Vanderbilt--and any public institution, for that matter--makes available to them under the rules.
Is this really hard to understand? Free speech is not license, but the law has tended to protect it short of risk to public safety or reasonable restrictions on time and place (including the right of property holders to permit or deny speech at their whim). The Boy Scouts can keep out the gays, Bob Jones University can keep out the the coloreds, and the Washinton Post can bar the ethical. They cannot do so with public monies, because the public has wide-ranging, but not total, rights against discrimination. Homophobes can march down the streets of Boston the way Nazis can march through Skokie. They can start a private club and get together to rub dicks without allowing gays in. They cannot open a public boiled meat and vegetable emporium and discriminate against large classes of customers. Is this really that tough to understand? A public university is not required to let anyone at all attend classes. And it's not required to give official recognition to the Jesus Hates Fags Alliance.
You'd think, really, that the nation's Last Remaining Mediocre 19th Century Mind would recall that his own religious sect was discriminated against in just this fashion a mere century ago, and that it is a belated response to all such practices--and especially non-citizenship for women and partial personhood for non-whites--which informs this today. Too bad that some people prefer to live in an earlier, more hate-filled time. They're sure entitled. But they're not entitled to require everyone else set his clock back to accommodate them.
All this is standard George Will Reds in the State Department/ Fluoride in the Water Supply As Updated for the Reagan Era babble. Didn't Will essentially become The Leading Conservative Intellectual thirty years ago with his groundbreaking monograph "PC Campus Goons vs. Free Speech"? I'd'a just moved right along, but for this:
Here, however, is how progressivism limits freedom by abolishing the public-private distinction: First, a human right — to, say, engage in homosexual practices — is deemed so personal that government should have no jurisdiction over it. Next, this right breeds another right, to the support or approval of others. Finally, those who disapprove of it must be coerced.
Sound familiar? It should. First, abortion should be an individual’s choice. Then, abortion should be subsidized by government. Next, pro-life pharmacists who object to prescribing abortifacients should lose their licenses. Thus do rights shrink to privileges reserved for those with government-approved opinions.
Because, y'know, there's lying cupidity, there's partisan shit-slinging, and there's politically-motivated haberdashery, and then there's the idea that, alone among licensed professionals pharmacists should have the right to deny proper medical care to citizens they don't agree with--and in this single instance, of course--We're not saying a druggist should refuse cramp medicine to an unclean woman!--which is the stupidest thing anybody but Jonah Goldberg has ever said.
* Unplanned praeteritio, hence exempt from the requirement of a warning sticker.
** But not Guns & Ammo, not in Indiana. Oh, the publication, probably. Just not real guns and real ammo.