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Archive for April, 2008

Indiana University’s Jihad Against Free Speech – UPDATED

Posted by iusbvision on April 15, 2008

 

UPDATE – See Comments Section Below

Recently, IUPUI has come under fire for a violation of student’s rights regarding a book about the KKK. In a blatant intrusion upon the freedoms students and all citizens should enjoy, the administration punished a student for simply reading a book that made someone else feel uncomfortable. After hearing about this tragedy, I spoke with former Chief Justice Chuck Norton about  this event and others that have taken place on our own campus.

JB: Why was IUPUI’s action a violation of students’ rights?

CN: The details of the case are not in dispute. A student who was also a staff employee of the university is an avid reader. He was reading a history book about how the KKK decided to engage Notre Dame Students with violence in 1925 and the students at Notre Dame quite literally kicked the Klanners’ butts in what is likely the biggest street fight in the history of South Bend.

Apparently reading a true historical account of an important defeat of the Klan is “racial harassment” because a student/co-worker went to the affirmative action office and filed a complaint.

The affirmative action office, in a violation of the IU code of conduct, without looking at the legal definition of racial harassment, in a violation of IU judicial procedure, and in violation of federal case law, found him guilty of “racial harassment” without giving him any real chance to defend himself, or even knowing the name of his accuser. This very book, Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan sits in the IUSB Library.

This student contacted FIRE – The Foundation for Individual Rights and Education who moved swiftly to let IUPUI know what was going to come their way if the administration continued to behave in such an unlawful manner. The university backpedaled and is now in full “cover your backside” mode. I called the IUPUI Affirmative Action Office and they were not answering the phone and not returning messages or calls so apparently these people who are paid by the taxpayer believe that they are totally unaccountable to the public as well. The local media criticized IUPUI to their credit.


JB: In your time as Chief Justice, have you seen the university violate students’ rights here at IUSB? How did Judicial affairs handle those situations?

CN: There have been some cases where the university did the right thing, some cases where the university did the right thing after SGA members intervened and other cases where the university decided that it was going to break the law and dig in their heels.

JB: Can you provide any details about those cases?

CN: I was involved in defending students in several cases where they were falsely accused. In some cases Vice Chancellor Karen White intervened directly and did the right thing.

When the IUSB Vision was set up in a conspiracy between a professor who has a history of attempting to engage in censorship and a student with a mission to bring The Vision down Karen White got down to the bottom of it pretty fast and put a stop to it. White is no fool and is very capable of administering justice if she sets her mind to it.

There were other cases such as the proposed “bulletin board policy” that would have allowed the Director of Student Life to censor student speech that he found to be “potentially offensive” and last year’s SGA united and made it clear that not only would the students not stand for the policy, President Vigil and I advised the university that a federal lawsuit may have followed if the new policy was implemented. The university decided to do the right thing.

There were two cases where professors filed bogus charges of academic misconduct against students. I have little doubt that these students would have been railroaded and their academic careers destroyed if those students did not have access to someone like the SGA Chief Justice to help defend them.

The case that earned IUSB nationwide attention and shame has still not been fully resolved. A student was writing a series of articles about the Vagina Monologues. The student’s second article, which was a review of the content of the play, was an accurate description of the sexually explicit content of the play. IUSB graduates who were in the V-Club and performed the play went on the record to state that the content of the article was accurate. The student also interviewed members of the cast including V-Club advisor Prof. Smits. The student’s interview questions followed the themes and events which are highlighted in the play.

Members of the V-Club said in interviews that when they had received an advanced copy of the article that they objected to such an explicit description of the play’s content. The majority members of the V-Club including Prof. Smits decided to make a concerted effort to have the article suppressed. The evidence shows that Prof. Smits worked with Judicial Affairs Director Charlotte Pfeifer and others to manufacture bogus sexual misconduct, stalking and hazing charges against the student.  They solicited others to file bogus charges against the student. They also put pressure on The Preface Editor to not publish the article.

University rules, not to mention federal case law, do not permit the university to interfere with student publications in this manner. Yet the evidence shows that this is not the first time that the Office of Judicial Affairs has broken these rules.

Smits filed a complaint with Pfeifer’s office against the student. The complaint was ridiculous on its face. Smits pulled the “saucy” parts of the student’s questions out of the context of the play and its themes to make it look like the student was the dirty old man from 70’s hit comedy show Laugh-In. Her complaint tried to make it seem as if some guy just walked up to her and started asking probing sexual questions in an attempt to be lewd; in reality the questions all centered around the themes of the play, the content of the play and of literature in general.

Smits has taught literature and to say a great deal of published and revered literature is filled with sexual and lewd content is perhaps the understatement of the century, yet after performing in a play as sexually explicit as the Vagina Monologues is, her complaint would have you believe that she turned into a shrinking violet because someone asked questions about it.

The evidence shows that Smits and her accomplices claim the right to offend anyone they chose with the sexually explicit nature of the play, and yet claim the right to scream “I’m offended” and go after anyone who describes or questions their activities in detail.

SGA became involved in the case when a member of the faculty, who was well aware of what was happening and who will forever remain anonymous, asked the SGA Chief Justice to take action.

The evidence and witness statements show that not only did Pfeifer collude in bringing these bogus charges to bear; she did not give the exculpatory evidence that she was well aware of to the accused, and found him guilty of the charges.

President Vigil and I launched an investigation which yielded a great deal of exculpatory evidence. We advised Vice-Chancellor White and others about what the IU Code of Conduct and Federal law have to say about what had happened in this case. Our pleas fell on deaf ears.

We tried to handle the situation in house but the administration wouldn’t have it so the student filed an official appeal of Pfeifer’s decision and former President Vigil and I, with the support of President Blount, presented a defense brief outlining some of the evidence we had found in our investigation and a detailed explanation of the IU Code of Conduct and federal case law to the appeal commission judges which included two senior faculty members and a student.

The appeal hearing was very enlightening to put it mildly. The Office of Judicial Affairs presented a surprise witness in violation of IUSB’s own judicial procedures. We objected but the judges allowed the witness. Ironically under questioning their surprise witness substantiated the case for the defense.

The appeals hearing threw out the hazing and stalking charges but found the student guilty of sexual misconduct, when there was no conduct alleged, only constitutionally protected speech. The IUSB hearing judges and Pfeifer and White were presented with detailed explanations of Federal case law, the IU code and enough facts that left more than enough room for doubt and yet they made a choice to violate the rules and the law in finding this student guilty.

One of the judges even made statements indicating that for matters of that hearing, the law didn’t matter very much. At another meeting the same judge even told me in no uncertain terms, “good luck in finding a lawyer or group to take the case.” I appreciated that because the student ended up having plenty of luck.

At this point the student asked for high powered outside legal help and contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Students for Academic Freedom, and the ACLU, of which I am a member.

Students for Academic Freedom contacted the President of FIRE on the student’s behalf. FIRE, after conducting its own investigation, started advising and consulting with the ACLU. FIRE sent a gem of a legal “nasty gram” to Chancellor Reck. Reck referred the letter to IU legal and IU legal interpreted the IU Code and Federal case law correctly in its response saying, “the University erred in trying to address these issues through a disciplinary process. The Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct is designed to address behavior (i.e., conduct) and not speech. The charges filed against you should have been dismissed at the outset on that distinction.”

One administration member told me, “judicial affairs has egg on its face and it was published nationwide” and made it clear that things could happen which I interpreted as some form of retaliation.

After FIRE got involved and published what was happening to this student on its web site more people and evidence came forward which is being saved if needed. If and when this case comes to further legal action my advice would be to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth because the administration is not aware of just how much new evidence we have.

The aftermath has had its ups and downs. On the upside FIRE and the ACLU are watching IUSB very closely to put it mildly. There are members of the administration who are appalled at what has been happening in judicial affairs and have been acting with conscience.

On the down side IUSB refuses to investigate itself on the abuses of the system committed by Pfeifer, Smits and others who abused this student. IUSB has refused to clear this student’s record of this nonsense. IUSB sent out letters to other members of the administration and some school deans stating that this student is guilty of sexual misconduct, to the best of my knowledge new letters have not been sent out clearing his name. Professors are stating that they have been “warned” about this student, most likely as a result of those letters.

The university retaliated against SGA President Blount. He was fired from his job in student services and he has children to feed. He was told that it was due to “budget cuts”, however an examination of those budgets by those who are in the know say otherwise. Others who are in a position to know have stated that Blount’s status as a student was threatened. They also say that the administration has threatened to remove funding from the SGA. I know that Blount was so frightened that he was pressured to lie about some of the facts about the investigation in an attempt to undermine it and assault the credibility of the student [accused], former President Vigil and myself. Blount is a good man at heart and came clean when confronted on this.  FIRE has made it clear that it stands ready to take action on Blount’s behalf should he so wish it.

I have been also made aware that some in the administration sought to take some action against me but decided otherwise because I have the means, resources and will to fight back and win. If they had retaliated I am confident that the depositions and discovery process would prove to be quite amusing.

JB:  In your opinion as Chief Justice, is the university looking to protect the rights of students on this campus?

CN: The simple truth is that most universities could care less about a freedom of speech and conscience. They all pay lip service to it, but a simple examination of FIRE’s web site in the complaints section shows that this problem is rampant across universities nationwide and what happened at IUPUI is merely one of the latest examples.

Across the nation there are more cases of students and professors being persecuted for constitutionally protected speech, falsely denied tenure, grades lowered for political reasons, anti-Semitic bias, and forced political indoctrination than I can count.  Most of the time they get away with these abuses because students don’t know how to defend themselves.

There are three film documentaries that bring light to this issue. “Indoctrinate U” is excellent. Magicians Penn & Teller did an episode on their Showtime program on this issue and famed actor, comedian, writer, and financial genius Ben Stein has made a documentary called “Expelled” which opens in theatres April 18.

As far as IUSB, Judicial Affairs is so structurally flawed that unless someone intervenes to make it fair, the student has almost no chance of a fair and impartial hearing. For example – let’s say that a professor makes an accusation against a student. It is Pfeifer’s job to be impartial, collect all the evidence both damning and exculpatory and lay it all out on the table for all to see and to make a judgment.  That judgment can be appealed to the vice-chancellor, to a hearing commission, sometimes the student affairs committee can get involved and it can be appealed to the chancellor.

Here is why that system is flawed. Pfeifer has told me to my face that a student’s word is never as good as a professors’. She has told others that as well. So if it’s “he said she said” then the student is guilty. There is no genuine benefit of the doubt.   Since the student has no resources to investigate and demand cooperation and Pfeifer and the professors do, the damning evidence is highlighted, the exculpatory is not and the student for all practical purposes is guilty until the student proves themselves innocent and is given almost no resources to do so.

So let’s say the student appeals to the hearing commission. Even in spite of solid evidence and law all of the assumptions went against the student in the case outlined above. Most of the benefit of the doubt went to Pfeifer and the professor.

Why is this? Academia has a culture that exacerbates this problem. Professors of course have a PhD. Most really believe that they and their peers are the smartest people they know. Most of them have enough similarity in their cultural and political views that for many they pat each other on the back, tell each other how brilliant they are, and after all it must be true because all of these brilliant PhD’s say so right? This environment leads to a culture where people stop challenging their own assumptions. They have made an assumption or a charge therefore it must be true.

This is precisely the kind of thinking I have run into time and time again in helping students fend off bogus charges. There are those who are more careful thinkers and will even challenge their own assumptions that sometimes get on these hearing commissions, but in the end they have to work with their peers and say hello to a vice-chancellor every morning; so all of the peer pressure goes against the professor chosen as judge. So who is inclined to go against the tide? “After all we have to work with these people,” I was told by one professor on a key committee who is sympathetic to students who have gone through this process. Students come and go, careers are almost forever.

If someone in the office of judicial affairs has an axe to grind against you or goes along with a misguided professor who does, the way judicial affairs is conducted becomes nothing short of Nixonian.

What every university needs in an ombudsman with real investigative power whose job is to help defend the accused almost no matter what, to balance this structural unfairness out. This ombudsman cannot be someone who goes to the same restaurants and cocktail parties as the rest of the faculty and administration. The peer pressure on the ombudsman has to be removed as much as possible.

JB: If a student feels that their rights have been violated, what course of action would you recommend? Are there any third party organizations that specialize in the protection of students’ rights?

CN: Contact me. I am willing to help any student with their defense. Get copies of not only the student code of conduct, but the actual judicial and appeals procedures as well and have a professor or a lawyer friend help you go through them so you understand them. They may try to use not so subtle intimidation tactics against you so give an appearance of confidence.  Another tactic is to escalate the charges if you make it clear that you won’t go quietly, so expect that.

Professors can be unreasonable for the reasons mentioned above. Talk to that professor’s supervisors. You might get lucky and that professor has a boss who is willing to risk conflict with a professor. It is rare but I have seen it happen.

Don’t incriminate yourself. Anything you say can and may be taken out of context and used against you. Find representation of some kind to go with you and make sure that representation is not someone who is going to be intimidated themselves. Sometimes talking to the SGA can help – but keep in mind that members of the SGA can sometimes be successfully intimidated as well. Some on the SGA are like politicians and won’t do anything unless there is a benefit for them.

Demand that the IUSB office of Judicial Affairs give you all of the exculpatory evidence. If you don’t get it, you know something is afoot.

Don’t be afraid to call the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (www.thefire.org) and talk to someone. While they cannot take on all cases, at least you can get some great advice at a minimum.


JB: Thank you for your time and for your perseverance working to fight for the rights of students on this campus.

 

Jarrod Brigham

 

Posted in Campus Freedom, Indoctrination & Censorship, Other Links | 17 Comments »

Three Reasons Christians Don’t Need Scientific “Proof” of God

Posted by iusbvision on April 15, 2008

 Reason #1: Historical Evidences Strongly Verify The Existence, The Teachings and the Miracles Performed by Jesus


This argument was illustrated well by Josh McDowell:

“Many people try to put off personal commitment to Christ by voicing the assumption that if you cannot prove something scientifically, it is not true
or worthy of acceptance. Since one cannot prove scientifically the Deity of Jesus or the Resurrection, the twentieth-century individual should know better than to accept Christ as Savior or to believe in the resurrection…


…There is a problem of proving about a person or event in history. We need to understand the difference between scientific proof and what I call
legal-historical proof…

…Scientific proof is based on showing something is a fact by repeating the event in the presence of the person questioning the fact. There is a controlled environment where observations can be made, data drawn, and hypotheses empirically verified…


…Now if the scientific method was the only method of proving something, you couldn’t prove that you went to your first hour class this morning or that you had lunch today. There’s no way you can repeat those events in a controlled situation…

…legal-historical proof [is when]… a verdict is reached on the basis of the weight of evidence… it depends upon three types of testimony: oral
testimony, written testimony, and exhibits… Using the legal method of what happened, you could pretty well prove beyond a reasonable doubt that
you were in class this morning: your friends saw you, you have your notes, the professor remembers you.”

– Josh McDowell, *More Than a Carpenter*, 1977

To avoid length summarizing the following chapter McDowell illustrates how the
New Testament “has more manuscript authority than any piece of literature from antiquity… one can conclude that an authentic New Testament text has been established…”

He also points out a comment from a trained individual of historical investigation named Will Durant who stated, “…that a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic, and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outlines of the life,
character and teachings of Christ remain reasonably clear, and constitute fascinating feature in the history of Western Man.”

As a third illustration of verifiability, he quotes Dr. Clark H. Pinnock, a professor of systematic theology at Regent College who states, “There exists no document from the ancient world witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies, and offering so superb an array of historical data on which an intelligent decision may be made. An honest [person] cannot dismiss a source of this kind. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational [i.e., anti-supernatural] bias.”

This is only a portion of his illustrations, his discussion regarding these conclusions is extensive and I would recommend reading them before
discrediting them.

An Online Recommended Reading of Historical New Testament Evidences:

http://www.foolishfaith.com/book_chap7.asp

Reason # 2: Christian’s have been Personal Witnesses to the Transforming Power of Believing in Christ and his Teachings.

One needs to look no further than any born again Christian who transformed
their lives from drug addiction, alcohol addiction, sex or lust addiction and experienced the saving power and grace of the Holy Spirit or the everyday Christian who has found happiness and joy. These transformations do not always occur overnight but many Christians can illustrate to you just when they became a Christian because a powerful transformation of the desires of their heart took place when they accepted Christ.

One should be careful not to dismiss this idea as a “spiritual high”. The Christian often doesn’t receive a wondrous feeling of euphoria but finds their mind being convicted things they ought and ought not be doing. The spirit gives an individual the ability to communicate and consult God on questions about life, troubles and their own personal vices.

One strongly recommended reading for any individual who does not fully understand how Christ can transform the heart of man ought to read a book entitled Impossible Joy where a man struggling with sex and lust addiction who was “religious” his whole life found out he never had a relationship with Christ and later in his life actually accepted Christ into his heart and brought him through one of the most incredible transformations and freedoms from his struggle.

Reason # 3: Every Semi-coherent Ethical Doctrine Attempted Apart from Christ Uses His Teachings.

It ought to be pointed out that when the majority of individuals are asked how individuals ought to behave their response on unethical behaviors lands near the Ten Commandments and illustrates it should be interpreted with the Golden Rule, “treat others the way you want to be treated” in mind. Brilliant as it is, Christ summarized all of his teachings with that commandment.

“Jesus replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

– Matthew 22:37-40

Ironically, the first commandment can be conveniently ignored by other ethical doctrines. If you read deep into each and every attempt at ethics apart from God and other systems that attempt to establish laws and moral codes, you will find that each one tries to communicate how to “love your neighbor as you love yourself” without Christ’s help.

Given that Christ established the foundation of all attempts at a godless ethic Himself 2000 years ago, given his philosophical conception of an unthinkable, unimaginable system by which to consult and lean on God through the Holy Spirit, given the continued existence of one of the most incredible historically accurate testaments to his teachings on how to follow that ethic and given the witnessing that many people still are and continue to be miraculously transformed by Christ and his teachings – believing in him, and who this simple carpenter from Nazareth claimed to be is not too difficult of a leap to make without scientific “proof” of the existence of God.

 

Craig Chamberlin

 

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Presidential Candiates Want Us To Pay $5.00 Per Gallon

Posted by iusbvision on April 15, 2008

For the first time in my lifetime, I have actually heard a political campaign ad for a Presidential primary on the local stations. Since this opportunity comes along once in a blue moon, I have been paying close attention to these ads.

The ad that has captured my attention most has been from Barak Obama. In one ad, Barak Obama proclaims that Exxon Mobile made over 40 billion dollars in profit last year while we are paying over three dollars a gallon at the pump.    

It is no great secret that Exxon Mobile made around 40 billion dollars in profit last year. While those are larger numbers than any of us will ever see, it is Obama’s plan to fix the situation that caught my attention. He states that it is his intention to create a Windfall Profits penalty for the oil companies. He is not the only one, Hillary Clinton and has made similar statements on the campaign trail.

Senator Clinton said “I want to take those [Exxon Mobile’s] profits and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund”. Here are two examples of political candidates punishing business for being successful.

Like everyone else, I too am not a fan of paying $60.00 to fill my tank up, but taxing the oil companies is not the answer. Before anyone gets on the bandwagon to punish Exxon Mobile, remember that Exxon Mobile employs over 80,000 workers. When businesses have profits, they expand which creates more jobs. When their profits dry up, the downsize. A vote for Obama or Clinton is a vote to take away American jobs.

There is also something to be said about punishing success. Follow this logic: Our economy runs on the strength of the American business community. Americans have money to spend on products when they have jobs. Americans have jobs when businesses can afford to hire them. When Americans get hired they then have money to buy goods and services, creating more work for the workers, and the great circle of wealth is complete.

Did anyone see the government mentioned in that scenario? No, because the government only gets in the way. If the Windfall Profits penalty gets passed, as Senators Clinton and Obama are clamoring for, it will hurt businesses.

Now, look at the same situation with government interference. First, government taxes the businesses, which creates less money for the business to invest. This means there is less money to hire new employees and may even require downsizing in order keep the bottom line in good shape. No successful business will sacrifice profits, unless it wants to go bankrupt. Now there are less jobs available, which means there are less people able to buy goods, which again makes less money for the business and the circle continues.

Of course, there is another solution for Exxon, they can always absorb the Windfall Profit penalty and pass it directly onto the customer. Under no circumstances do business pay taxes. They never have and they never will. Taxes always get passed onto the consumer. Businesses do not pay taxes, consumers do. Obama’s and Hillary’s plans to tax the oil companies is really a plan to give us another tax.

Thanks a lot.

Jarrod Brigham

 

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Where Parental Rights End

Posted by iusbvision on April 15, 2008

A recent story out of Weston, Wisconsin brings up a debate between a child’s right to medical treatment and a parent’s right to practice religion.

Madeline Neumann, an 11-year old girl died when her parents prayed for her healing, rather than seek out medical help for a treatable form of diabetes. Reportedly, the cause of death was diabetic ketoacidosis, which left her body with too little insulin, and she was probably ill for about 30 days. She would have been experiencing noticeable symptoms, such as, nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness.

The parents reported to police that they felt she died because “apparently they didn’t have enough faith.” The parents in this case felt that praying was a better option than taking their daughter to the doctor. It is reported that the parents do not attend an organized church or participate in organized religion.

There are three other children in the home aged 13-16, which the Sheriff didn’t remove, because “there is no reason to remove them. There is no abuse or signs of abuse that we can see.”

The definition of abuse and neglect for Wisconsin is listed below, from the childwelfare.gov website:

Physical Abuse

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.02

Abuse means any of the following:

Physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means.

When used in referring to an unborn child, serious physical harm inflicted on the unborn child, and the risk of serious physical harm to the child when born, caused by the habitual lack of self-control of the expectant mother of the unborn child in the use of alcohol beverages, controlled substances, or controlled substance analogs, exhibited to a severe degree.

Physical injury includes, but is not limited to, lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe or frequent bruising, or great bodily harm.

Neglect

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.981

Neglect means failure, refusal, or inability on the part of a parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person exercising temporary or permanent control over a child, for reasons other than poverty, to provide necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care, or shelter so as to seriously endanger the physical health of the child.

There are obviously no signs of abuse in this particular incident, but there appears to be clear evidence of neglect, based upon the Wisconsin statute. The parents, who were in control of the child, failed and/or refused to provide necessary medical care, which seriously endangered the physical health of the child, which resulted in her death. Mr. Sheriff, you have more than enough grounds to remove the other children from the home. Also, Mr. or Mrs. Prosecutor, these individuals need to be fully prosecuted. If one of these other children would happen to die or encounter serious endangerment of their physical health, it will be the State of Wisconsin at fault for failing to act.

Does a parent’s rights to practice their religion, trump a child’s right to safety and medical treatment? The answer is no. Freedom of religion is one of the many things that makes this country great. However, when a right, causes a law to be broken and a child to die, the parents should not have that right. The statute in the state of Wisconsin clearly states that failing or refusing to provide the child with proper medical care, which results in the child’s physical health being endangered, is Neglect.

While the power of prayer is a great thing, there are also medical professionals that are trained and able to ensure the health of the child. There is absolutely nothing wrong with prayer, but prayer without the parents acting is the problem. From all reports, if the parents would have acted, the child would still be here.

The State of Wisconsin needs to ensure that the other children in the custody of these parents are in good health as well. They don’t necessarily need to remove them, but they need to get them to medical professionals to ensure that they are in good health.

Also, this is a call to all citizens, if you suspect child abuse or neglect, you need to contact your local Child Protective Service agency or Law Enforcement Agency. In Indiana, the number is 800-800-5556. If you suspect it and it is not true, then you have done nothing wrong. If you suspect it and don’t report it, you could be charged with a misdemeanor. In the case in Wisconsin, if someone would have made authorities aware of the situation, hopefully, someone would have forced the parents to take the child to the doctor and this horrible tragedy wouldn’t have occurred.

Larry Browning

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