Campus Free Speech

College Claims a Reference to a 129-Year-Old Riot Is a Threat

Academic contempt for free expression, chapter CCXXXV

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The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reports:

DON'T MAKE ME GO LOUIS LINGG ON YOUR GALA, PEG LEE!

Oakton Community College (OCC) is insisting that a one-sentence "May Day" email referencing the Haymarket Riot sent by a faculty member to several colleagues constituted a "true threat" to the college president….

"Merely noting to one's colleagues that May Day is a time when workers 'remember' the Haymarket Riot does not constitute a 'true threat,'" said Ari Cohn, a Senior Program Officer and lawyer with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). "The United States Department of the Interior has designated the Haymarket Martyrs' Monument a National Historic Landmark. If remembering the Haymarket Riot is a 'true threat,' the monument itself would be illegal."

On May 1, Chester Kulis sent an email to OCC colleagues that read, "Have a happy MAY DAY when workers across the world celebrate their struggle for union rights and remember the Haymarket riot in Chicago." The email, titled "May Day—The Antidote to the Peg Lee Gala," was written in response to a reception hosted by OCC in celebration of the retirement of college president Margaret B. Lee….In response to Kulis's email, an attorney representing OCC wrote a cease-and-desist letter to Kulis on May 7, arguing that Kulis's reference to the Haymarket Riot was a threat of violence because the famous workers' rally in Chicago "resulted in 11 deaths and more than 70 people injured."

FIRE notes that Kulis has a history of highlighting "the perceived mistreatment of adjunct faculty members through his role with the Adjunct Faculty Association." Evidently, Oakton officials thought he was threatening to disrupt the reception with a riot—or found it convenient to pretend that they thought that.

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  1. That email completely ruined May Day. Also, what the fuck is May Day?

    1. “Hooray, Hooray, the First of May!
      Outdoor [*loving] starts today!”

      [* = your verb may vary]

    2. May Day is when you leave little baskets of flowers on someone’s steps and ring the doorbell and run away. Then they have to catch you and kiss you or something. Something about a May Pole too, I think.
      That’s what I thought it was before I learned about all the commie shit.

    3. May Day is the day when we celebrate the God-given sacrosanct right for unions to beat up immigrant scab laborers and set non-union factories on fire.

      1. You forgot the ritual “Purchase of the Legislators”.

      2. I like mine better.

    4. Apparently, it’s just like any other weekend in Chicago.

    5. Also, what the fuck is May Day?

      Clearly, you’re not a worker.

    6. It’s basically the international communists’ version of Christmas; their most holy day of the year.

      Someone on the phone I was talking to for business actually wished my a “Happy May Day” this year. Unfortunately, I couldn’t resist the urge to laugh.

    7. It’s a more fun version of Labor day.

  2. I love it when progs who are being eaten by their own kind need libertarian organizations to come to their rescue.

    1. Professional courtesy.

  3. On the one hand, I’m happy that the left is cannibalizing itself. On the other hand, I’m happy that the left is cannibalizing itself.

    1. It’s nice to see a communist lying in the bed he’s been trying to make in a way, but, unfortunately, the left isn’t only cannibalizing itself. It’s eating our rights, too.

      If there’s a Christian cultural influence on libertarianism, it’s the part where we stick up for the free speech rights of communists–who would march me up against the wall if they could.

      1. If there’s a Christian cultural influence on libertarianism, it’s the part where we stick up for the free speech rights of communists–who would march me up against the wall if they could.

        I stick up for the free speech rights of communists for no other reason than my desire to remain intellectually consistent. Christ, nor Zeus, visited me in my dreams to tell me to take that approach.

        1. A few minutes ago, you were happy to see the left cannibalizing themselves–no matter that the rights they’re violating are ours too–and now you’re being intellectually consistent?

          Funny how vindictive people can be–right up until someone mentions Christianity. Then, suddenly, they remember they’re supposed to be intellectually consistent.

          1. One can stand up for everyone’s rights while still enjoying a little schadenfreude at the expense of the progtards who got themselves into this mess.

            1. Is that what was happening here?

              “On the one hand, I’m happy that the left is cannibalizing itself. On the other hand, I’m happy that the left is cannibalizing itself.”

              Isn’t the point of this to suggest that there is no downside to the left violating each other’s rights?

              My point is that there is a downside. Those are my rights they’re violating, too. Seems pretty central to libertarianism–as well as some other traditions. In Jesus’ formulation, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”.

              When everyone feels that way, it’ll be on earth like it is in heaven–Libertopia.

              1. Yes Ken, I am glad that the left is attacking itself because of it’s own inconsistency. As far as your butthurt is concerned, I don’t care. I often forget what a tiny little man you are. I’ll try to remember before I engage with you again.

  4. A riot is an ugly thing…….

    1. +1 wooden appendage

  5. He should have prefaced the letter with a trigger warning.

  6. Pfft – everyone knows that the reason you pay adjuncts jack shit is so that they’re too feeble to riot effectively. Get with the program, OCC!

  7. So will the fact that FIRE is defending a supporter of May Day stop all of these FIRE critics from claiming they’re just a stealth conservative organization that hates progressives? Or will this just be memory holed?

    1. Memory holed, without any doubt of that whatsoever.

    2. “Or will this just be memory holed?”

      That dogone Reagan emptied the insane asylums, right?

      “One of the most influential groups in bringing about the new national policy was the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health, an independent body set up by Congress in 1955. One of its two surviving members, Dr. M. Brewster Smith, a University of California psychologist who served as vice president, said the commission took the direction it did because of ”the sort of overselling that happens in almost every interchange between science and government.”
      http://www.nytimes.com/1984/10…..began.html

      Wanna know how often I’ve linked that?

  8. When you think about it, the whole idea of May Day is triggering to air travel crash survivors. And while we’re on it, any reference to riots is triggering to those who had suffered the trauma of have “Come On Feel the Noise” as their prom theme.

  9. The email, titled “May Day?The Antidote to the Peg Lee Gala,” was written in response to a reception hosted by OCC in celebration of the retirement of college president Margaret B. Lee

    Large shindigs featuring the top brass are another May Day tradition, albeit not quite as old. Maybe he would have been happier if the faculty and student highstepped in formation past the parade stands to show their appreciation for her service.

    1. That might also be construed as a threat, as it is traditional to bring a tank to such parades.

      1. And nuclear missiles mounted on mobile launchers.

  10. Kulis has a history of highlighting “the perceived mistreatment of adjunct faculty members through his role with the Adjunct Faculty Association.

    When I think “victims of oppression” adjunct faculty members are right at the top of the list.
    Having said that, just imagine what would happen if he had sent out an e-mail urging people to celebrate the 4th of July
    OMFG they’re planning to REVOLT!!!1

    1. I sent out a “Merry Christmas” email to people at work and was chastised for my obvious support of violent crucifixions.

    2. TEA BAGLICANS! They’re going to toss their pre-order copies of FO4 into the bay!

    3. There was a huge flamewar on Bleeding heart Liberatarians a short while back when one of the writers basically said that adjuncts are paid shit because there are too many and that most could get better jobs at Geico and the push of TT position would not benefit adjuncts as a whole – the universities would simply open a tiny number of extra TT positions and dump the rest of the adjuncts into unemployment.

      http://bleedingheartlibertaria…..i-adjunct/

    1. That show consistently makes me laugh.

      Kinane is a pretty good stand-up as well.

  11. Sometimes a riot is just a pool party.

    1. Slow clap.

  12. We used to face palm and shake our heads at stories like this that came out of the USSR and then thank God and our founders that we didn’t live in a totalitarian shit hole.

    Something about a tree and liberty. I think we forgot how that goes.

    1. Something about a tree and liberty. I think we forgot how that goes.

      “Sometimes a bureaucrat takes a big piss on the Tree of Liberty.” I think.

    2. something about periodic watering for best results.

  13. Being reminded of a riot is just like having been victimized in an actual riot, so I can see why the woman was scared. You know, soldiers returning from war zones get PTSD sometimes so it’s not surprising she had such a reaction.

    1. If they had mentioned the Battle of Hastings she would probably have dissolved into a puddle – so she dodged a bullet there.

      Oops.

  14. Even rioters were better dressed back then.

    1. It is interesting how much of what we consider fancy clothes today were just clothes 100 years ago. I guess we are all walking around in our underwear.

      1. Well, when people go to the grocery store and fly on planes in pajamas…

  15. The head of an academic institution cannot fathom that a reference to the Haymaker Riots can have many interpretations.

    I wonder how she did in high-school literature and history classes.

    Well, she does work at a community college if that’s any indication of her academic prowess.

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