Due Process

Texas Christian University Suspended Student for Saying Dumb Things on Facebook

An administrator treated his apology as a confession. There was no trial.

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TCU
Easal22

Harry Vincent, a student at Texas Christian University, was disciplined after someone—presumably a non-student—complained to TCU administrators about his comments on social media. A TCU official then accused Vincent of "infliction of bodily or emotional harm," instructed him to write a letter explaining how he should be punished, and ultimately suspended him.

Vincent's sentence extends until graduation. He is allowed to attend classes in the fall, but may not participate in extracurricular activities. He must serve 60 hours of community service and take an "Issues in Diversity" course. He is forbidden from living on campus.

What did Vincent do? He tweeted some unkind remarks about Baltimore residents and Muslims. Specifically, he referred to the "hoodrat criminals in Baltimore" and told someone to "chill the fuck out you islamic shit head." A Tumblr user named Kelsey, who does not attend TCU, posted screenshots of his comments and implored others to report him to TCU's Campus Life department. A number of Tumblr users, including Kelsey herself, did so.

Later, Kelsey reported that TCU Associate Dean of Campus Life Glory Z. Robinson had written her back and promised to "address this situation."

The very next day, on April 29, 2015, Robinson sent Vincent a letter accusing him of violating the student code. He was accused of "infliction of bodily or emotional harm" and "disorderly conduct." He was told to write a letter of apology and propose possible sanctions for himself. He complied.

After receiving his apology, Robinson notified Vincent that she had found him guilty, in part based on his own "written statements."

Unsurprisingly, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has taken issue with virtually all aspects of TCU's handling of the case. Ari Cohn, an attorney and program officer at FIRE, noted that although TCU is a private institution—and thus not bound to follow the First Amendment—the university has made a promise to respect its students' free speech rights. An empty promise, evidently:

"If the TCU administration is willing to punish its students every time they offend someone on the Internet, TCU students should be very afraid," said Cohn. "That TCU would sacrifice its students' free speech and due process rights to appease a social media mob betrays where its priorities lie—with its public relations department, not its students' fundamental rights."

It's worth noting that as far as FIRE can tell, none of the people who complained about Vincent's comments were actually TCU students. But even if they had been, it's grossly inappropriate for administrators to pretend that the use of crass language on the internet is equivalent to disorderly conduct.

Equally galling is Robinson's complete lack of respect for due process. It looks like she not only suspended him without a hearing, she entrapped him by demanding that he apologize.

FIRE has vowed to use "all resources at our disposal" if TCU does not immediately drop Vincent's punishment.

I should add that I personally find Vincent's remarks distasteful. But speech is sometimes nasty—and even nasty speech can serve a productive role in dialogue on college campuses. Challenging Vincent's views of Muslims could in fact be a useful exercise for all. But formally punishing him is an act of pure censorship that puts everyone's rights in danger.

NEXT: University of Cincinnati Cop Ray Tensing Indicted in Murder of Samuel Dubose

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  1. A Tumblr user named Kelsey,

    Do you think Kelsey planned to grow up to be a goose stepping fascist quisling or did it just kind of work out that way?

    1. She doesn’t have time to muse on such things while she’s sprinting to her safe room. I wonder whether she puts her iPad in the freezer when things get too intense for her.

    2. These people don’t think, they emote. Without thinking, planning is basically impossible.

      1. These people don’t think, they emote

        And, write. Well, whinge, really.

        What a miserable cunt. Must want some company, it would seem.

  2. There is only one response to demands from some shithead who doesn’t actually have authority over you even when they are trying to assert it because of some tangential relationship:

    Go. Fuck. Yourself.

  3. Hey Kelsey: chill the fuck out you tumblr shit head

    1. How long before Kelsey, whoever he or she is, is over at Salon or Vox crying about the “death threats” and “cyber bullying” that resulted from this?

      1. Salon and Vox are already extending overtures her way. In the form of totally for real legitimate omg calling the police guys rape and death threats.

  4. I should add that I personally find Vincent’s remarks distasteful.

    No, you shouldn’t. It has absolutely no bearing on the story whatsoever.

    1. Why is there a big spotlight with the outline of a cocktail glass on Robby’s roof?

    2. SOSHULL SIGNALLLYNGGGGG FTW!

    3. Sullum always seems to be good at divorcing himself from any such personal qualifications when writing about a story. But Rico is from a generation where you have to make your beliefs known or your outrage-junky contemporaries will assume otherwise and skewer you.

      1. They’ll assume otherwise anyway and skewer you for having the temerity to question whether a student deserves having his life upended over a few colorful opinions. They make no assumptions of good faith, so why bother with the caveats in the first place?

      2. But, I mean, I DID divorce myself from the qualifications… the qualifications have no bearing on whether this students’ rights were violated, as I explained.

        Do you really think it would be better* for me not to explain that I disagree with the remarks and find them distasteful? If so, why?

        *Better, in the sense that it would more effectively spread libertarian ideas and convince others these ideas are valid.

        1. ” it would more effectively spread libertarian ideas”

          Either you accept a plurality of opinions and free expression, or you don’t.

          Insisting that everyone be aware of your personal distastes before grudgingly accepting that “free speech is vital” doesn’t strike me as the strongest sales-pitch for Libertarianism.

          Openly inserting personal value-judgements into reporting also isn’t generally part of the professional-journalist’s style-guide

          1. (lol) as though this is the very first time someone’s bothered to point this out.

            1. GILMORE for the win!

              If this is straightforward reporting of an injustice, no stating of personal opinion is necessary. The line; “it’s grossly inappropriate for administrators to pretend that the use of crass language on the internet is equivalent to disorderly conduct.” isn’t exactly neutral in opinion, but doesn’t hang a personal rejection or endorsement on the story.

              1. exactly.

                his last paragraph had one “important” sentence

                “”formally punishing him is an act of pure censorship that puts everyone’s rights in danger“”

                Everything else before that was pointless, signalling bullshit that devalues the principled position.

                If a person really cared about that last point, they wouldn’t make so much effort with the caveats

        2. Personally I think it’s reasonable to suppose that a some percentage of the potential audience for libertarian ideas has never really grappled with the notion that there are other ways to respond to speech which one disagrees with than attempting to suppress that speech and/or directly punish the speaker.

          That’s especially true in light of the fact that a large percentage of the potential audience has been uneducated in the American college system.

        3. Well, it validates the notion that you should have to make such a defense.

        4. Yes, it would be much better if you didn’t explain that you disagree with the remarks and find them distasteful. You are saying “I’m not one of those guys!”

          It is a common rhetorical trick – trying to put yourself in the other camp so they’ll identify with you so you can then say “even I can see that this is a bridge too far!”

          But this isn’t a straight opinion piece. It is a news piece with commentary sprinkled in. The commentary is on the actions of the university. Everything else provides the background necessary to make that commentary. This is a valid and valuable use of one’s time, holding public institutions accountable for their violations of people’s basic freedoms.

          Chiming in on the kids comments on the other hand, not so relevant. Nobody is going to read an opinion piece about some random kid’s two posts. As such this only detracts from the compactness of your writing.

          But more to the point, by bothering to opine on the social value of the two little comments you validate the argument that we should be judging the content of some random kid’s twitter account. This seriously distracts from the point you intend to make. Now there is a side argument as to the severity of the outrage. What if they were more than merely “distasteful?” What if they were only “boorish?” How about “flamingly offensive”, even to Eric Cartman? Does any of that bear on the argument? No?

          This is one of your tics. You want to say “I agree with you, but…”

  5. What did Vincent do? He tweeted…

    When will humanity wake from its collective madness and realize that Twitter is a bad idea?

    I look forward to the day when people laugh at tweets and those who tweet.

    1. Twitter is really useful as an up-to-the minute link aggregator. Anything beyond that is rather pointless. I rarely read/write tweets that don’t have a link to a website in them.

      1. I rarely read/write tweets that don’t have a link to a website in them.

        If you don’t read them, how do you know they don’t have a link in them? Answer me that, Mr. Trshmnstr.

    2. Live Tweeting “Fast n Furious” and “RedEye” and some other shows is the shit, and I got my name on TEEVEE because of it, so you shut your whore mouth, Moozlim lover!11!

      1. HA!

        I got my name on T.V. and in the News without tweeting. Suck it bitch.

        1. Like everyone hasn’t *rolls eyes*

          GET BACK TO ME WHEN YOUR TWEETERZZ ARE ON TEEVEE, LOSER.

        2. What were the charges?

    3. Dude, people who haven’t figured out that blurting out not-well-thought-out 140 character “thoughts” into the ether where shitloads of people (people who actually spend their time watching other people’s moronic thoughts speed by) can see it isn’t a good idea aren’t about to have an epiphany suddenly about how fucking stupid they are.

      Twitter is for PR and impulse control impaired mongoloids whose low grade narcissism overrides any common sense they may have.

      1. The narcissism meter is pretty low around here. We just don’t “get” twitter.

      2. Twitter and Facebook represent the absolute bottom of the barrel of humanity.

        1. Facebook was tolerable for a while – I remember friends using it to plan get-togethers. It didn’t become a brain-dump of every stupid random thought you had until later.

          1. Every time I hear a friend or family bring it up and what’s going on with it, it’s like an episode of Jerry Springer. This is why I deleted my account years ago.

          2. FB is tolerable if you just hide every single person who posts anything political or socially signaling at all. Then your feed becomes nice and quiet with pictures of vacations and rugrats and nothing else.

            1. And your dog, don’t forget your dog. Because surely, everyone on the planet is interested in what your dog is doing today.

              1. They’re….not?

                *begins to question life philosophy*

              2. Dog pictures lower my blood pressure. I’ll take that over ‘shares’ of SJW nonsense any day.

      3. Imagine Hitler’s Twitter feed.

        There. Gave you something heavy to think about.

      4. “Twitter is for PR and impulse control impaired mongoloids whose low grade narcissism overrides any common sense they may have.”

        Why do i feel the compulsion to re-tweet this?? (takes shot of whiskey and eats chocolate bar)

      5. Yes, mongoloids post 140 character stream of consciousness rants on Twitter.

        Gentlemen and scholars post 140 character stream of consciousness rants on comments of blogs.

        Its completely different!

        1. 199 characters.

  6. Camille Paglia is a first class broad.

    You’re an atheist, and yet I don’t ever see you sneer at religion in the way that the very aggressive atheist class right now often will. What do you make of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and the religion critics who seem not to have respect for religions for faith?

    I regard them as adolescents. I say in the introduction to my last book, “Glittering Images”, that “Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination.” It exposes a state of perpetual adolescence that has something to do with their parents? they’re still sneering at dad in some way. Richard Dawkins was the only high-profile atheist out there when I began publicly saying “I am an atheist,” on my book tours in the early 1990s. I started the fad for it in the U.S, because all of a sudden people, including leftist journalists, started coming out of the closet to publicly claim their atheist identities, which they weren’t bold enough to do before. But the point is that I felt it was perfectly legitimate for me to do that because of my great respect for religion in general?from the iconography to the sacred architecture and so forth. I was arguing that religion should be put at the center of any kind of multicultural curriculum.

    Its from Salon.

    1. she continues

      I’m speaking here as an atheist. I don’t believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply. All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced. We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system. They see nothing but politics, but politics is tiny. Politics applies only to society. There is a huge metaphysical realm out there that involves the eternal principles of life and death. The great tragic texts, including the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles, no longer have the central status they once had in education, because we have steadily moved away from the heritage of western civilization.

      1. “I don’t believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply.”

        Normally I find that sentiment incredibly patronizing. But she makes a good point about the role of religion in forming civilization.

        1. I agree with you. Something about what Camille said portrays a genuineness that is rare in the “I respect that you pray to an imaginary sky fairy” world of modern Western atheism.

          1. I am pretty sure anyone who uses the term “imaginary sky fairy” counts as an adolescent in Paglia’s mind. And she is right. If you can’t appreciate and understand religion and just dismiss it out of hand, you are intellectually stunted. It is really that cut and dried.

            1. Yeah, and that’s my point. Many atheists, even in “throwing a bone to the Christians,” hedge their bone throwing in trite little condescending phrases. It’s like admitting that there’s any real question as to whether God exists is beneath them.

              1. My apologies.

        2. And she respects it as a serious inquiry into the problems of meaning and life. She doesn’t agree with the answers but she respects the answers and the seriousness of the inquiry.

          1. Yep, and that respect immediately pays dividends in that I don’t feel like I’m put on the defensive from the get-go. I can disagree with somebody and still respect them. I don’t respect people who make it abundantly clear that they think they’re better than be because of the answer they come to. That goes for politics as much as religion.

        3. When I first came across her at Salon around 15 years ago, nobody was saying this stuff. At least not in the “popular press”. It was very refreshing to me at the time.

        4. I don’t believe there is a God is an opinion. I believe there is a God is an opinion. I don’t know if there is a God or not is the most legitimate statement to me, since there is no one who can either prove or disprove that there is a God. This is why I’m agnostic and not a true believer or an atheist. But I will say, that if there is a God, it’s an advanced technology, not some magical sky faery.

          Maybe we’re all living in a massive computer simulation, that for the gods is the best game ever.

          God 1: Hey man, my mammals really fucked up your dinos, dude!

          God 2: WTF? Cheater! We said no killer asteroids allowed!

          1. We are all agnostics sometimes, no matter what people tell you. And yeah, we just assume God is a nice guy or even a serious one. There is nothing that says that isn’t just wishful thinking on our part.

            1. John, tell that to the the people who swear that God talks with them every day and tells them personally, what everyone else should be doing right now.

              Or tell that to the educated shitheads who KNOW there is no fucking God because they went to a university, got a piece of paper and now know all the secrets of the universe, unlike the rest of the mouth breathing rednecks.

    2. That whole interview was awesome. I can almost feel the liberal rage induced by her calling out Stewart and Letterman for introducing the “snark” culture.

      I’ve had a big argument lately with fellow agnostics about their condescension towards religion. I’m getting tired of them constantly shitting on the bible just because it does in fact contain some absolutely loopy shit (Book of Haggai, etc.).

      A lot of it comes from the recent bible vs. the gays war that’s broke out recently over marriage and wedding cakes and what not. It’s so fucking tiresome and only makes me become even more of a libertarian.

      HOW ABOUT YOU JUST LEAVE THEM THE FUCK ALONE YOU MORON.

      1. Well I *want* to buy into this, because I also find the condescension you’re talking about pretty annoying.

        But on the other hand, the actual notions advanced by religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are simply so patently absurd that perhaps the condescension is understandable. Surely not admirable. But understandable.

    3. they’re still sneering at dad in some way.

      Oh what a surprise. The Freudian thinks people have daddy issues. I like Paglia but her academic bias is always so transparent.

  7. A Tumblr user named Kelsey, who does not attend TCU, posted screenshots of his comments and implored others to report him to TCU’s Campus Life department. A number of Tumblr users, including Kelsey herself, did so.

    Would this be one of those paid trolls you hear about? I can’t think of any other reason someone would spend so much time policing comments for an organization they don’t even belong to.

    1. It’s not policing for TCU, it’s policing for the Kulturkampf. She’s a loyal soldier of the hate speech brigade, and must bring ruin to anybody who dare defy her. Fuck, they just torpedoed some dentist’s career for shooting a fucking lion (I think he’s a schmuck for luring the lion off of a preserve, but let’s not pretend like that really matters to the chattering class).

  8. After receiving his apology, Robinson notified Vincent that she had found him guilty, in part based on his own “written statements.”

    Classic.

    1. Unsolicited advice to any college student: lawyer up the instant that you get any sort of disciplinary letter from your college.

  9. I’m pretty sure TCU is dependent upon all kinds of federal and state grants. BS on them being exempt from the 1st Amendment.

  10. I should add that I personally find Vincent’s remarks distasteful.

    Cosmo qualifier included (check). Invites to cocktail party to follow (don’t hold your breath).

    1. Robby’s a cosmo, but a lovable one (the hair helps)

  11. Specifically, he referred to the “hoodrat criminals in Baltimore” and told someone to “chill the fuck out you islamic shit head.”

    Challenging Vincent’s views of Muslims could in fact be a useful exercise for all.

    Really not understand this. Is the contention that the person didn’t need to chill, wasn’t islamic, or not a shit head?

  12. I should add that I personally find Vincent’s remarks distasteful.

    What part?

    This one?

    “hoodrat criminals in Baltimore”

    There are actually a lot of hoodrat criminals in Baltimore. So why is it now distasteful to tell the truth?

    I bet if he said that ‘white’ people are evil, that would be ok, right?

    What if he had said ‘Fuck off Christian shitheads!’ That would be ok too, I’m sure. In fact, if he had said either or both of those things, we wouldn’t even be talking about this, would we?

    1. ^This. The guy wouldn’t be in any sort of trouble if he were bitching about “racist rednecks in Biloxi” and telling people to “fuck off, you fundie bigot!”

      1. #punchingup

    2. What if he had said ‘Fuck off Christian shitheads!’ That would be ok too, I’m sure.

      I’m not so sure that would be OK at Texas Christian University.

      1. It might not be ok with the other students, but it would be ok with the admins.

        1. I bet they would care, but wouldn’t know about it because the nosy twat on tumblr wouldn’t have cared.

  13. They seriously get off on forcing people to make fake apologies.You didn’t do something bad, you THOUGHT something bad, and you must repent you heretic. Now go through our brainwashing classes so we can reprogram you

  14. “infliction of bodily or emotional harm,”

    For fuck’s sake… “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me require years of therapy because I’m a giant fucking pussy.”

    A Tumblr user named Kelsey, who does not attend TCU, posted screenshots of his comments and implored others to report him to TCU’s Campus Life department.

    Eat a dick, “Kelsey”, you fucking busy body. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone named Kelsey who wasn’t a SPESHUL SNOFLAKE.

  15. “I should add that I personally find Vincent’s remarks distasteful. “

    Of course you should Robby. How else would we know? because your opinion on what’s Okay and Not Okay is what *journalism is really about*

  16. Glory, glory, glory ROBINSON!
    Glory, glory, glory ROBINSON! [/Battle hymn of the Republic]

    Mrs. Robinson, did you know that you have a bullshit made-up administrative job so that you can wear a nice suit and act all important? What a fucking joke. Hey kids – you want to know why you are expected to endebt yourself for a half-assed degree? It’s so you can support a bunch of useless pukes with their own degrees and no other ability to earn a living!

  17. Racism is bad, but censorship is far, far worse.

  18. I thought they have more important problems like the quality of education, essay writing services and plagiarism. It’s so stupid.

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