Prominent Democrat lawyer Jonathan Turley slammed the ACLU in a brutal piece he wrote about a Facebook attack by an ACLU staffer, Samuel Crankshaw on Kentucky teenager, Nick Sandmann.
Sandmann is the Covington Catholic kid who successfully sued (so far) the Washington Post and CNN for bullying and smearing him as the aggressor during a confrontation following a March For Life event in D.C. two years ago. The confrontation was initiated by far-left activist and fake Vietnam combat veteran, Nathan Phillips, but the media twisted the story, and attempted to make the pro-life teenager, who was wearing a MAGA hat, appear as though he was mocking Phillips.
I have previously written, as a long supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), about my concern over how the venerable group has changed under its current leadership, including a departure from its long robust defense of free speech. Recently, the ACLU has abandoned its famed neutrality and has not supported some on the right while supporting those on the left. Now, the ACLU’s Samuel Crankshaw in Kentucky has targeted Transylvania University for admitting Nick Sandmann, who was falsely accused of abusing a Native American activist in front of Lincoln Memorial. (Crankshaw identifies as an ACLU staffer on social media) Despite various media organizations correcting the story and some settling with Sandmann, some in the media have continued to attack him. Yet, it is far more alarming to see an ACLU official rallying people against a young man whose chief offense appears to be that he is publicly (and unapologetically) conservative and pro-life.
The intolerant ACLU official, Samuel Crankshaw, responded in a post on his personal Facebook page, clarifying that the only “diversity” he’s interested in is the diversity of leftist thought.
NOTE: These are my personal views that I am expressing on my personal Facebook page on my personal time. They do not necessarily reflect the views of my current or past employers. I have a First Amendment right to express my views just as Nick Sandmann has a First Amendment right to express his. I will continue to express my views on my personal time.Does anyone else think it’s a bit of a stain on Transylvania University for accepting Nick Sandman? I’m sure it’s a “both sides” defense, but it’s pretty counter to their mission and another instance of there not actually being equal sides to an issue. I think TU should accept anyone willing to have an open mind and engage in debate, regardless of their views. That’s how we all learn. That’s Transy’s mission.But this kid clearly is a provocateur in training with no intention of learning. He exists only to troll, intimidate and play victim. He and his attorney proudly use their national platforms to promote QAnon, which has *literally* been the direct cause of multiple instances of violence (not to mention all of the other batshit stuff). He is proudly defending Kyle Rittenhouse, who murdered two people for exercising political speech. Ironically, this silenced victim is running with Don Jr., spoke at the GOP convention, has a bill in his honor at the General Assembly, has attended private schools, has a national law firm representing him, etc. So silenced. He’s no different from the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos, but he is more dangerous.Having experienced the incredibly high standards Transy requires for admission and then holds its students to, this seems like a slap in the face. I hope some time in a real classroom changes him, but his twitter and public persona suggest otherwise.
Turley continued: The “both sides” defense used to be the position of the ACLU in fighting for all sides to be given equal opportunities and protections. Moreover, Crankshaw labels Sandmann a “provocateur in training with no intention of learning.” Putting aside the provocateur label how would Crankshaw know that Sandmann has “no intention of learning”?
While the statement is from someone who expressly identifies as an ACLU staffer on social media, it is not a statement from the ACLU itself. Yet, the sentiment reflects the growing concern over the new direction of the ACLU and the shift away from neutrality in the support of free speech rights.
An assistant professor and diversity scholar at Transylvania University, Avery Tompkins, shared a comment on the post before it was taken down, calling Sandmann’s “public behavior and rhetoric atrocious and uninformed,” adding that the young student must accept his class as gospel, the National Review reported. Dr.Tompkins promised to closely monitor Sandmann while he is on campus: “If he were to cause problems by being disruptive, trolling, or engaging in unethical behavior of any kind, I would immediately document it (just like I would for any student doing the same thing)…and he would just be putting himself in a position for me to file a conduct report.”
Turley asks, “Doing the same thing? What thing? Free speech?”
Rather than say that there is no reason why this conservative student should be singled out in this way, Tompkins declares publicly “I get where you are coming from.” Where would that be? Cranksaw was coming from a place where a wrongly accused conservative teenager will be harassed or targeted for daring to take his views to a college.
I appreciate Tompkins noting that students cannot be denied admission based on their political views, though that was once assumed. Yet, Tompkins labels this incoming freshman as part of an anti-intellectual movement and publicly assumes that Sandmann will reject core principles of learning. This is a freshman being publicly shredded by a professor at his school. Tompkins then expresses the same uncertainty why this student would pick a university dedicated to higher education and “the antithesis of what he belies and promotes.”
Despite Tompkins later apology, Crankshaw responded that her stated hostility and bias toward this student is precisely what wants to see in higher education and “why [Transylvania University] is a great place to learn.”
Cranksaw was describing the exercise of free speech by someone with opposing views as unacceptable. Tompkins responds that she will be closely watching him. Both single out this one students for such added scrutiny and Cranksaw thanks Tompkins for the assurance of close monitoring. I have repeatedly defended the views of liberal academics attacking police, Trump, and a wide array of conservative causes. These are statements made outside of the school. Here, however, Tompkins is speaking as an academic, acting a specific students, and promising to monitor his conduct. That is deeply problematic.
Sandmann like all college students should feel greater freedom in expressing their views at colleges, not being closely monitored as someone with dangerous thoughts and ideas. That fact that figures in the ACLU and academia would publicly espouse such views of intolerance is a chilling example of how our faith in free speech has eroded in the recent years.
“We can’t not admit academically qualified students due to their political and personal views,” he said. “If he ends up in my Intro class, fine. He might learn something that is actually based on research and evidence.”
Tompkins added that Sandmann is part of groups that hold “anti-intellectualist views” and would see the professor “as part of some liberal brainwashing machine, but signing up for Transy and my class means he is required to learn that information, even if he disagrees.”
Tompkins later issued an apology, saying, “I want to apologize for my mistake in singling out a student and any misunderstandings that arose from that.”
“One of my favorite things about working at a liberal arts institution is that our community has diverse perspectives,” he continued. “All students, faculty, and staff are able to engage in civil discourse with those whose views may be different from their own and to learn about those views in an academic setting. I value and support these conversations with students, and I know that students value these conversations with their peers as well.”
Sorry, Mr. Tompkins, but that’s not really the feeling one comes away with after reading your anti-free speech remarks comes away.