In this case, objecting students and administrators claimed that the pamphlets were racist. One was quoted as saying,
There was a lot of devastation for me, psychological damage, injury, because I saw this as social bullying. People need to understand that racism is not dead.
And according to the same article,
A statement from the seminary said it “does not tolerate racial discrimination” and “has policies that both protect freedom of speech and preclude racial harassment of any kind.”
Those claiming to be offended focused on the use of imagery and symbolism in the pamphlets — a picture of a noose and a mention of the Ku Klux Klan among them. But it appears that in the rush to condemn the pamphlets and those who distributed them for being racist, few actually took the time to read the pamphlets. Indeed, the article featuring the noose illustration concludes: “Abortion and population control have taken a devastating toll on the African-American community.” How do I know this? I found the article online, along with the entire 12-page pamphlet, which opens with an introduction from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, Dr. Alveda King.
Whether or not you agree with the message of or studies cited in the pamphlet, it does not appear to be driven by animus towards blacks. Is it too much to ask of wannabe censors — including the administration of Princeton Seminary — to actually read what they wish to censor and not just look at the pictures?
Of course, I say that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. Since anyone with a modicum of sense would realize from reading even a short excerpt that the pamphlet was not intended as a racist screed against African-Americans, we are left with the conclusion that the real problem that Princeton Seminary’s administration and students had with the pamphlet was its controversial views about abortion.
The same is true at Sinclair Community College: the problem was not that Borel-Donohue saw fit to pass out literature on campus, it was that she chose to pass out the wrong kind of literature. And while Princeton Seminary, as a private religious institution, is free to embarrass itself by pretending that a controversy about abortion is really a controversy about race, the students and taxpayers of Ohio who financially support Sinclair Community College have a legal right to expect better from their institution.
Americans have the right to demand and get basic honesty and integrity from our institutions of higher education. Public universities must be made to follow the First Amendment and allow dissenting ideas; private institutions must be held morally accountable to their own values, which rarely include institutional dishonesty about the motives of their own students. Much has been made of a possible “higher education bubble” recently. With incidents like this, is it any wonder if Americans are starting to wonder if college is really worth it?