Marquette University is patently offensive

“As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless,” humorist Dave Barry once wrote. “I refer, of course, to the federal government.”

This, apparently, is “patently offensive” to State-worshipping academics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis.

Philosophy graduate student Stuart Ditsler posted this quotation on his office door there, prompting university administrators to call the statement “patently offensive” and remove it from his office door.

In an e-mail to Ditsler, [Philosophy Department Chair James South] said that: “I had several complaints today about a quotation that was on the door of CH 132F. I’ve taken the quotation down. While I am a strong supporter of academic freedom, I’m afraid that hallways and office doors are not ‘free-speech zones.’ If material is patently offensive and has no obvious academic import or university sanction, I have little choice but to take note.”

What kind of ninny becomes “offended” at seeing a libertarian quote on an office door at Marquette? And how is the quote “patently offensive?” South has refused to say.

In fact, philosophy faculty have been quite free to post cartoons on their doors attacking President Bush and the “values voters” who supposedly elected Bush in 2004. But the Dave Barry quote was verboten. — Marquette Tribune

Besides the fact that the academic import of Barry’s humorous and oh-so-true statement is patently obvious, I’m patently offended at Marquette University.

“There have been several high-profile free speech controversies on campuses recently, such as at Columbia this month,” says Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “But incidents like this one at Marquette and on other campuses illustrate how even innocuous expression is under ongoing assault at our colleges and universities.”

Unfortunately, this is far from an isolated incident. Freedom of thought has been under attack at American universities for many years now.

Cato Institute executive vice president David Boaz notes that while Marquette is a private university and can “regulate speech as it chooses,” it’s being academically dishonest by not making its anti-freedom policies clear: “If libertarian jests are ‘patently offensive’ and subject to censorship at Marquette, it might want to note that in a new paragraph of its academic freedom guidelines and perhaps in the catalog provided to prospective students.”

A quick review of their web site indicates that Marquette doesn’t seem to have any such guidelines.