So there was this student group at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, you see, that was hosting a campus discussion on abortion. Maybe they should have known better than to have tried. It’s a rancorous issue everywhere, with religion right at the heart of the dispute, and of course everyone knows that one side of this debate in particular is pretty hard to get along with. Its people are closed-minded. They believe what they believe, and they won’t listen to anyone else. They have a nasty association with “haters,” due to their knee-jerk rejection of people who disagree with them.
And so it was that when one of these campus groups in Wilmington invited others to participate in an evening of debate, the other group’s answer came back blazing:
[We] ask that you no longer contact us directly. As a student organization, your events are on the CAIC calendar, part of Hawk e-News, and disseminated in a variety of other ways, which is sufficient for us to be aware of them. We do not need, nor want, these invitations. If you continue to attempt to contact any of us, we will take further action.
The writers of this email reportedly added that because they do not share the other side’s beliefs on abortion and LGBT issues, they wouldn’t participate in any debates. Their message went on,
As such, we have no desire to debate them with you or your organization. We have no desire to hear from [a certain UNCW professor] who has routinely mocked us and engaged in hostile and belittling behavior towards our organizations and beliefs. We have no desire to attend any event sponsored by your organization and its narrow beliefs steeped in … bigotry and intolerance.
Intolerance on Campus
Yup, this group really stands against “narrow beliefs,” so much so that its decision-making grid for participating in debate apparently includes the requirement that the other side must agree with them. This group is so opposed to intolerance—which usually means diversity of opinion, or so I thought—that it’s asked the other group not even to contact them. But wait, no, it wasn’t just a request, it came with a threat: “We will take further action.”
This group, which really objects to “hostile and belittling behavior” towards it and its beliefs, made sure to get their point across by calling the other group’s beliefs “narrow … steeped in … bigotry and intolerance.” Nothing hostile or belittling there!
Irony on Campus
You may have noticed that this was turning ironic. It gets better.
The group that was opening up a campus conversation on abortion was Ratio Christi, the nationwide student Christian apologetics alliance of which I am currently the National Field Director. The email I’ve been quoting from came from “Each of the leaders of PRIDE, NARAL and WSSA,” who “ask that you [Ratio Christi] no longer contact us directly.” (WSSA is the Women’s and Gender Studies Student Association.) The email was obtained and made public in an article in Campus Reform. My friend Aaron Marshall, who works with Ratio Christi there in Wilmington, attests to the report’s accuracy.
The UNCW professor named in the email is Mike Adams, who is admittedly a lightning rod for controversy. He wrote his own views on this in a Townhall.com column yesterday. It would be fair—in fact an understatement—to say that Dr. Adams has done nothing to ingratiate himself with campus liberals. It would also be fair to point out that it’s hardly a one-sided matter, in fact, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found the university had (as his defense team summarized it) “illegally retaliated against Adams when it denied him a promotion in 2006 because of his conservative views.”
Not About Mike Adams
Dr. Adams is sharp and opinionated, with a cutting wit. If this were about campus liberals not wanting to debate him, I could understand their feeling that way. But that’s not what they said. They told the Christians not to contact them about any event, or “we will take further action. They said, “We have no desire to attend any event sponsored by your organization and its narrow beliefs steeped in religious bigotry and intolerance. (“Religious” was the one word I omitted from my earlier quotation.)
They said in effect, You’re intolerant, so we’re not tolerating you. You’re bigoted, so we’re not interested in being reminded of your existence.
Rethinking What Everyone “Knows” About Intolerance On Campus
I opened this article by writing,
Everyone knows that when it comes to the culture wars, one side in particular is pretty closed-minded. They know what they know, and they believe what they believe, and they won’t listen to anyone else. One side has a nasty association with “haters,” due to their knee-jerk rejection of people who disagree with them.
Maybe what everyone “knows” isn’t true. Maybe it’s completely upside down.