Last week U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos criticized a “free speech” policy at Arkansas State University.
You may recall nearly a year ago attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit in federal court against Arkansas State University after the school attempted to suppress free speech by its students.
ADF says the school has tried to limit speech to sanctioned “free speech” zones. The university’s policy reportedly restricts free speech to 1% of its Jonesboro campus. When a student wanted to set up a table outside the student union to generate interest in forming a chapter of the group Turning Point USA on campus, a school administrator stopped her, citing the university’s speech policy.
At an event in Philadelphia last week, DeVos acknowledged the situation and criticized the school’s policy, saying,
As the purpose of learning is forgotten, ignored or denied, we are inundated daily with stories of administrators and faculty manipulating marketplaces of ideas.
Take what recently happened to a student at Arkansas State University. She wanted to recruit for a student organization she was founding, but soon learned it first had to be approved by the university. Even then, she still had to apply for a permission slip to distribute materials.
And all of the activity had to occur within the confines of a “speech zone,” typically obscure, small, cordoned-off corners of campus where free expression is “permitted.” These so-called “free speech zones” are popping up on campuses across the country, but they’re not at all free.
The Arkansas State student proceeded to set up shop, and was promptly removed by a university administrator and a campus police officer. She’s suing, and a judge recently allowed the action to proceed.
College campuses used to be places where students could freely exchange ideas. However, we are increasingly seeing attempts by school administrators to restrict speech on campus — especially speech by conservative and pro-life students.
Alliance Defending Freedom has an excellent track record litigating cases like this one in Jonesboro. Given that history, it seems likely the school’s anti-speech policies will not hold up in court.
Last week the Satanic Temple caused quite a stir when it parked 7½-foot statue of baphomet — a satanic figure — in front of the Capitol Building for a couple of hours.
Protesters cheered, screamed expletives, and shouted, “Hail Satan” as the statue was unveiled on the back of a flatbed trailer.
To be clear, the statue did not stay on the Capitol lawn. It was hauled away after the protest finished.
The stunt was part of a rally the Satanic Temple organized to protest Arkansas’ monument of the Ten Commandments.
The Satanic Temple had threatened to place the statue on the Capitol grounds if the Arkansas Legislature went through with plans to install a monument of the Ten Commandments. However, the threats never went anywhere, because monuments require legislative authorization; not just anyone can put a permanent statue on the Capitol lawn.
However, a few Christians on social media have expressed concerns that the State of Arkansas ought to remove the Ten Commandments monument to ensure it’s never forced to allow a satanic statue on the Capitol lawn as well.
Here’s the problem with that line of thinking:
There’s no moral equivalence between the Ten Commandments and baphomet.
The Ten Commandments are one of the earliest examples of the rule of law in the history of human civilization. They were meant to apply to everyone equally. They helped spawn the idea that people could be governed by constitutions and laws instead of kings. That’s why even secular historians down through the years have recognized the significance of the Ten Commandments.
Satanism and paganism did not do any of those things.
The Ten Commandments monument that Arkansas’ lawmakers voted to place on the Capitol lawn celebrates the impact and legacy of the Ten Commandments on Western Civilization, and it is identical to a monument the U.S. Supreme Court ruled constitutional in Texas a few years ago.
Does baphomet have that kind of legacy in our culture? Did Satan give us the rule of law or the idea of human equality? No.
Saying Arkansas’ monument of the Ten Commandments somehow forces the state to put a satanic statue on the Capitol lawn implies that the Ten Commandments and baphomet are somehow equal. They aren’t. One stands for righteousness, order, and the rule of law. The other stands for rebellion, chaos, and lawlessness.
There simply is no comparison.
In what can best be described as a circus, the Satanic Temple held a protest rally on the steps of the Arkansas Capitol Building yesterday.
The Satanic Temple held the event to protest Arkansas’ monument of the Ten Commandments unveiled earlier this year; the monument celebrates the impact and legacy of the Ten Commandments in American law.
In protest, the group parked a flatbed trailer holding a 7½-foot statue of baphomet — a satanic figure — in front of the Capitol Building. Protesters cheered and shouted expletives as the statue was unveiled.
The group had originally threatened to put the monument on the Capitol grounds, but nothing ever came of the threat, because monuments require legislative approval.
Altogether, we estimate there were somewhere around 100 participants in the satanic rally. An additional 100 – 200 people were also present on the Capitol lawn as part of various counter-protests or as onlookers.
Frankly, there just shouldn’t be anything controversial about honoring the significance of the Ten Commandments.
As we’ve said many times, the Ten Commandments are one of the earliest examples of the rule of law in human history, and they have had a tremendous impact on western civilization. The Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are amazing documents, but the Ten Commandments are the great-great-granddaddy of them all.