The Corner

Campus Kangaroo Court Convicts Conservative Professor

In response to Paid Environmental Endorsements?

Many thanks to Peter Kirsanow for highlighting the plight of my friend and Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain, who’s now facing a petition demanding her suspension for the thoughtcrime of being “hateful” to minorities. This isn’t Dr. Swain’s first campus controversy. She’s faced vandalism, threats, protests, and official condemnation for her previous thoughts on Islam, religious liberty, race, and diversity. But her challenges — as bad as they are — pale in comparison to the ordeal faced by California State University, Northridge, professor Robert Oscar Lopez. The Daily Caller has compiled a comprehensive — and alarming — report.

Lopez was accused of a Title IX violation for exposing students to social conservative thought during an optional assignment at an event he hosted at the Ronald Reagan library. The conference, called “Bonds That Matter,” was focused on family relationships and the rights of children. The conference featured speakers from a range of viewpoints, and several of the speakers were traditional conservatives, a fact that infuriated a number of students.

Not content with debating the presenters and raising their concerns with Lopez, students waited for months – well after university deadlines — to file a complaint, formally accusing him of discriminatory misconduct and retaliation.

According to Lopez, the university not only refused to dismiss the late-filed complaint, it also refused to provide him with written notice of the charges against him, and failed to provide him with an opportunity to confront or question his accusers. The university also ordered Lopez him to keep the charges confidential, preventing him from mobilizing public support during a protracted, 245-day investigation. Lopez also claims that a university official, Susan Hua (I called and emailed Hua for comment, with no reply) repeatedly compared “voluntary attendance at a conference at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to appearing a Ku Klux Klan camp.”

At the conclusion of the investigation, the university exonerated Lopez of the discrimination charges, but then found him guilty of retaliation for asking angry students if they’re going to file charges against him, allegedly stating there was “bad blood” between professor and student, and allegedly telling one complaining student (who actually received an “A” in his class) that he might be less inclined to give her an academic award. Lopez denies making such a threat, and he indicates that she wouldn’t have been eligible for an award. Lopez’s counsel is also vigorously challenging the legality of the university’s finding. I suspect litigation is inevitable. 

Why would the university put Lopez through such an extraordinary ordeal — including waiving its own time limits to maintain the investigation and prosecution? The Daily Caller tells the tale:

Lopez is an interesting case. He was raised by a lesbian couple. He is — or was — bisexual. He is now married to a woman. His critics, including the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates heavily for gay and transgender causes, have branded him as a conservative “exporter of hate.”

In 2012, Lopez wrote a piece in Public Discourse reflecting on his experiences as the child of two lesbian parents. The piece caused outrage and alarm among gay marriage advocates.

He “was emotionally very close to my mother’s lesbian partner,” Lopez told LifeSiteNews.com last month, but he was also “was alienated from my father and therefore from half of myself.”

“I oppose any agenda that compromises the sacred rights of children to their maternal and paternal lineages,” Lopez told LifeSiteNews, an anti-abortion website. “Whether it is straight or gay people doing this, I oppose it.”

Lopez has also argued in the cyberpages of American Thinker, a conservative website, that “children have an inalienable right to a mother and father, cannot be bought or sold, and are entitled to know their origins. Whether it is straight people or gay people using divorce, surrogacy, trafficking, or any other means to deny people these rights, I oppose it.

In other words, Lopez is a dissenter from the sexual revolution, so in the modern university he is to be destroyed, not debated. Fortunately, however, Lopez has legal counsel, our nation still has a constitution, and he has vowed to fight. This story is far from over.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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