Dear Editor:

Reviewing Chemerinsky and Gillman’s “Free Speech on Campus,” BMOC Michael Roth is a marching sandwich board of starchy clichés: the authors (UCal officials) are “fundamentalists” who take a “dogmatic approach to freedom of expression.”

The Man continues: “Their rhetoric suggests that a succession of horrible events will be the unintended consequence of even modest restraints on expression.” Were Michael to have an attack of candor, he’d call those “modest restraints” of his, mission creep: the incremental nullification of free expression. (A done deal in a schoolyard whose bully defines the catchall “hate speech.”)

President Roth is troubled by “issues of power and inequality.” Small world, so am I, since HE has all the power, while I, the voice that cryeth in the wilderness, have all the inequality. Through crocodile tears the man who owns every share of the bully pulpit decries “the failure of the marketplace of ideas” – a failure that won’t be total until the head of this vocal crier (your humble servant) is on a platter.

Constitutional ‘theorist’ John Finn joins in. Laying his cards on the table (Argus, April 10): “The alt-constitution is explicitly, avowedly, proudly white, Christian, and politically conservative.” Cool. Three words of that sentence appear in the capitalized, unhyphenated Constitution: “the,” “is,” and “and” – bluff John’s three aces.

A cannier player, Frederick Douglass, saw the alt-constitutional theorist’s down-and-dirty reading and raised it. “I’ll raise you a fin!” Dear editor, please ignore my muse’s hare-brained bid; can’t take that kibitzer anywhere. Douglass, I was about to say, concluded that a document framed to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, and secure the Blessings of Liberty, “could not well have been designed at the same time to maintain and perpetuate a system of rapine and murder like slavery.”

But never mind: firebrand Douglass’ ghost is holding a dead hand, the Finn man is flashing a flush one: “We can’t have a robust version of the First Amendment that sacrifices equal protection” (of those whom backward-looking Michael dubs “historically vulnerable groups”). But what we CAN have is a robust version of equal protection that sacrifices the First Amendment. How? By stretching the intended scope of the equal protection clause, one “modest” stretch at a time.

As was Josef Stalin, John Finn is a champion omelet-maker. Uh-oh….

“A kibitzer, am I? I’ll bet you the pot that a BMOC (a patron the omelet-maker always has a setting for), addressing the cuisinier by his nom de guerre, will order: “Stretch, I’ll have your deservedly oft-applauded sliced salami omelet.”* My muse neglected to mention that the slices must be modest.* “My protégé, I saved that massively mustered tidbit for you.”


Martin Benjamin is a member of the class of 1957.

  • Concerned Alum

    He’s back!