Thursday, May 10, 2007

Graduation Speech Censorship Thwarted

This post is about a personal event that took place in our lives this week. I will omit names from this post to protect the innocent (and the guilty).

My wife is graduating from nursing school tomorrow at a state-funded university. She was selected by her classmates to give a motivational speech at the graduation ceremony tomorrow evening. All was well until her speech was reviewed by the faculty.

In the five minute speech there is ONE reference to a Scripture from The Bible. She does not identify it as being from The Bible. Upon hearing it, it is not instantly recognizable as being from The Bible. Here it is: "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, if it is within your power to do so."

However, the faculty member must have sensed something because the first thing she said after she heard the speech was, "Where did THAT come from?" When my wife said it was from The Bible, she was told she could not use it. She mildly protested but the instructor said it would have to be removed.

Now you have to understand my wife's personality. She is very nice, cordial, and mostly easy to get along with. However, she has very strong convictions, especially about her faith, and she is very outspoken. Put those together and she is a stick of dynamite. (I mean that in the most complimentary way.)

She informed the instructor that she was not trying to cause trouble but that she was going to stand firm on this. The instructor told her she would have to meet with the dean of the college over this.

The meeting with the dean was this morning. I attended that meeting with my wife because I wasn't going to have her sitting by herself before a panel of government employees and being grilled like at a Senate inquisition. Besides, I had done my homework. I contacted Liberty Counsel who gave me a memorandum written by their Chief Counsel, Mat Staver. They also pointed me to a decision in Adler vs Duval County School Board. Also, I took a letter written by Jay Sekulow from the American Center For Law And Justice web site regarding the issue of free speech at public school graduation events.

The faculty and administration we met with were not confrontational on this issue. They were understanding but somewhat ignorant of students' rights and the role of the school relating to the speech and its presentation.

They agreed that the speech could be delivered as written, including the Scripture. Chalk one up for free speech!

No comments: