A Fresno State University professor who rudely defaced a pro-life student group’s chalk messages with his shoe — while simultaneously lecturing the students about how the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allegedly works — must undergo First Amendment training as part of a settlement reached Friday.
The order specifically stipulates that Professor Gregory Thatcher must pay $17,000 in damages, refrain from interfering with the pro-life group’s freedom of speech and “undergo two hours of First Amendment training,” according to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian nonprofit that took the students’ case.
The Fresno Bee notes that the nonprofit filed the suit in May on behalf of Fresno State students Bernadette Tasy and Jesus Herrera, members of the university’s chapter of the Students for Life of America.
The suit claimed that while Tasy and Herrera were chalking “positive, life-affirming messages” on the campus in early May — and reportedly with their teacher’s permission — Thatcher showed up with a gang of his own pro-abortion students and began defacing their messages.
“Acting at his direction, these students erased, obscured, and defaced Plaintiffs’ messages,” the original suit, available for review here, alleged. “One of them even stole Plaintiffs’ chalk and used it to write pro-abortion messages on the sidewalks.”
“When Miss Tasy confronted him, Defendant Thatcher personally erased Plaintiffs’ chalked messages while absurdly proclaiming that ‘college campuses are not free speech areas,’” it continued.
Unluckily for Thatcher, both Tasy and Herrera captured him and his students’ actions on video.
Notice how Thatcher claimed Tasy and Herrera were only allowed to express their pro-life views in the university’s so-called “free speech area.”
In a guidance by the university issue two years ago — and cited in Tasy and Herrera’s lawsuit — it’s made clear that “freedom of expression is allowed in all outdoor spaces on campus.”
Nice try, though.
He also falsely claimed that the First Amendment entitled him to erase the students’ messages. He was wrong about that as well — which he why he was eventually forced to fess up his wrongdoing and settle the suit against him.
In a statement issued to the ADF after the settlement was reached Friday, Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins shared her hope that what happened at Fresno State University would serve as a wake-up call to other radical professors in America.
“We hope the outcome of this case helps college officials everywhere understand that the free marketplace of ideas includes college campuses,” she said.
“Nationwide, we are seeing incredible opposition to the pro-life speech of our student leaders and volunteers as they speak for the defenseless, reach out to pregnant women, and educate on the violence of abortion,” she added. “But as this case illustrates, we are not going to be silent, even if it takes going to court.”
As for Thatcher, he’s certainly allowed to express his views as well, though doing so doesn’t entitle him to silence others — as he’ll soon learn from his scheduled “two hours of First Amendment training.”
Have fun, Greg.
H/T The College Fix
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