The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Monday, May 5, 2008

Incident at Smith

Free speech under attack.

An incident happened last week at Northampton's Smith College that attracted little media attention but perhaps should have. Ryan Sorba, author of an unreleased but already controversial book titled The Born Gay Hoax attempted to give a speech presumably based on his belief that homosexuality is not determined primarily by genetics.

Speaking for myself, I definitely have the sense of having been gay my whole life. If it is a "lifestyle choice" then it was one I made too early in life to be conscious of. But what exactly Sorba's theory is was not possible to ascertain because angry mobs of chanting protesters made it impossible for him to speak.

I didn't attend the event. The person who alerted me to it, as well as to a site with some photos and videos of the incident, was local writer and photographer Ben Duffy, whom some of you may remember as an occasional contributor to this website. He sent me the following email:

Ben Duffy

Tom , I thought that you might want to take a look at these pictures and videos. They are astounding.

I've noticed from your blog that you seem to harbor a hatred toward the so-called "religious Right", due to the fact that they think that your sexual behavior is immoral. Well, I do too.

In any case, you're still free to do it. Here's the BIG LIE of the homosexual lobby--that they just want to secure the freedom of two consenting adults to do what they want to do behind closed doors. In fact, that is NOT the case. What they want is for everyone to approve of it, nay--to CELEBRATE it.

The educational system is their vehicle. They'll get right down there in the elementary school if they need to.

I remembered once how you mention the supposedly "anti-gay" Mike Huckabee, and how you remembered a time when Republicans just wanted to stay out of your bedroom. Well guess what--we still do. Even Mike Huckabee approves of Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case that found a RIGHT to Sodomy in the Constitution. Mike Huckabee is in no way suggesting that cops should be running around, breaking down doors and arresting homosexuals in their acts of indecency. He just wants the right to SAY that it is indecent.

And that's the freedom that is in jeopardy in the United States today. Frankly, the "gay rights movement"-- aka the homosexual lobby, aka the sodomy gestapo--is the greatest threat to our freedoms today. They will silence anyone who gets in their way. If this video doesn't convince you, just Google Tyler Chase Harper. Or look into the San Diego and Providence firefighters who have been forced to march in Gay Pride Parades. OR look at the Christian activists who were arrested at the Philadelphia gay pride parade for engaging in peaceful protest. Or the way that the homosexual lobby shut down Catholic Charities of Boston because they refused to put children in the unhealthy environment of homosexual parents.

If I were a bumper sticker person, I'd have one made that says "homosexuals stole my right to vote". I don't buy this bullshit that we can't vote on gay marriage because it is a "civil right". Voting is a civil right, gay "marriage" is a judicial fabrication. What happened here on June 15, 2007 was tyrannical. That was the day that the government stopped working for us and we started working for the government. Honestly, I have never seen such a dishonest circumvention of democracy in my life.

Homosexuals are not the victims. Homosexuals are the aggressors. Their rights are not in jeopardy, but the rest of ours are.


Sheesh, it's a good thing I don't require my friends to agree with me on every issue! Actually I don't argue with people who try to tell me my queerness is immoral. I just say:

Fuck you, it's my body and I'll do what I want!

That said, Ben Duffy is a good person to raise the issue of censorship on campus. In this famous video, Duffy is shown, back when he was a UMass student, futilely attempting to control an angry mob that shut down a talk by conservative commentator Mike Adams. The video, which I filmed, attracted national attention and to date has received over 11,000 hits.

That is not however the most popular video I ever made. That would be The Amherst Ant War which has received over 28,000 hits and counting.

Anyway, if the past is any guide, Sorba's book is just a lot of word games designed to make hatred and ignorance seem respectable. But that's beside the point. Any attack on any public speaker, regardless of what they are saying, is an attack on the free speech rights of every member of the community. If anyone is shouted down into silence, then anyone who has anything to say is at risk of censorship. Always it is the speech we find most offensive that we must fight most vigorously to defend. That those values are not respected on today's college campuses, where the leaders of our future are being trained, is more than sad. It's frightening.

To its credit, the president of Smith College released a public statement expressing regret over the incident, which is more than UMass did over the Adams affair. But we obviously still have a ways to go to restore open thought and freedom of speech to our institutions of higher learning.

To see a detailed account, complete with amazing videos, of the unfortunate events at Smith, CLICK HERE.

Meanwhile, the Valley Press Club held it's annual roast in Springfield the other night. I didn't go to that either, but Bill Dusty did and filed a report on his website. Here is a picture he took of attendees Mike Dobbs, who keeps a foot in both old and new media with his gig with The Reminder and his multiple blogs, with Jim Polito, the former TV40 dude who now has a new gig in the Worcester area.

What was unique about this roast was that for the first time it was made known through the inter-media grapevine (more efficient in its own way than the Associated Press) that local bloggers would not be unwelcome if they attended. That's a far cry from the days of old, when the roasts were very elite affairs where only true insiders attended and Dave Starr always had a table in front for skits such as local reformers Bob and Karen Powell being ridiculed as "trailer trash."

To read all about the current event and see some pics of who was there CLICK HERE.


Anonymous said...


Mr. Duffy, a seemingly otherwise very bright guy, seems to have drunk the Kool Aid of religious right bigotry.

Its unfortunate because it makes him look like a whack job and destroys his credibility on other issues.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, Tommy as I was just saying to Kelsey over at her blog, the First Amendment only applies to GOVERNMENT intrusion on citizens free speech.

Since Smith is a PRIVATE institution school officials could have had the kiddies arrested and it would not have been a violation of their First Amendment rights.

But when Umass students and professors embarrassed themselves and the flagship institution by drowning out President Jack Wilson giving Andy Card an honorary degree they were within their rights since Umass is a public institution. Of course then you gotta wonder about Jack Wilson’s or Andy Card’s First Amendment rights.

Bill Dusty said...

Well, I believe homosexuality is genetic (from birth), and as a believer in science, I haven't heard or read anything to change my mind on that.

On the Smith riot: First Amendment rights are one thing, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace are another. Too many people prop up the phrase "freedom of speech" to justify their own ridiculous, childish behavior. And it's a slap in the face to those in totalitarian countries who have been imprisoned and put to death simply for saying what they believe in (and ever so politely). Too many people are brought up at home and taught in schools to be selfish - that their speech and beliefs are the only ones worthy of being heard or tolerated. All others must be shouted down, silenced and banned.

Progressives guilty of such behavior have a lot of balls calling "neocons" fascists. Take a look in the mirror.

On the Amherst Ant War: A CLASSIC!!! My favorite Tommy Devine video!

Shannon said...

As someone who was at the protest [and pictured in that first photo in your entry, taken by an anti-gay "reporter" for MassResistance who pretended to be an ally to the LGBTQ community by wearing a rainbow bracelet to the event], I would like to point out that the Smith Republicans need to be held responsible for bringing hate speech to campus. Ryan Sorba is affiliated with the Young Americans for Freedom, which is the only student group listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. He came to Smith specifically to tell us all how gay men are pedophiles and a public health danger.

By chanting, "What do we want? Safe space! When do we want it? Now!" and "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!" the protesters at the event stood up in solidarity against the hate speech that Sorba was at that very moment spewing from the podium. If he had been a speaker who was actually interested in an intellectual dialogue about the origins of sexuality, that would have been great. If he was anyone who remotely wanted to have a serious academic discourse instead of being a barely-educated man who specifically asked to come to Smith [and Mount Holyoke, yet was turned down here] to hurt the LGBTQ community, our response probably would have been much different. I helped organize a silent protest against Phyllis Schlafly at Mount Holyoke that went off very well. This, however, was a different type of "speaker", and the Smith Republicans are still not being asked by anyone in authority why they chose to host such a damaging and offensive speaker.

As for holding an alternate event in the queer community center, which was done, I am not necessarily opposed to that, but when people attending the alternate event decide to attack the actions of the protesters, I have to say: were it not for the "disruptive" actions of those before you, you would not even have minimum rights such as safe space in a queer community center. Civil disobedience still has its place in American society. We were not violent - we were simply responding to Sorba's hate against us by defending the space of our queer community.


Bill Dusty said...


You're comparing apples and oranges. The "disruptive actions" of our founding fathers were in reaction to taxation without representation and other civil abuses of power by England. Other uses of civil disobedience were in reaction to similar civil rights issues and abuses. In the case of the Smith speech, the guy was *invited* to speak - he didn't just show up, and his right to speak was denied by a mob. If the mob didn't want to hear him speak, they did not have to attend his speaking engagement. They went out of their way to be there and to silence him.

Freedom of speech is for everyone - even if you disagree with them. Sadly, that is a concept the progressive movement refuses to tolerate.

Anonymous said...

Tell the homo nazis that I was born with a NATURAL revulsion to their behavior. It disgusts me to think of two men having sex. No one taught me that, I was born knowing that it is wrong. I have gay friends whom I respect as people, but I will never celebrate their homosexuality. jim666

O'Reilly said...

Shorter Ben Duffy in 8 easy steps.

1. Gay lifestyle is immoral.

2. Gays want approval.

3. The insidious values teaching about “gays” in public schools is pernicious propaganda that wrongly portrays their immoral behavior as a respectable difference.

4. By indecent (lewd) I mean immoral (decadent.)

5. Mike Huckabee wants everyone (including gays) to approve, nay CELEBRATE his view that gay is indecent (by which he means immoral.)

6. It used to be a right to calls gays immoral and that is in jeopardy

7. I don’t know my ass from my elbow when I cite Lawrence v. Texas. The Supreme Court found that it is unconstitutional for the state of Texas to criminalize sodomy.

8. Frankly, gay rights/homosexual lobby/sodomy Gestapo/ is the greatest threat to our freedoms today.

GREATEST? REALLY?? I was thinking the suspension of habeas corpus or government surveillance without a warrant or national security letters and the Patriot Act but if you say gay rights Ben Duffy, then I’ll gird my loins and keep one eye open for the subversive gay rights lobby that is rolling back the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Observe however, that the gay rights lobby wants EQUAL RIGHTS FOR GAYS – that whole thing about celebration is your personal problem – and the threats I cite above DIMINISH THE RIGHTS OF ALL AMERICANS, straight and gay.

We don’t get to vote on whether blacks should have separate but equal schools as whites (Brown v. Board Education), or whether gays should have equal protection under the law. Our government was designed to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. That is the job of the third branch, the judiciary. It is the responsibility of the courts to insure that all Americans have equal protection under the law, not just straight Americans. And you can call them immoral if you want or indecent, and you can judge them a feel morally superior.

I’m sure you weren’t crying "Judicial Activism!" when the Supreme Court found in favor of Bush v. Gore, even though that decision contradicted stare decisis and disenfranchised Florida voters from the one-person one-vote doctrine, the majority of Americans who voted for Gore.

The conservative movement is the biggest bunch of crybaby victims… the courts this, liberal judges that, let’s have a vote on equal protection under the law and exclude gays, and why else?

Finally, the intolerant mob that shouted down the unpopular speaker was uncivil. I was surprised at their response to his unpopular thesis. They obviously took it personally rather than debating it on the merits.

O'reilly said...

Ben Duffy's thinking about politics - if it is the same Ben Duffy - about how people develop their views, about race and ethnicity is lazy, stilted and flawed.

For example, this entire opinion piece rests on a presumption that conservative couples produce conservative children and visa versa. At first I thought it was satire but after a second reading I realized he is serious. It would seem Ben Duffy thinks that people don't make up their own minds.

This part was a particularly nice 'piece of work':

Democrats however, will try to make Latinos into wards of the state who will blindly vote for Democrats just to keep their government handouts coming. I believe that the Latino community's tireless work ethic and sense of pride will be enough to thwart the efforts of the Democratic Party to infantilize their people. At least that's my hope.

Want more? Its in the Daily Collegian here

"Infantalize" is not a word. Imagine the power to turn a entire ethnic group into children... whatever.

In Duffy's world only conservatives think for themselves or maybe no one does. I think some conservatives are very afraid of he future.