Two days ago, I reported that the president had announced that the school did not, has not, and will not sue me. Unfortunately, the actions of the University again don’t match up with president’s words. The “John Doe” suit remains active in Marion County court.
Since the lawsuit is still open, the school can substitute my name for that of “John Doe” whenever they want to. Are they going to add my name later today? Tomorrow? Next week? Four months from now? Is the president making promises now that he can break once he feels enough people have forgotten? These are questions that I find myself debating almost constantly. The president has said that the school will not sue me. If he intends to make good on that promise, then the school should dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice. Given how often and how forcefully I’ve been threatened with this lawsuit, I won’t believe that they don’t intend to sue me until it is dismissed.
Yet the lawsuit sits, open, ready, and waiting. I believe it is not just a threat to me, but to each one of you who might ever dare to question authority. When you check the court dockets for the status of the Butler v. “John Doe” case, it is hard to imagine what the university wants you to think. Could it be that they want you to believe that “John Doe” might be you? I think, in a very public way, the Butler University administration has decided to say, “Do you want this to happen to you?”
This is simply not right. To date, nearly 600 people have signed a petition calling for the administration to apologize for filing the lawsuit and to apologize for the accusations made against me. Many of those who have signed have also left very strong comments:
“It is inconceivable that a University would operate in a climate of fear and that it would sue a student for a blog, anonymous or not. What are Butler students learning about honor and settling differences and free speech?”
-Reverend James F. Mulcahy
“Too many colleges and universities are using their resources to bully and intimidate their faculties and students. This case appears to be an egregious example that is a disgrace to Butler University and the whole of the Academy.
-Bruce A Voyles, Ph.D.
“I would think that the brightest scholars in the world could handle a little lively on-line candor better than this. I think I can scratch Butler off the list of possible colleges for my three kids if this is the way they resolve things with students. I sure would not want one of my kids treated this way.”
-Reverend Max Ramsey
“As a lifelong academic I am appalled that a student's freedom of expression is being curtailed and threatened. This defies basic human goodness and decency.”
-Steve A. Wiggins, Ph.D.
If you have not signed the petition, I urge you to consider doing so. If you have signed it, go back and read what our friends on campus and around the country are saying. Their statements are very moving and provide a markedly different perspective than the one Butler administration is promoting. The petition can be found by going to www.ipetitions.com/petition/butler
Right now, I am “John Doe.” The president seems to want you to believe that you too can be “John Doe.”
Don’t let the administration scare you: They scared me once and I sat down, silenced. Now, I’m standing again and I don’t intend to go anywhere. I appreciate those of you who are standing with me and I’m confident and hopeful that together we will make a difference.