Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Ok, I have a confession to make. My last post was several days ago and it was an abbreviated one because I was sick. Even though I was pretty sick, it shouldn’t have stopped me from posting for this long. I’ve been slow coming back to posting because I was simply getting exhausted by all of this. Although I knew that nothing was going to go away if I simply ignored the ridiculous situation that I find myself in, I thought maybe I’d give it a shot.

From one perspective, the rest felt pretty good, but nothing much has changed. The university public relations people keep churning out letters saying that the campus had to be protected from the threats made in The True BU. I keep hearing from people who have written to administrators at Butler asking for an apology for their actions. Instead of an apology, they’ve been receiving form letters from PR discussing the “defamation, threats, harassment, and intimidation” that was supposedly included in The True BU. Of course, they don’t point to a single sentence that I’ve written in support of their ridiculous claims. The irony of having Butler opt to endorse a policy of defamation against me, with statements that are clearly false, while attacking me for writing a blog that expressed opinions that were not only well documented but have now been publicly supported as accurate by a large portion of the faculty in the School of Music, is fairly incredible.

The other thing that hasn’t changed is that the national negative attention that Butler has brought on itself through actions of this sort seems to be continuing. College newspapers around the country have been regularly reporting on the issue and writing editorials critical of Butler’s administration. As I said from the outset, Butler’s actions, while directed at me, have huge implications for students, and others, around the world. If critical speech is attacked in one place, it is actually being attacked everywhere.

The latest student editorial, along with another editorial cartoon reproduced below, appeared in the SUNY Brockport newspaper, The Stylus. The headline makes it clear where the newspaper stands: “Fight for your right to speak: censorship.” As with so much of what is being written around the country, this editorial paints Butler administration in a terribly unflattering light:

"How can Butler say they support freedom of speech, while they do that to Zimmerman? Suppressing their student's ability to question those with power, for fear of repercussions. Even if students wanted to question the administration anonymously, Butler has proven they will seek out the student and try to crush them.

Besides, what kind of student is going to want to go to a university that will sue you if you speak out agains
t them or publish something that is less than flattering? That's like dating someone so long as they do whatever you want, whenever you want. It isn't feasible and shows the low character quality of Butler. In the end, the lawsuit, whether it was dropped or not, and the subsequent internal discipline, will be more damaging than one person's blog."

While virtually every outlet that has covered this story seems to recognize that The True BU was an appropriate way to comment on the university scene, I don’t understand why the Butler administration is willing to stand alone in the face of such relentlessly negative publicity. As I’ve said so often, there are so many very good things about Butler, but the actions of our administrators are doing incredible damage to the school’s reputation. It really is crazy that they’re willing to defame and attack their own student in a misguided effort to mitigate the damage that they have done to that reputation by taking such extreme actions in the first place. In all honesty, since I take time to tell almost every reporter I talk to about all of the good things at Butler, it seems like I care more about Butler’s reputation than do those being paid large salaries supposedly to protect and enhance it.


  1. I'm glad you are back--had worried that you were still very sick. Listen to your body. A healthy, rested young man will be a better advocate for the cause of free speech than an ill, tired one will be.

    You are doing a good work here, I believe, and I wish you strength and determination as you continue this fight.

  2. I can only imagine how wearing this must be on you. Jess, thank you for standing strong to make Butler a better place for all of us.

  3. Hey, does anyone know why the Collegian has stopped publishing the letters sent to them about freedom of speech issues and concerns about the administration?

  4. Come on Butler Collegian. Stay on the story !!!!!