September 24, 2008

The University of Illinois tells all its employees they can't wear political buttons or attend political rallies on campus.

And if their cars have political bumper stickers, they can't park them in campus lots!

ADDED: I understand the focus on bumper stickers. Too much transparency if the faculty parking lot has rows and rows of Obama stickers.

46 comments:

Seven Machos said...

The University of Illinois: Zero tolerance for good football or political expression!

Oh well. It's a place easily avoided. Kids with any sense will find a way to become pimps and get themselves admitted to Princeton.

Bob R said...

That would sure free up a lot of parking spaces around here. Sounds like a plan.

Regardless of the legality of this rule, I find political campaigning by faculty in classrooms to be bad manners at best and unprofessional at worst.

rhhardin said...

Banning opinions is a good idea all around.

goesh said...

- they want to even geld the janitors??

The Drill SGT said...

well Im sure that this hurts Dems alot more than the gop, like what, 20-1?

However, it is clearly unconstituional (see Morse v. Frederick) or Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District)

I'm amazed that the"Ethics" officer did this. I guess they can't afford legal advice before hand?

I do however agree with bob, and think that profs pitching for their guys is bad form.

Concerned Citizen said...

The story references a bumpersticker that reads

"MY SAMOYED IS A DEMOCRAT"

That's a classic reason why the Democratic Party has a hard time reaching blue-collar people.

What the heck is a 'samoyed'?

A dog? If it is, it ain't a mutt.

David said...

Have fun enforcing this one.

Shanna said...

The federal government doesn't even go that far (for federal employees)! The Hatch Act says you can't campaign while at work or run for office, but I don't think anybody cares what bumper sticker you have on the car.

BlogDog said...

Concerned Citizen:
That dog will hunt.
But it won't use "high-powered sniper rifles" or "assault weapons" to do so.

Chap said...

Long ago, like when Nixon was campaigning, the military went through the exact reverse of this--the Army had to allow a guy to have a bumper sticker on his car parked on base. Interesting to see that speech is more repressed one place than the other.

And OBTW the more suppressing thing around here (anecdotal evidence only) is that the O fans I know proudly put their stickers on, the Libertarians put all sorts of stickers on, but the McC stickers were not to be seen because the car owners were worried that someone would key their car again.

Original Mike said...

I think Ann nails it. This is designed to hide the lack of diversity amongst the faculty. The smart ones will realize this. The dumb ones will express their outrage.

Christy said...

Is this a rope-a-dope plot by Rove? Why? Illinois isn't even in play. Or is is simply a way for the Profs at UoI to get more attention for Obama? An immolation of the disciples when they ignore the ban?

Anthony said...

Considering I come from a mixed marriage (I am a McCain supporter, my wife an Obama supporter) there are no political stickers on my car.

I do have a sticker on my car that says "Bumperstickers are not the answer"

ErnieG said...

Another reason for the 20:1 ratio might be that in some places a McCain/Palin sticker is a good way to get your car keyed.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

I understand the focus on bumper stickers. Too much transparency if the faculty parking lot has rows and rows of Obama stickers.

Yes, if you spend your time looking for outrage, you could probably walk through the Parking Lots at the UW and find something to get all harrumphed about.

But why live your life that way?

As an experiment, I promise to ride my bike through a lot and see what kind of BS* I find.

* = Bumper Stickers, not Bullsh*t :)

Richard Fagin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Fagin said...

How about bringing back those NUKE THE WHALES bumper stickers?

Then there's my favorite: "Jesus loves you. Everyone else thinks you're an asshole."

What is the admin at UI smoking, anyway?

Michael said...

Probably not a bad decision by UIUC given the depth of political feeling among professors there.

I was a physics grad student taking a quantum chromodynamics class when I had my first exposure to the depth of political feeling at UIUC.

During a lecture, the grader came in and dropped off the grades on a homework set. The lecturer glanced at the grades and was disappointed in how well we did. He said, roughly, "Well, given this poor performance, I guess you're all voting for Reagan."

The grader, on his way out, turned and said, "I'm voting for Reagan."

The lecturer threw his eraser at the grader with considerable force and uttered a few epithets.

kentuckyliz said...

My favorite generic bumper sticker, usable for any presidential election year:

Lesser Evil for President!

holycheebis said...

Drill SGT,

Tinker v. Des Moines was about free speech among students, and Morse v. Frederick actually restricted speech for students (although I'd argue this was decided incorrectly and will eventually be overturned).

That said -- this makes sense from the taxpayers-paying-professor's salaries angle, but from a common sense perspective it doesn't. They should have punished individual professors for inappropriate behavior (like stumping for one candidate in a classroom), not issued a blanket ban on anything showing political affiliation.

MadisonMan said...

not issued a blanket ban on anything showing political affiliation.

But that's the way things are done these days. Zero tolerance means zero thinking is involved. Administrators like not having to think.

Peter V. Bella said...

It is the University of Illinois, a state funded institution. The people who work there- yes professors are actually employees- are State of Illinois employees.

If the Ethics Department deems the stickers, pins, buttons, etc. a problem, the employees must comply or in the great American tradition, sue.

I believe there is a state law prohibiting State of Illinois employees from displaying political items while working or on state supported land during working hours. The ethics commitee is ensuring compliance.

BTW, I personally think it is silly, just silly, and cuckoo- in the words of the mental midget Richard M. Daley.

Peter V. Bella said...

I saw a bumber sticker the other day; "Who would Jesus bomb?" I started making a list. Man, it waqs a long one.

Chip Ahoy said...

That still leaves t-shirts, jean patches, posters in classrooms, writing on windows, placards, windshield sunscreens with political messages, flags, political films run in classrooms, hats, coffee mugs with political messages, shoes with names written on them, parrots trained to say things, biased school plays, invited speakers, canes with candidate's names running up the length, names 'accidentally' slipped into daily roll call, subliminal messages inserted into ordinary messages over the PA system, mass text messaging, scarves, belts, ties, shoe laces, names stenciled onto seats.

PatCA said...

Of course, this would only affect Democrats. Republicans at universities know better than to put stickers on their cars.

DaveG said...

It's not their fault that the Toyota Prius now comes from the factory with an Obama '08 sticker as standard equipment.

Or so it seems, anyway.

cabofthefuture said...

Slightly off topic regarding the original post, but, my two favorite recent bumper stickers:
Is there life after death?
Touch my car and find out.

and

I suffer from CRS
Can't remember sh*t.

John Hawkins said...

They just don't want to be forced into the uncomfortable position of a police investigation into some campus Democrat group caught vandalizing cars with GOP stickers or assaulting a prof wearing a GOP button.

laura said...

MM: I'm seeing them on bikes around town, as well.

stoqboy said...

Among my favorite bumper stickers: Imagine Whirled Peas.

kynefski said...

It seems odd that a university office would issue a policy that is unenforceable when applied to faculty. Yes, you can force a clerical employee to remove a campaign button, but you want to try that with a professor? Good luck. Why they didn't think of this is anybody's guess.

My two favorite bumper stickers:
You Can't Hug a Child with Shackled Arms
Question Banality

BladeDoc said...

Cthulu for president
Why settle for the lesser evil?

JBlog said...

I thought that was sort of the academic credo anymore:

We believe in freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas -- except when we don't.

Iapetus said...

At my state university, faculty paste Obama decals on their university-owned laptops and think there's nothing unethical about that. How obtuse can one get?

MadisonMan said...

My favorite bumper sticker is still Jesus is coming....Look busy. That just strikes me as hilarious for some reason that I can't explain.

Pogo said...

MadisonMan said "Zero tolerance means zero thinking is involved. Administrators like not having to think."

Abso-effin-lutely right.
This is using a cannon when a flyswatter would do; using a neutron bomb to wipe out all evidence of thought, where a sharply-worded memo from the chair would have been more effective and less divisive.

Anthony said...

>My favorite bumper sticker is still Jesus is coming....Look busy. That just strikes me as hilarious for some reason that I can't explain.

Supposedly, Pope John XXIII is said to have made that remark when asked what a churchman should do if Jesus returned.

laura said...

The bumper sticker on our Civic is a giant band-aid covering a small hole in the bumper (that I made, backing up into a boulder)...ouch. The car was only 10 days old...

Revenant said...

This strikes me as being more about the UofI feebly trying to maintain plausible deniability than it is about political expression itself.

Universities like to sell themselves as places where open inquiry is welcome. The reality is that they are mostly wall to wall lefties among the faculty, and tolerance of non-leftie thinking ranges from low to nonexistant. Universities can and do deny this, of course -- but the denial is hard to take seriously when the staff deck themselves out like a bunch of Obama campaign workers.

In short, when 19 out of 20 faculty cars has an Obama bumper sticker and the 20th has a Nader one, it becomes harder to keep a straight face when discussing the diversity of your faculty.

blake said...

Rev is, I think, correct.

Which dovetails nicely with this Protein Wisdom piece.
It's about the media's apparent success in foisting the entire blame for the economy on to the Republicans, and dangers of the pretense of objectivity.

kynefski said...

The reality is that they are mostly wall to wall lefties among the faculty, and tolerance of non-leftie thinking ranges from low to nonexistant.

Well, yeah, there is something to that. But whenever the intolerance of the left is referenced, I ask people to imagine the reaction, in February 2003, to an academic saying, at a public forum, "Personally, I think Secretary Powell is lying."

Dumpsterjuice said...

VOTE CTHULU
Why settle for the lesser of two evils?

My bumper sticker

Revenant said...

But whenever the intolerance of the left is referenced, I ask people to imagine the reaction, in February 2003, to an academic saying, at a public forum, "Personally, I think Secretary Powell is lying."

I don't have to imagine it. I witnessed it; the response was usually enthusiastic applause from the rest of the faculty.

When lefties sniveled that their opposition to the war was being "suppressed", what they really meant was that people where arguing back. The typical university leftie never actually has to debate anyone to the right of, say, Hillary Clinton. Suddenly they found themselves being -- gasp! -- critcized! And in the same manner they usually criticized others!

To them, this looked like "suppression". To the rest of us it looked like an open exchange of ideas -- something common in the real world, but almost unheard of in a university faculty.

Jerome Cole said...

Universities are fora designed specifically for learning, teaching, self-expression, and intellectual criticism. Universities have very little in common with welfare offices, police stations, courthouses, jails, etc. It is easy to see how overtly political displays would cause problems in those settings. But how could this be the case in a university? What government interest is furthered by restricting political expression inside an institution of higher education in such a heavy handed manner?

blake said...

What government interest is furthered by restricting political expression inside an institution of higher education in such a heavy handed manner?

Plausible deniability.