University of St. Thomas President Father Dennis Dease has heard from several readers regarding his characterization of Ann Coulter’s April 18 talk as “hateful speech,” and several have also forwarded Father Dease’s reply. Here is the substance of his reply:
I want to reiterate that I do not have any objections to inviting conservative speakers to our campus. In fact, we welcomed David Brooks to St. Thomas earlier this year. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and others representing conservative perspectives have been speakers on our campus.
My primary concern is Ms. Coulter’s treatment of members of the audience who asked her questions that challenged her point of view. Many individuals whose opinions I respect – students, faculty, and staff alike – reported to me that she treated in a sarcastic, disrespectful and mean-spirited manner any audience members who challenged her statements.
Ms. Coulter clearly violated our controversial issues policy, which says, among other things, that “in discussion and debate, members and guests of the university community are expected to treat one another with respect and dignity.”
We will continue to examine all requests to bring speakers from any point of view to our campus in order to assure that their behavior will comply with our controversial issues policy.
Reverend Dennis Dease
University of St. Thomas
Father Dease appears to be engaged in an unusually early attempt to rewrite history. Contrary to the statement in his email message, Father Dease’s statement on Coulter’s speech equally condemned Coulter’s “vitriolic criticism of ‘liberals'” and the allegedly “disrespectful and mean-spirited manner” with which she responded to “audience members who challenged her viewpoints.” Incidentally, I guess that would include the audience member who eloquently took the microphone to tell Coulter “Fuck you” and salute her with the middle finger of both hands (see Katie Kieffer’s report here). Father Dease’s generality serves him well; the details only muddy the waters.
Note also the following in Father Dease’s statment:
One caller who found both Ms. Coulter