By Joseph Farah
February 07, 2008
You might think one of the qualifications for being appointed president of a prestigious institution of higher learning would be a basic understanding of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
After all, the First Amendment, like the rest of the nation's founding charter, is written in plain English – straightforward, modern language that should be comprehensible to a grade-school student.
Nevertheless, the president of the historic College of William & Mary in Virginia has shown you can believe the First Amendment prohibits the free exercise of religion and protects obscenity and indecency and be welcomed into the hallowed fraternity of college administration.
In fact, such upside-down thinking may be a requirement for such a distinguished post.
That's what I deduce from the latest pronouncements of morality from Gene Nichol, the current bearer of that title at the Williamsburg university. Tell me if I'm off base.
Nichol came to national news prominence in 2006 when he supported a decision by his administrators to remove a cross from William & Mary's famous Wren Chapel.
It seems some anonymous person was offended by this show of religious faith in the public square.
After students and alumni put together a petition of more than 10,000 names protesting the bizarre banishment, Nichol folded like a bad poker hand.
Then he did the really courageous thing – passed the buck to a special committee. The special committee made the Solomon-like decision to put the cross in a permanent glass display, apparently to cut down on its cosmic powers to corrupt men's minds and hearts, but to make it available for use during "appropriate religious services."
So that's the background on this weasel. Personally, I never thought we'd hear from him again after his harrowing experience of being humiliated by a cross. I thought he would hire a good public relations firm to keep him out of the news – out of the way of controversy.
But there was our man Nichol again just a few days ago. This time, the man who banished the cross because one anonymous e-mailer was "offended," was standing up brave and tall for what he claimed was "the First Amendment and the defining traditions of openness that sustain universities."
And what "traditions" are those?
Well, in this case, Nichol was defending a live campus sex show in which performers parade around on stage in G-strings, pasties and not much else. They talk openly about sex toys, include male and female prostitutes reveling in the excitement of their professions. The show might even violate local county ordinances against public nudity. But, none of that bothered Nichol because, as he explained, students requested the show. They voted to spend their fees on it and, as we all know, the show must go on.
Gene Nichol has had his say. Now I'd like to share mine. This is a lecture I would be only too happy to offer at William & Mary should the student council determine it would really like some controversy on campus.
Why is it that one "offended" person is enough to remove a piece of history and a profound spiritual and cultural symbol from a famous chapel on campus, while a sex show designed specifically to offend the moral sensibilities of the kind of people who founded William & Mary and many who still attend it is welcomed?
I'd love to invite Gene Nichol all the space he needs to explain this contradiction right here in WND. My guess is he doesn't have the cojones. (And, in case he doesn't know what cojones are, I invite him to ask the sex show performers.)
One more point needs to be made on the First Amendment.
Never in their wildest imaginations did the Founding Fathers intend for the guarantee of freedom of speech rights to be used to excuse or rationalize exploitative licentiousness, obscenity, pornography and vulgar exhibitions of the kind approved by Gene Nichol and the College of William & Mary, proudly overseen these days by former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O'Connor, who serves as chancellor.
The First Amendment serves four principal purposes – and only four principal purposes:
* to protect religious freedom
* to protect political speech
* to protect the free press
* to protect the right of citizens to hold government accountable
Only someone with advanced degrees from other morally bankrupt institutions of higher learning could ever be so confused as to suggest it protects public indecency, public nudity, public vulgarity and public obscenity.