There is an interesting lawsuit filed against the University of Oregon after Portland State University Professor Bruce Gilley was blocked from a social media account. Gilley claims that he was blocked after he tweeted “all men are created equal.” The lawsuit names Tova Stabin, communication manager for the university’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, as the sole defendant. Gilley may believe that “all men are equal” but the censoring of his post suggests that, as in Orwell’s Animal Farm, “some are more equal than others” at the University of Oregon.
Gilley told College Fix that he viewed the lawsuit as necessary to protect academic freedom values.
The controversy began on June 14, when UO’s Equity and Inclusion Twitter account tweeted “You can interrupt racism” with a wording prompt on how to start a conversation about racism: “It sounded like you just said [blank]. Is that what you really meant?”
Gilley responded with a posting that “all men are created equal,” tagging both the University of Oregon and its Equity and Inclusion Twitter accounts. That is when Stabin allegedly blocked Gilley and “[b]locking also removed Bruce Gilley’s ‘all men are created equal’ reply from @UOEquity’s timeline and prevented other users from viewing it or interacting with it, and with Gilley, including followers of the @UOEquity account.”
The complaint alleges “Tova Stabin blocked him from the Equity Division’s Twitter account, because he promotes a colorblind viewpoint with which she, and her employer, disagree. Stabin’s blocking constitutes impermissible viewpoint discrimination, and it violates the First Amendment.”
Here is the screenshot from the Complaint:
College Fix reported that Gilley has been previously targeted in 2018 after authoring a book in defense of colonialism and his course on conservative political thought was canceled by Portland State.
Gilley’s complaint details his dissenting views on the faculty:
“50. Bruce Gilley categorically rejects his employer’s claims that his university sits on “stolen land” and resists attempts by his employer to impose the ideology of diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. He has previously declined to sign a “black lives matter” statement because it amounts to an ideological pledge. He also resists what he views as the ideological indoctrination of students.
51. Bruce Gilley is a critic of the DEI principles promoted by the Division, VPEI and defendant Stabin, because he believes that DEI calls for discrimination against university faculty, students, and applicants who are not members of groups favored by the Division, VPEI and defendant Stabin.
52. He also believes that the principles they promote are based on what is called “critical theory,” which threatens freedom of thought at Oregon universities; including by labeling competing ideas, such as colorblindness, as “racist,” “white supremacist,” “oppressive,” and otherwise “unsafe” to express in public.”
As a state school, the University of Oregon is subject to the full weight of the First Amendment, making such censorship a viable legal claim. The notice of his blocking clearly shows the school emblem on the page:
We previously discussed Oregon’s checkered history on free speech, including its announced program to monitor social media accounts. It has also faced controversies like removing its famous Pioneer statue. Even the school’s president has faced cancel campaigns from campus activists. Conversely, the school honored a professor who assaulted pro-life activists.