A win for free speech and pro-life came courtesy of a California district court settlement, which ordered a professor to pay $17,000 after he tried to censor pro-life students drawing their message on the sidewalk with chalk.
Fresno State University public health professor Dr. Gregory Thatcher not only allegedly urged students from his class to erase the pro-life messages drawn by Fresno State Students for Life, he actually attempted to erase them himself.
After Thatcher’s students attempted to erase the messages, which urged students to look for pro-life health care options, he showed up and tried to bully the pro-life students by telling them they were outside of the free speech zone and thus had no right to write their messages.
One problem: the free speech zone on the campus has not existed since 2015.
Bernadette Tasy, the pro-life club’s president, confronted Thatcher, informing him that the pro-life group had permission from the university, but Thatcher remained obdurate, erasing the chalk with his shoe and snapping, “You have permission to put it down, and I have permission to get rid of it. This is our part of free speech. College campuses are not free speech areas. Do you understand? Obviously you don’t understand.”
Tasy told Fox News, “What the professor did was wrong, and the only permit a student needs to speak on campus is the First Amendment.”
Video of the confrontation between Tasy and Thatcher is here:
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) fought for the pro-life students, and won the $17,000 settlement. Thatcher owes $1,000 to Tasy and $1,000 to another student, Jesus Herrera, as well as attorneys’ fees. Thatcher was also ordered to take First Amendment training — provided by ADF.
Thatcher blustered that his insurance company would pay the fees, adding, “I did not, in any way, admit to any wrongdoing. I did agree to sit through a training seminar because I love to learn others’ thoughts and opinions.”
Tasy got right to the point, saying, “The important thing is that Dr. Thatcher won’t be able to interfere with our expressive activities again.”
Travis Barham, ADF Legal Counsel, said that Thatcher’s machinations against the First Amendment put him “in a league of his own,” adding, “This is a particularly extreme case because you have a professor trying to wipe away the chalk himself. Far too often university officials try to play the role of speech police and try to restrict what can be said and where it can be said on campus.”