Professor who erased pro-life messages will pay $17,000, receive First Amendment training

A Fresno State University professor who erased pro-life messages on campus has been ordered to pay $17,000 and to attend First Amendment training. From the Fresno Bee:

Greg Thatcher, a professor of public health, was sued in May by two students after video showed him scrubbing out messages like “women need love, not abortion” with his shoe and instructing other students to do the same. A court order filed last week forbids Thatcher from “interfering with, disrupting, defacing, or altering” any similar student activities.

Thatcher claimed the messages should be allowed only in a designated “free speech area” on campus, and says in the video that “college campuses are not free speech areas.” Fresno State does not have a designated free speech zone, and the university said after the incident that “our entire campus is open and supports freedom of expression.”

Jazz wrote about this story when it happened back in May. The pro-life group had a permit for a demonstration and also the ultimate permission in the form of the First Amendment, to offer their viewpoint on campus. That didn’t stop Thatcher from erasing their chalk messages and telling the students, “the whole idea of free speech is that we have a free speech area here on campus.” He added, “Free speech is free speech in the free speech area. It’s a pretty simple concept, okay? This does not constitute a free speech area. Okay?” Toward the end of the exchange, he summed it up, “College campuses are not free speech areas.”

The pro-life students did not agree with the condescending professor’s view of free speech and sued. Now the court has come down on the side of the students. Thatcher will pay Fresno State students Bernadette Tasy and Jesus Herrera $1,000 each in damages and pay $15,000 to the Alliance Defending Freedom which filed the lawsuit.

But the best part is this: Thatcher will have to spend 2 hours receiving remedial First Amendment training from the Alliance Defending Freedom. I suspect that will burn far more than paying the money. Imagine him sitting in a small wooden chair as ADL representatives say something like this over and over until it sinks in: “Free speech is free speech. It’s not limited to a free speech area.” And then, with a broad smile, the trainer would add, “It’s a pretty simple concept. Okay?”

If only ADF could record the entire training session with Thatcher and release it. It would make an instructive follow-up to this video from May: