Silenced in Speech Class

FrontPageMagazine | Gregory Gethard | Feb. 27, 2009

On many campuses across the country freedom of speech only extends to people who have politically correct viewpoints. The most recent example occurred on the campus of the Los Angeles City College. Jonathan Lopez, a student in a public speaking class, gave a speech opposing against gay marriage, an opinion shared by many Christians. It’s also shared by most Californians, as Lopez’ remarks came just weeks after California voted to narrow the definition of marriage to be between a man and a woman.

However, Lopez was not allowed to complete his speech. Professor John Matteson interrupted his remarks, labeling him as a “fascist bastard” in the process. After class, Lopez approached Matteson to ask him about his grade. Matteson responded to Lopez by saying, “Why don’t you ask God what your grade is?”

It wasn’t the first time Matteson made such disparaging remarks. Earlier in the semester, before Californian voters determined the fate of Proposition 8, Matteson said that anyone who supported the measure was a “fascist bastard.”

What’s most shocking is that this happened in a public speaking course. Courses such as this should be where students should feel most at home speaking about their viewpoints. It’s absolutely the last place where a professor should interject his opinions on a subject onto the rest of the classroom. But Matteson went beyond expressing his own opinion; he actively abused and punished a student with whom he disagreed. Fascist bastard, indeed.

This incident occurred at a state-run, public college which is part of the Los Angeles Community College District umbrella. The District’s website touts the “diversity” of its student body as one of its strengths, and claims to educate three times as many Latino students and nearly four times as many African-American students as all of the University of California campuses combined.

But diversity means more than just placing the pictures of minority students on a website. It also includes allowing for a free exchange of ideas, which also includes the viewpoints of those who have conservative and/or religious leanings. Too often, those “disagreeable” views are silenced on college campuses. For all its professed admiration of “diversity,” one can only hope that one day Los Angeles City College will embrace the true meaning of the word.

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Comments

  1. It certainly seems like calling a student a “fascist bastard” is inappropriate and unprofessional behavior.

    Have any news sources published the text of Lopez’s speech, or a description of his words from anyone other than Lopez (or the teacher?)

  2. This is preposterous. I am for gay marriage and I side with the movement. But if I have the right to voice my beliefs in a classroom amongst peers then this young man should have the right to do so as well, without ridicule from his own professor.

    We all have conflicting opinions on many issues. But this country is what it is because we are free to discuss our views openly. Discussion, analysis, debates – these are the very things which move us forward, which keep progress going.

    This professor should be severely reprimanded or even fired for treating a student in this manner. Could you imagine what would happen if a conservative professor said such things to a liberal-minded student???

    Dignity on both sides is a must.

  3. Phil – I have found this news story in the Los Angeles Times relating to the incident. I guess we will see what happens:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/politics/cal/la-me-speech16-2009feb16,0,6896300.story