A Lesbian Student Tries to Justify Deplatforming Mike Pence. And Fails.

A few days before the student newspaper demanded that Mike Pence be deplatformed at the University of Virginia, a first year student named Elisabeth Bass had an opinion piece published by the same newspaper.  Bass is a first year student who also is a lesbian.  Her article is entitled, “Rescind Mike Pence’s speaking offer:  The University’s problems with homophobia should not be worsened by Mike Pence speaking here next month.”  I’ll critically analyze her arguments for one simple reason – they are the strongest arguments out there that can be made to censor Pence. 

So let’s see how they hold up.

Bass begins as follows:

Young Americans for Freedom at U.Va. has announced that former vice president Mike Pence will speak at Old Cabell Hall April 12. Nick Cabrera, chairman of YAF and third-year College student, called the University’s political climate “nearly inhospitable towards conservatives,” adding that bringing Pence to Grounds “will allow for a reinvigorated sense of intellectual diversity across Jefferson’s campus.” 

So Pence was not invited by the administration to give a speech to the whole university.  He was invited by a student organization and was going to speak to conservatives, who are indeed marginalized on many campuses.  Yet Bass and her colleagues want to deny these students the opportunity to hear someone speak who also shares their values.  Bass not only wants to censor Pence, she wants to deny opportunities for her fellow students.

Bass continues:

I will begin by saying that I respect the fact that conservatives have the freedom to speak their opinions. 

This is a dishonest statement.  Someone who “respects the fact that conservatives have the freedom to speak their opinions” doesn’t try to cancel their speeches. 

At the same time, I would also argue that as a school, when certain opinions go against students’ safety, we must question if those speakers should be welcomed on Grounds.

Here comes the hyperbole and melodrama.  Opinions go against students’ safety?  Huh?  This is dishonesty.  No one’s safety is being, or has ever been, threatened by a Mike Pence speech.  People like Bass need to stop pretending otherwise.  If you read the announcement she linked to in her article, you’ll find this about Pence:

This campus lecture follows previous stops at University of Iowa, Texas A&M University, and Stanford University.

So where is the evidence that anyone at the University of Iowa, Texas A&M University, and Stanford University was harmed by Pence’s speech?  Well?  I see none.  Not a scrap.  Nothing. Zero, zilch, nada.  The reason Bass has no evidence for just one person being harmed by a Mike Pence speech is because her claims are untrue.  We can dismiss her complaints for what they are – dishonest spin and posturing.

She has more to add:

Pence’s presence should not be welcomed, nor should the University allow speakers on Grounds who deny the full humanity of all students. 

Pure nonsense.  I am quite sure that Mike Pence has not denied the humanity of any students at the University of Virginia.  I’m quite sure he recognizes they are all human.  Bass, of course, has no evidence that Pence denies anyone’s “humanity.”

Bass has more:

Pence is notoriously homophobic. He has supported federal funding to treat people “seeking to change their sexual behavor,” which is quite the roundabout way to say you support conversion therapy. And according to a timeline made by the Indiana Democratic Party, he also voted against the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law in 2010. In 2004, Pence co-sponsored an amendment to the Constitution seeking to define marriage as a union between one woman and one man. Most recently, he has worked with the Heritage Foundation, which has been described as “an intensely anti-LGBTQ+ group.” I could go on, but what is apparent is that Pence — in his own words — does not view same-sex relationships as equal to heterosexual relationships. 

Yeah…..and nowhere in the entire anti-Pence paragraph does Bass provide a single example of Pence denying that LGBT students are human.  She brags that she “could go on,” when I’m still waiting for just one example where Pence denies the humanity of LGBT students.

My main point is that, in my own experience, the climate at the University is already difficult for some LGBTQ+ students. Mike Pence coming to speak will only make that worse — he should not be invited.

Bass has yet to figure out the world does not revolve around her and her experiences.  Again, Pence has given these speeches on other campuses.  Where is the evidence that one of his speech’s “made it worse” for the LGBT students on that campus?  All I see is Bass being frightened by her own spin and melodrama.

As a lesbian, I have struggled significantly during my time at the University. I came out towards the end of my senior year of high school and did not feel comfortable acknowledging my sexuality in my hometown. I figured college would be this amazing place to learn who I was and express that safely. I could not have been more wrong.

Now we may be getting closer to the real problem.  Bass expected the university to be some type of Gay Paradise and feels let down. 

Last semester, being gay here and dealing with homophobia became too much. As a first year, I struggled with what my expectations of college were supposed to be, especially as it related to being true to myself and my sexuality. I believe in complete honesty, which is why I will share that I became depressed and suicidal last semester over how othered I felt here. I was made to feel like there was something wrong with me because I am gay. I seriously considered transferring. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to stay here and fight for equality and change so that future LGBTQ+ students would never have to feel the way that I did. 

First, various studies have found that somewhere between 30 and 40% of college students suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts.   So Bass does not exist in some type of uniquely special, uncomfortable position. 

Second, is there any evidence that a Mike Pence speech at a university was followed by a significant increase LGBT student suicides?  Any? 

Third, I have a hard time believing Bass’s account.  Campuses everywhere are VERY accepting of LGBT students.   For example, is there something wrong with the LGBTQ student services at UVa?

Love is Love

I bring up my personal experience because I want to emphasize that there are students on Grounds deeply impacted by the decision made by YAF to invite Pence to speak. 

Yet, they don’t need to be.  They don’t have to attend the speech.  They don’t have to listen to it.  They can easily ignore it.  If it is brought up in the classroom, it is mostly likely it’s because a leftwing professor wants to bash and/or mock Pence. 

 Nearly a third of gay young people have attempted suicide. It is important to discuss why this occurs. It has been found that gay individuals often attempt suicide due to discrimination and bullying

They attempt it, but rarely succeed.  The same site she links to also mentions “To date, there is no empirical data regarding the number of completed suicides within the LBGT community.”  If the number was large, I don’t think we’d be in the dark about this.

Anyway, we’re back to there being no evidence that a Mike Pence speech has caused an increase in the suicide rate among LGBT students. 

Actions taken by politicians, like Pence, create discriminatory situations that can lead to gay individuals struggling. It is important to consider how serious inviting someone like Pence to speak at the University is and think about how LGBTQ+ students will be affected. 

Once again, Pence has spoken at many universities.  And so have many others “like Pence.”  Where is the evidence that these speakers, giving their speeches,  have caused any of the serious problems Bass frets about?  There is none to be found.  Is it becoming more clear just how empty Bass’s “argument” is?

I do not feel comfortable being in an academic environment where anti-LGBTQ+ individuals are welcomed with open arms to speak.

Pence is welcomed by a student organization.  So why doesn’t Bass just called the expulsion of the Young Americans for Freedom? 

The University prides itself on the concept of the academical village, where Grounds is both a home and an institution of higher learning. We cannot invite people into our home who deny any part of our community or its humanity.

A key part of the academic experience (ideally) is to develop critical thinking abilities.  If you value critical thinking, you’ll notice how Bass’s argument relies on emotion and rhetoric instead of relevant evidence.  For once again, notice she has retreated into the fantasy world where Pence is coming to deny her humanity. 

I sincerely hope that we as University students can consider how to help our fellow students feel safe and welcome.

And one way to feel safe is to develop critical thinking skills so you are not so easily swayed by hyperbole and fear-mongering. 

 We can disagree on things like our favorite dining hall, or more political arguments like tax policy, but we should not disagree on one another’s humanity.

And Bass lashes out again at her imaginary monsters.  No one is denying the humanity of LGBT students. 

The community of trust begins with respecting and welcoming all students. This can start with YAF rescinding its offer for Pence to speak. 

Welcoming all students means welcoming conservative students too.  This can start with Elisabeth Bass, and her student newspaper colleagues, allowing the YAF to invite someone who shares their values.

In the end, Bass fails to make her case because her key claims are without any evidential support.  There is no evidence a Mike Pence speech is going to cause LGBT students to commit suicide.  There is no evidence a Mike Pence speech has made LGBT students “unsafe.”  There is no evidence that Mike Pence speeches at previous campuses have left a trail of death and destruction. 

Bass brings nothing more than hyperbole and fear-mongering to the table, which are easily refuted with a modest expression of critical thinking.

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11 Responses to A Lesbian Student Tries to Justify Deplatforming Mike Pence. And Fails.

  1. Ilíon says:

    As always with these intellectually dishonest people: “Your speech is violence; my violence is speech.”

  2. TFBW says:

    Leftist Lesbian Lacks Principles. Film at 11. In other news, water still wet.

  3. Sounds like a horrible person who just happens to be a lesbian, but who thinks any negative treatment she receives is because of the latter when it’s more likely due to the former.

  4. Ilíon says:

    In her defense, N2C, anything short of enthusiastic worship is such “negative treatment” that it is equivalent to “killing” her.

  5. Ilíon says:

    Everyone knows that the way to kill a god/goddess is to stop worshiping him/her.

  6. Dhay says:

    ^ I spy Terry Pratchett.

  7. Ilíon says:

    ^ Perhaps. But, hadn’t the Sumerians noticed that thousands of years ago?

  8. pennywit says:

    A better approach would be tp challenge ADF to allow at least a certain percentage of questions asked to Pence to originate with the LGBTQ community. Or to challenge/invite Pence to meet with a campus LGBTQ group and answer some hard questions from them.

    I have no patience for the “his words are hurting my feelings, therefore ban him” crap.

  9. TFBW says:

    A better approach would be tp challenge ADF to allow at least a certain percentage of questions asked to Pence to originate with the LGBTQ community.

    The Alphabet Activists do not want that. They have an ideology to protect, and they know that anything Pence says is potentially a threat to it. Allowing him to answer questions, no matter how loaded, is nothing but an opportunity to make their position look weak. He might have good answers! They can’t afford that! It would legitimate their opposition, whose legitimacy they have fought long and hard to undermine.

  10. pennywit says:

    He might have good answers!

    Not to mention that the Pences, in general, are adept at negotiating this kind of thing. Recall the Marlon Bundo parody book. Charlotte Pence was 100 percent class in how she handled it.

  11. Kevin says:

    They cry that Pence ensures he is never in a position that someone could accuse him of cheating on his wife. At this point they just hate him for having some sort of standard of behavior.

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