- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2001

When the Independent Womens Forum bought advertising space in the UCLA Daily Bruin this spring to list and rebut 10 of "the most common feminist myths" (see www.iwf.org), it was not the IWF and its arguments that provoked feminist ire on the sprawling West Los Angeles campus. That is, there were no calls to debate the refreshingly anti-establishment womens organization. Nor was there a flurry of written rebuttals to the IWF ad (the paper carried approximately two dissenting letters), meetings or discussion groups. Instead, campus feminists, represented by the UCLA Clothesline Project and the Coalition for the Fair Representation of Women, rallied at a local park to protest the appearance of the ad in the Bruin, and to demand both a retraction and an apology from the newspaper for having run the ad in the first place. So much for the spirit of debate.

"We want them to retract the publishing of this ad," the Clothesline Project´s Christie Scott told the newspaper. "We do want an apology, but most of all we want this not to happen again."

What, precisely, is not supposed to "happen again" the publication in the press of a fact-backed argument with which these groups disagree? The sentiment Ms. Scott expresses, shared by her campus cohorts, is nothing less than chilling. (It somehow fits that the Clothesline Project, the national organization Ms. Scott serves as UCLA "co-chair," is an organization devoted neither to debate or study, but to the macabre and even Dada-esque commemoration of sex crimes with clothesline displays of t-shirts color-coded by crime red, orange and pink for rape, blue and green for incest, black for sexual harassment and multi-colors for multi-crimes.)

The Bruin, to its credit, has refused to apologize for or retract the ad much to the consternation of campus feminists who had hoped to pressure the paper to follow the craven lead of UC Berkeley´s Daily Californian, which earlier this year apologized for printing David Horowitz´s famous ten-point argument against reparations for slavery. (At the time, the Bruin refused to run the Horowitz ad altogether, claiming it was too controversial.) Now, Bruin editors argue the IWF case as a simple First Amendment issue an argument Ms. Scott has derided as "somewhat cowardly." "This isn´t going to lead to open discussion," she said, "It´s so violent in nature and is presented in such a hostile way."

Since when are points and statistics on a page "violent" or "hostile"? Maybe, just maybe, when they become too difficult to rebut. In their obvious reluctance to joust, fact to fact, in a debate of ideas, campus feminists reveal not only their loathing for the First Amendment (which has been bolstered by political correctness), but also their fear of it. Why else try to stifle someone else´s freedom of speech, rather than more vigorously exercise one´s own?

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