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Pushback: Arizona State University loses major donor for its anti-first amendment actions

Arizona State University: opposed to free speech

Bring a gun to a knife fight: In protest of Arizona State University’s anti-first amendment actions, a major donor, Tom Lewis, has withdrawn an annual $400K donation, used to support the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development at ASU’s Barrett College facility that Lewis had contributed more than $2 million to found.

His action was prompted by the hostility and opposition to a February 8, 2023 university event by Barrett College’s faculty, including a petition signed by 37 of 47 members, condemning the event, before it had even occurred. From his press release [pdf]:

Because these were mostly conservative speakers, we expected some opposition, but I was shocked and disappointed by the alarming and outright hostility demonstrated by the Barrett faculty and administration toward these speakers. Instead of sponsoring this event with a spirit of cooperation and respect for free speech, Barrett faculty and staff exposed the radical ideology that now apparently dominates the college.

After seeing this level of left-wing hostility and activism, I no longer had any confidence in Barrett to adhere to the terms of our gift, and made the decision to terminate our agreement, effective June 30, 2023.

Adding weight to Lewis’ decision was the fact that several weeks earlier ASU had fired the Lewis Center’s executive director, Ann Atkinson, as well as Lin Blake, the events operator for the theater where the event was held. Atkinson made it clear their termination was retaliation because they had organized the February conference.

“ASU claims to value freedom of expression. But in the end the faculty mob always wins against institutional protections for free speech,” Atkinson wrote in The Wall Street Journal last month, alleging her firing was politically motivated.

ASU claimed Atkinson’s firing was because of the loss of funding from Lewis, even though she was fired well before Lewis withdrew his support. Moreover, Atkinson had offered ASU a list of alternative funding sources.

As for Blake, the theater’s funding had not been lost. Blake had clearly been fired because she had arranged the event.

Nor is this the end of ASU’s troubles. In response to this story, the state legislature has now launched a committee to investigate the denial of free speech at ASU.

The Joint Legislative Ad Hoc Committee on Freedom of Expression at Arizona’s Public Universities will convene to hear testimony regarding the program held on February 8, 2023, and the subsequent closing of the T.W. Lewis Center in June. Author and talk show host, Dennis Prager, and former Lewis Center Director, Ann Atkinson, will be among the individuals sharing their testimony. Invitations have also been extended to ASU faculty and administration who opposed the program.

Whether that hearing, designed mostly for political posturing by these politicians, will lead to funding cuts remains unknown. Though the Arizona legislature is controlled by the Republicans and they could slash ASU’s budget if they wanted, their track record in this matters is dismal. In general, the best they do is posture, issue stern letters or hold hearings. Sometimes they pass meaningless laws that make believe they have “banned” such behavior, when in actuality nothing really has been changed.

ASU certainly has shown its hostility to the first amendment that suggests it should lose its government support. In one case it charged a student with trespassing for daring to hand out free copies of the Constitution. In another it removed the American flag so it could display the queer flag in its place. It also allowed protesters to force Kyle Rittenhouse from attending the school.

Only rarely have state legislatures actually cut the budgets of these corrupt colleges. We shall soon find out if Arizona’s Republicans really mean what they say.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


The print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Col Beausabre

    Not to worry, Soros will make p the lost funds

  • wayne

    Starship Troopers
    -An Appropriate Clip

  • Barry J. Anderson

    I am appalled that my alma mater Arizona State University has decided to repudiate the first amendment to the Constitution. Free speech is a fundamental right of all Americans. In the mid 1960’s ASU allowed Students for a Democratic Society to demonstrate on campus. Now conservatives are not allowed to speak, let alone be heard?


    Let the little jackals bark, thereby we know how far too pass by.

    It’s good to know where always limited resources shouldn’t be allocated.

    Self-obsession isn’t that great a strategy.

  • Cotour


    This new now made mega viral by the now radical and one-sided social engineering elite “We must reformulate America” American media machine country song “Try That In a Small Town” sung by Jason Aldean is very controversial, and it is apparently racist. And why is that?

    Jason Aldean – Try That In A Small Town:

    Let’s see, this is a song about a small-town American mentality where people help each other, are against rioting in the streets and burning buildings to the ground as a form of protest, against spitting in police officers’ faces, against car jackings, against stick ups, against violence in general and for an individual and their community protecting themselves.

    And the American Liberal now radical Leftist corporate “politically correct” media machine has decided that Jason Aldean and his song must be cancelled and what it communicates must be vilified.

    Now what message is the “politically correct” Liberal, Leftist now radical corporate media machine sending to you America?

    Do you agree with the “politically correct” corporate media machine? Or do you have a different interpretation of both the song and what it is about and what is ongoing in our country today?

    Are you paying attention yet America?

    ( JGL 7/20/23

  • markedup2

    I don’t think it’s _entirely_ fair to blame the fake controversy about that song on the current political climate. It’s the same reason Jefferson and Hamilton didn’t get along and the same reason Seneca and Cicero didn’t get along. The city/country divide is a very, very old one.

  • Cotour

    Of course, it is purely based in “political correctness” and “woke” corporate policies in their attempt to reshape our society and fix our past history.

    The song and video are squarely against the BLM, ANTIFA “protests” which these very same corporations were extorted to support.

    And not much extorsion was necessary because their money is free, and it just needs a reason to be redistributed.

    To take a solid stand against their social experimentation is not approved and by definition is “racist”.

    Of course it is.

  • Cotour

    To my point:

    “NEW YORK (Reuters) – The city of New York has agreed to pay $13 million to hundreds of people arrested during the 2020 George Floyd demonstrations, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs, who said it was the largest class action settlement ever paid to protesters in the United States.”

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