This article appeared online at TheNewAmeerican.com on Thursday, October 27, 2022:
Maggie DeJong isn’t unique among Christians being persecuted on college campuses across the land. But her case — DeJong v. Pembrook — is unique in the college’s method to quash her First Amendment-protected right to speak her mind about her faith: a no contact order.
The professors in the Art Therapy Program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) issued a “no contact” order — virtually a restraining order — against DeJong last February, demanding that she no longer have any interaction, direct or indirect, with three of the students in her tiny class.
“That’s what this case is about: the unconstitutional censorious actions of officials at … SIUE,” wrote her attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in its opening remarks in DeJong’s lawsuit against the university.
The order from the school neatly ignored DeJong’s First Amendment-protected rights by simply ordering her to stay away from those three students: no prior hearings, no charges that DeJong had somehow violated school policies or rules in her interactions with them. Instead, it was a demand from on high:
This Order is not an indication of responsibility for a violation of University policy; rather it is intended to prevent interactions [between DeJong and those three offended students] that could be perceived by either party as unwelcome, retaliatory, intimidating, or harassing.
When DeJong learned of the restraining order that had been issued against her, she protested to one of her professors. The conversation revealed the pro-communist, Marxist indoctrination camp that SIEU has become:
DeJong: I feel this push [from the program] to not hold to my worldview. But it feels like you are coming from a very distinct worldview as well.
So, if [you’re] really accepting this postmodern approach — like everybody has “their truth” — then why am I not allowed to align with my truth?
Professor George: It’s actually a James Baldwin quote that’s coming to mind to explain it: “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”
DeJong: But then, who determines? Because that’s a very dangerous thing, too. It’s very concerning [over] who determines who silences whom.
The above-quoted James Baldwin was so close to the communists who had infiltrated the American Civil Rights movement in the 1960s that the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) was still celebrating him years after his death.
The ADF attorneys made much of the fact that DeJong’s disagreements were in love, not enmity. At the end of more than 40 text messages exchanged between DeJong and one of the students who complained to the school, DeJong wrote this:
DeJong: I wanted to reiterate to you today how much I value you.
Even though we don’t agree. I see a beautiful heart and compassion for children in you. A strong warrior. And honestly a hilarious personality that I think is so necessary when we find ourselves taking ourselves to[o] seriously in our program.
I just can’t express enough the goodness you bring and I didn’t want that to get washed out with our disagreement last night.
What is more important that you know this, than anything else: sorry if this follow up is annoying. But I am okay risking being annoying if it means I can express this to you. Have a beautiful Saturday.
Student 3: I know. Last night is not how I wanted that conversation to go. I value you too.
Five days after DeJong’s attorneys sent a letter to SIUE warning the school that it was violating free-speech rights, the school rescinded the noxious no contact order.
Following graduation, and further consultation with ADF, DeJong filed suit over the matter, asking for punitive damages and a formal judgment that the school violated her First Amendment-guaranteed rights, along with attorneys’ fees.
When asked why, ADF attorney Gregg Walters noted:
Maggie has always respectfully shared her religious or political views, which every student is entitled to do under the First Amendment. It is a sad day for civil dialogue and freedom of speech when universities can issue gag orders like those issued against Maggie for nothing more than expressing her beliefs — beliefs held by millions of Americans….
[DeJong] asked the university to change their unconstitutional policies, and the university hasn’t done that. So, she’s not the last student that will be impacted by these policies that censor student speech….
[One of the goals of the lawsuit is] to challenge these policies and ensure that students are able to speak freely on campus about their beliefs.
That case — DeJong v. Pembrook — is pending. The New American will watch for developments and keep readers informed of any outcome.