Purdue: First Amendment Protects ‘Outrageous’ Threats of Rape Against Pro-Life Students

Students for Life
Students for Life

Purdue University’s legal counsel has responded to Breitbart News’ request for comment. It says that, because the school is publicly funded, it is obligated under the First Amendment to protect the free speech of its employee Jamie Newman, who allegedly threatened to rape pro-life students on campus.

Brian Zink, with the office of Purdue University president and former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, forwarded a response to Breitbart News from the school’s legal counsel Steve Schultz:

As we’ve already indicated, a threat of rape is outside the bounds of any definition of protected speech. And if it appeared that Mr. Newman had any such intention, he would have been terminated immediately. But the police investigation tells us that there was, and is, no real threat to the campus community. That finding does not foreclose the possibility of other employment-related actions based on Purdue’s internal complaint processes.

The disruption we’ve endured as a community is entirely due to Mr. Newman’s online posts. Anything other than a full apology and explanation from him about the intent of his statement will be insufficient to cure the harm he’s done.

It’s fortunate for Mr. Newman that he works at a public university both obligated under the First Amendment and committed by principle to protect free speech — even speech as abhorrent as his. Had he uttered such an outrageous and vulgar statement while working for a private college or other private employer, he would almost certainly have been fired on the spot. Mr. Newman’s obnoxious rhetoric is an embarrassment for Purdue, but our special obligations as a public institution impose a much higher threshold before condemnation can be extended to punishment.

Newman, a visual-arts department accompanist and composer, was cleared by Purdue as far as his immediate employment there is concerned after events last week in which Purdue Students for Life placed posters on campus to mark Black History Month. The posters emphasized the disproportionate numbers of black babies aborted in the United States.

Among Newman’s reported responses to the pro-life students’ display was a post on the group’s Facebook site that read, “You folks are vile, racist idiots, who richly deserve all the opprobrium that will be heaped on you as a result of this unbelievably thoughtless, stupid escapade…”

On the website of pro-life organization Live Action News, Newman allegedly posted via his Disqus account the following comments in response to those of pro-life commenters:

  • “No, no, no. I’d only rape someone if you were watching, because i know it would turn you on to see a beautiful new baby conceived in real time. Last I checked, you weren’t my wife.
  • “Maybe you’d get a thrill holding her down as I rape her, knowing that the three of us would be engaged in the joyful task of making a baby.”
  • “Oh, I’m sorry. So, let me make my intentions quite explicit: I did in fact offer to rape Tom’s wife/daughter/great grandmother. Free of charge, even. I’m generous that way.

More of Newman’s alleged comments can be found in Breitbart News’ prior report about the incident.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.