By: Teresa Mull
Austin Tong, a rising senior at Fordham University in New York, is accusing the school of “Soviet-style interrogation and punishment” after he posted two photos of himself holding an AR-15.
On a GoFundMe page to raise money for his legal bills (Tong is bringing a lawsuit against the university), Tong writes:
On July 14th, I was officially punished by Fordham University in the name of probation suspension for the alleged crimes of “Violation of University Regulations relating to Bias and/or Hate Crimes”; “Threats/Intimidation,” an explicit attack on my freedom of expression for two Instagram posts I posted in June. I am no longer permitted on campus, with public safety coming to my home at midnight to question me on the day of the post, and face forced political reeducation through mandatory courses and to write an apology letter, or will face full suspension or expulsion – is this happening in America, or is this a Soviet nightmare?
In the two posts, I expressed my appreciation of the 2nd Amendment and mourning of the anniversary of a Chinese Democratic movement by posting a picture of my legally purchased rifle in my home, and my sympathetic feeling toward Black Police Officer David Dorn. The content of both posts are fully by my love for this country, fully within the boundaries of law and university code, and in no way expressing threatening or hateful thoughts – yet the University subjectively and maliciously assumed my intentions as hate crime and threat. They lied to me that if I took down the posts, I would not face punishment. Now, I decide to put back the posts and let everyone see if the accusations are truthful.
America is under attack. Americans are being silenced. I hope to use my punishment as a milestone and reflection of the Constitutional crisis we are facing today as a society. Coming to this country as an immigrant, one would think that America is a nation of law and free speech. Yet that is no longer the case. I was forcibly silenced, faced verbal and assaulting harassment from mobs, and subjected to Soviet-style interrogation and punishment by a Jesuit university that claims in its own code of conduct, that it protects “freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas. The expression of controversial ideas and differing views is a vital part of University discourse. Although the expression of an idea or point of view may be offensive or inflammatory to others, it may not constitute a hate crime or bias-related incident.” Not simply did Fordham University break its promise and punish me, but it signaled to students nationwide, that free speech is a political trap that will destroy you.
The American university betrayed its meaning as educational institutions that encourage discourse and debate, and has become centers of fear and brainwash. American society has turned its back on the rightful freedoms of its citizens. Students and all Americans must stand up for their Constitutional rights. Whether you are Republican or Democrat, no matter what race, gender, or religion, the Silent Majority shall no longer be silent. We must rise against this oppression, and take back this nation.
Tong explained in a follow-up post on social media, “To everyone and @fordhamuniversity: this post or my mentality is SOLELY for the memory of the thousands of armless students who had no method of defense and were massacred in 6.4.1989, and in no way advocating violence to anyone.
“This post is my appreciation toward the United States and the priviledge [sic] in this country to have the right to bear arms, to have a populace that can defend itself from tyranny. Tiananmen Incident is a huge deal in my motherland and to my ethnicity, and so is civil rights in America, but this post is solely my belief that freedom comes from a strong and armed populace. Violence against any citizen should not be tolerated, and the Second Amendment protects us from that.”
Teresa Mull (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of Gunpowder Magazine.