All it took was 140 characters for Texas Christian University to suspend a conservative student who posted a series of social networking posts that insulted the Islamic State, the Baltimore rioters and Mexicans.
TCU banned Harry Vincent from most campus activities, ordered him to perform 60 hours of community service and attend a diversity training class.
The 19-year-old, who is a member of the College Republicans and the Young Americans for Freedom, said he was told by the university that his conservative views were “inappropriate.”
“They’re trying to make me out to be the classic bigoted hateful white male,” Harry told me in a telephone interview from his home in Maryland. “That’s the complete opposite of what I am.”
The university’s only public comment came in a prepared statement noting “When student’s conduct violates the university’s behavioral standards, they are subject to a disciplinary process, and will be held accountable for their actions.”
On April 29 TCU sent Harry a letter accusing him of violating the university’s code of student conduct – specifically he was accused of “infliction of bodily or emotional arm” and “disorderly conduct.”
The charges stemmed from a half dozen tweets he had posted online referencing radical Islam along with a Facebook message about the Baltimore riots.
“These hoodrat criminals in Baltimore need to be shipped off and exiled to the sahara desert,” he wrote. “Maybe then they’ll realize how much we provide for them (welfare, college tuition, Obama phone’s, medicare, etc.”
In regards to Islam he wrote, “This is clearly not a religion of peace.”
He also used the word “beaner” a derogatory term to describe Mexicans.
A former middle school classmate took great offense at Harry’s tweets and launched what became a Twitter lynch mob. The unnamed woman, who has no ties to TCU, urged her followers to contact the university and complain.
“This a**hole has been posting racist and disgusting comments on Twitter/Facebook,” she wrote on Tumblr. “When I confronted him about it, he referred to me as an ‘Islamic s**thead.”
The university took swift action. Associate Dean of Students Glory Robinson ordered Harry to apologize for what he had written on his private social networking pages.
“Dean Robinson said I was going to need to write an apology letter and a letter stating what sort of punishment I thought I deserved,” Harry told me. “She told me not to use Freedom of Speech as a defense – or else I would be more severely punished.”
To make a long story short – Harry hired a lawyer and appealed.
“My appeal board consisted of one very flamboyant male teacher and the head of the inclusiveness and diversity department,” he said. “It wasn’t a very unbiased board at all that heard my case.”
As expected – the university rejected his appeal and sent Harry a certified letter.
“The choices you made caused harm to other individuals,” the university wrote. “These types of comments are not acceptable at TCU and directly contradict our mission of being ‘ethical leaders and responsible citizens in a global community.’”
Harry said he was told that he had to say he was guilty before the university actually found him guilty.
“Dean Robinson believes I am somehow damaged – she thinks there’s something wrong with me because of what I put out there on social media,” he said. “She told me how my conservatives views were inappropriate.”
While he stands by his beliefs about Islamic radicals and the Baltimore rioters, Harry told me he regrets the foul language he used – as well as the unintentional Mexican slur “beaner.”
“I did not know that word was such a hurtful word,” he said. “I do regret that one because I do realize that could have caused harm to some people.”
Harry said he called his online attacker a “s***head” after she bashed the Armed Forces and wrote that America deserved what happened on 9/11.
“Any red-blooded American’s blood would have boiled at the sight of what she wrote,” he said. “I let my anger get the best of me.”
It sounds to me like Harry Vincent is guilty of being a Christian Conservative white guy – and on a university campus that’s a crime worthy of death penalty.
Harry isn’t sure if he’s going back to TCU. Should he agree to their demands – the 19-year-old would be on disciplinary probation until 2018 – the year he graduates.
“I’m thinking about enlisting in the Marines,” he said.
But one thing is certainly – Harry is not backing down.
“I’m not going to stand down and watch an institution throw away the Constitution and throw away basic God-given rights,” he said.
TCU is a private school and as such they are not bound by the First Amendment. However, as a Christian school they ought to be bound by the Good Book.
Harry Vincent spoke his mind – but instead of honoring his free speech – TCU chose to silence this young man and capitulated to the fury of a Twitter lynch mob.
The irony is that Harry received a stiffer punishment than a lot of the street thugs who terrorized Baltimore.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is “God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.” Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.