Home ALT-Left Activists & News How ODU successfully fought leftist bullying and saved free speech

How ODU successfully fought leftist bullying and saved free speech


We all saw the spectacle yesterday of U.C. Berkeley leftists rioting in the name of “free speech” to stop a speech by a man whose views differed from their own.  This is apparently considered proper and admirable conduct at this iconic institution of leftism.

There was a time that a president of Old Dominion University showed the correct response to this kind of leftist bullying.

In 1991, ODU invited columnist James Kilpatrick to be the commencement speaker. Kilpatrick was a prominent conservative whose columns took a lighthearted approach to issues and also often focused on promoting good grammar.

As soon as Kilpatrick’s selection was announced, leftist professors and students across the campus began a loud and obnoxious protest.  Their hook was the fact that 30 years earlier Kilpatrick had been an outspoken opponent of racial desegregation.  He had long since renounced and apologized on numerous occasions for his actions during that time period, and he remained a highly respected nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, well within the political mainstream and in no way representing a bigoted point of view.

The truth is that the opposition to Kilpatrick by the leftist professors and students was based on the fact that he held a point of view contrary to their own, which is considered apostasy to the left.  Kilpatrick’s self-repudiated stance from three decades earlier was merely a pretext by these leftists to censor an opposing point of view.

The people opposing Kilpatrick were a distinct minority, but they were so loud and obnoxious (with the enthusiastic assistance of the local “news” media) that Kilpatrick ultimately withdrew so as not to allow the dissenters to tarnish the commencement.

Here’s where it gets good:

ODU President Jim Koch decided to deliver the commencement address himself.  His address focused on free speech and the importance of tolerating and encouraging a diversity of views in the university environment.  He openly chastised the professors and students whose actions were abhorrent to these values.  He announced that in response he was creating a new President’s Lecture Series that would invite prominent thinkers from across the political spectrum to speak at ODU.  And he announced who the inaugural lecturer would be: James Kilpatrick.

Dr. Koch showed the world the right way to respond to leftist tyrants who use violence to bully those who disagree with them. And his President’s Lecture Series is still in operation at ODU today, more than a quarter-century later.

The left in this country has declared open warfare on everyone who has the audacity to disagree with them.  They are using every tactic from lame-brained speeches by celebrities to violence to stifle free speech.  They cannot be allowed to prevail with these banana republic tactics and must be vigorously opposed.  Dr. Jim Koch showed us exactly how to do that.

Author: Ken Falkenstein

Ken Falkenstein is the Managing Editor of Committed Conservative and brings a wealth of experience and expertise in public affairs to the job. Ken served in the U.S. Army in the last years of the Cold War as a Russian linguist for military intelligence and the NSA. After leaving the Army, he earned his degree in Secondary Education from Old Dominion University, where he also wrote a popular column in the student newspaper.

Upon graduation, Ken worked as a Legislative Aide to two Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates. Ken also served as Corresponding Secretary of the Young Republican Federation of Virginia, managed several successful political campaigns, and managed governmental affairs operations for a local Realtor association.

In 1995, Ken moved to Washington, DC to serve as a Legislative Assistant to Sen. John Warner (R-VA). While working for Sen. Warner, Ken attended law school at night, earning his J.D. with honors from the George Mason University School of Law (n/k/a The Antonin Scalia Law School). Since that time, Ken has practiced as a civil litigation attorney, including serving for three years as an Associate City Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Ken previously was a contributor to the highly-regarded political blog Bearing Drift and was a weekly co-host of The Steve Batton Radio Program. In 2016, Ken ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia Beach School Board. Ken is also a former President of the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads.

Ken now lives outside of Denver, Colorado with his wife, Kim, and three sons, Adam, Dylan, and Joshua, who has Down syndrome. Ken’s writing is motivated and informed primarily by his concern for his kids’ future.