Liberal Intolerance? Prominent Conservatives Protested at Two Colleges

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 20, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: two more examples of liberal intolerance on college campuses.

First, students and faculty at Washington University in St. Louis stood up and turned their backs as conservative activist pioneer Phyllis Schlafly received her honorary degree there.

Then a conservative group at DePaul University in Chicago invited one of the founders of the Minutemen to speak on campus. And as you can see, the event drew heavy protests from students and pro-immigration activists.

Joining us now from Omaha, a student who protested at Washington University, Jill Strominger. And from Chicago, Nick Hahn, of DePaul Conservatives Alliance, who organized the Minuteman event.

Welcome to both of you. Let's start with you, Jill. Which conservative, which prominent conservative do you think would deserve an honorary degree at Washington University? Why don't you name a few?

JILL STROMINGER, PROTESTER, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, I absolutely think that's not the issue, Laura.

INGRAHAM: Now what is the issue? And I just ask the questions, Jill. Stay with me here. We only have a few minutes.

You turned your back on one of the leading lights of the conservative movement. Phyllis Schlafly is a pioneer. Whether you agree with her or not, she changed the way people think about politics in this country, period. So I'm asking you: If she is not someone who legitimately should receive an honorary degree, which conservative do you think should?

STROMINGER: Well, I mean, there are many fabulous choices, like Colin Powell. But the issue...

INGRAHAM: He wouldn't qualify as a pioneering conservative. He's a great man though.

STROMINGER: Laura, you're completely mischaracterizing, you know, what happened and what we were standing against, which is actually part of the reason that we chose to protest Schlafly.

Our problem was less her specific viewpoints but more the way that she expresses herself. The way that she mischaracterizes her opponents and how her style of debate changed the debate in such a way that it led people to be oppressed.

INGRAHAM: Jill, do you or do you not believe in free speech on college campus?

STROMINGER: I absolutely believe in free speech, but there's a difference.

INGRAHAM: How about respect and disrespecting people who speak? Don't you think that's a sign of disrespect? I mean, whether you agree with her or not, so what; she's getting an honorary degree. A lot of people that got honorary degrees at Dartmouth and I didn't much like them, but I didn't turn my back on them either.

STROMINGER: Yes. Well, our protest actually ended up giving Phyllis Schlafly a platform, you know, to air her views.

INGRAHAM: Well, then it was a dumb idea in the first place.

STROMINGER: ...platform, as well.

INGRAHAM: Well, it was — Jill, it ends up making you look intolerant when liberals are supposed to be for more speech.

But let's get to Nick. Nick, you tried to bring the Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, was it? Or it's Chris Simcox — I can't remember which one it was — on campus. You had to hire security to the tune of, I guess, $2,500. No other group had to hire similar security. I don't know how you ended up paying that fee, but you ended up paying it. What's going on?

NICK HAHN, DEPAUL CONSERVATIVES ALLIANCE: Well, I think this is just another example where the university isn't doing its job. They're passing the buck, literally, onto the students and making me pay $2,500 for private security.

And this sets a dangerous precedent at a university where students are discouraged from bringing controversial speakers to campus if they're going to be charged exorbitant fees to bring the speaker in the first place.

INGRAHAM: Hey, Nick, have you ever protested, silently or otherwise, the liberal speaker coming to campus? That's probably happened, like every other week at DePaul University.

HAHN: Well, that's in part why no other political group has been charged this amount of money.


HAHN: Because conservatives don't go and protest. What we do, we act like adults, and we behave as students and we attend the event. We ask questions. We respond intellectually to their ideas. We don't try to picket their ideas and shout them down.

INGRAHAM: Well, this is fascinating. We're going to keep following these issues of intolerance on campus. Jill and Nick, thanks a lot.

And I love Phyllis Schlafly.

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