From the same people who brought you the constitutional right to privacy: “You have no privacy.”

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court created a federal right to abortion by finding that abortion falls into an unstated Constitutional dimension called “the right to privacy.”  (Note:  British and American common law has always recognized a right to privacy, but the Constitution makes no mention of it.)  Thus, in Roe v. Wade, the Court explained the constitutional protections for abortion as follows:

The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however, going back perhaps as far as Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 251 (1891), the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution.


This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

With the Court’s pronouncement about the huge reach of the Constitution’s unexpressed “right to privacy,” Democrats, Liberals, Communists, and Progressives pronounced themselves satisfied.  The 10th Amendment, which once upon a time reserved to the states those rights not expressly delegated to the federal government, was meaningless.  If the Left thinks it should be in the Constitution, then — voila! — it is in the Constitution. Since 1973, therefore, Americans have believed that a person’s right to privacy is all-encompassing, and prohibits the government, as well as arms of the government, such as state founded or funded universities, from poking their governmental nose into anything that pertains to our own bodies.

With the exception of abortion, which is the most challenging issue because there are competing right’s (the woman’s and the fetus’s), most libertarians would agree with a common law (and therefore worthy of full respect) right to privacy, even if they would argue, as I do, that it’s tremendously damaging to the American body politic to pretend such a right is constitutional.  If we want a constitutional right to privacy, the Constitution spells out the procedure:  amendment, not judicial fiat.

Once they established this new constitutional principle, however, Progressives realized that they should have been a bit more careful in institutionalizing privacy as a core constitutional doctrine.  As they’ve discovered, the best way for a state to control individuals is through controlling their sexuality.  By asserting increasing state dominance over people’s sex lives (which is different a society enforcing traditional moral codes), the state can break familial bonds, destroy an individual’s sense of his inviolable self, interfere with core religious doctrine, and hand out sexual treats at opiates for the masses, all of which consolidate state power over individuals.

The problem for the Progressives arises if individuals are old-fashioned enough to believe that their sexuality is nobody’s business but their own. And no, traditional marriage is not necessarily proof that people are screaming their heterosexuality out loud. Having grown up in San Francisco, I’ve known of many marriages that involved agreed-upon sexual arrangements that had very little to do with traditional heteronormative behavior, and everything to do with people wanting to live their lives their way, free from prying eyes.

Progressive’s frustration with old-fashioned notions of personal privacy — the same notion that they promoted and cheered in Roe v. Wade — came to a head in 2008 at the University of Delaware.  In academia’s never-ending push to turn people into malleable little clumps of victim-hood, and class-, race-, or sexuality-based identity groups, the University of Delaware realized that it would need to force recalcitrant students to state whether they’re LGBT, GLBT, STR8T, BI, AC/DC, or LMNOP (oh, sorry, got lost in my alphabet soup there):

A female freshman arrives for her mandatory one-on-one session in her male RA’s dorm room. It is 8:00 p.m. Classes have been in session for about a week. The resident assistant hands her a questionnaire. He tells her it is “a little questionnaire to help [you] and all the other residents relate to the curriculum.” He adds that they will “go through every question together and discuss them.” He later reports that she “looked a little uncomfortable.”

“When did you discover your sexual identity?” the questionnaire asks.

“That is none of your damn business,” she writes.

“When was a time you felt oppressed?”

“I am oppressed every day [because of my] feelings for the opera. Regularly [people] throw stones at me and jeer me with cruel names…. Unbearable adversity. But I will overcome, hear me, you rock loving majority.”[1]

She is not playing along like the other students, and the RA confronts her using his “confrontation training,” but it isn’t working. He becomes so appalled by her resistance that he writes up an incident report and reports her to his superiors. After all, this is the University of Delaware, and the school has a zero-tolerance policy for anything remotely resembling “hate speech.”

This one-on-one session was not meant to be a punishment, some kind of mandatory sensitivity training for a recalcitrant student who had committed an infraction. It was mandatory training for all 7,000-odd students in the University of Delaware dorms. The sessions were part of a thorough thought-reform curriculum, designed by the school’s Office of Residence Life, to psychologically “treat” and correct the allegedly incorrect thoughts, attitudes, values, beliefs, and habits of the students. The ResLife staff considered students too intolerant of one another, too “consumerist,” and in dire need of reeducation to become responsible world citizens who could meet the planet’s environmental crisis and the requirements of social and economic “justice.”

(FIRE successfully mounted a campaign to force the University of Delaware to abandon this forcible effort to extract personal information from vulnerable freshman, but I use it as an example here, because it so perfectly encapsulates the Leftist attitude towards privacy and sexuality.)

Aside from having a girl-crush (but not an LGBT girl-crush, just an intellectual one) on the young woman who spoke of being opera-oppressed, I’m shocked, disgusted, appalled, etc. — the usual range of emotion a liberty-loving person experiences when an institution takes vast sums of money to control a young person’s life and future and then uses its coercive power to extort deeply private information from that same vulnerable student.

What makes this Progressive attitude even more distasteful is the fact that Universities claim to be all about privacy — at least when that privacy means isolating students from their own parents, despite a reasonable presumption that these same parents, unlike the vast, impersonal institutions, truly have their children’s best interests at heart:

College and University students have a right to privacy. In the United States, it’s called FERPA: the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. And there are a lot of rights and protections that you have as a student eighteen or over, and that you must respect as both a parent and a professor.

As a student, your grades, enrollment, assignments, and interactions with professors are all completely confidential. As a professor, I am not allowed, legally, to give out any information whatsoever about a student without that student’s explicit permission.

And, like practically all professors, I don’t. But this message is most important for parents, and for students who are worried about their irate parents.

Put another way:  your parent, who is probably paying for some or all of your education, cannot ask about your grades, but your university, which will have taken a minimum of $100,000 from you over the course of four years, while promising you a diploma with at least some market value, can force you to state your most private personal information.

I was going to end this post by saying the Left can’t have it both ways:  it either recognizes individual privacy or it doesn’t.  Then I slapped myself in the face and said “Don’t be stupid, Bookworm!  In Obama’s Leftist, narcissistic America, the Left can have it any way it likes it, both coming and going, as long as its demands drive the bottom line towards statism.”

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  1. Beth says

    Two articles in one little afternoon that highlight the drive to destroy families, driving a wedge between parent and child.  Kill the family, kill the nation. 

  2. says

    They tried to make me follow FERPA, in what I considered to be an extreme way, when I was teaching.
    Instead, I wrote up a handout for my students, which I passed out the first day of class – it offered two boxes to check, one indicating that they were adults or emancipated minors paying their own tuition, the other conceding that their parents were paying the bills.  I informed them that parents who were paying the bills would, if they called and asked, be informed in general terms how their students were doing.
    I checked this with lawyers and it meets the statutory requirements, apparently.  I was prepared to do it anyhow and d**n the consequences.  No parent paying the thousands of dollars it cost to keep a student in school was going to be told (by me) “You’ll have to get your child to provide written permission before I can speak with you about their progress in my class.”  I was a parent paying tuition at one time, and any teacher serving me a load of c**p like that would have had his head pinched off!!

  3. Caped Crusader says

    Would it not be great if we could get all students to skip college for 2 years and enter the real world prior to college. Would make far wiser students and bring the pompous universities to their knees.

  4. says

    To the left, the personal is political and public. The leftist agenda necessitates this. Amongst others because of the major leftist pillar of identity politics.
    To totalitarians and statists, there cannot be anything private; the state must be involved in basically everything, and must basically know everything. Neither does this philosophy allow for people to make their own decisions to what they expose and what they don’t – this philosophy believes only the state is capable of making decisions for people, or, perhaps even more correctly, should be allowed to do so in order to keep in control.
    The example of that questionnaire is truly exacrable. It is clear proof of that anti-individual liberty ideology of the left. It is an invasion into people’s lives, and I am disgusted by it. That attitude is destructive and disgusting.
    Good thing some people resisted it. My university luckily isn’t so intrusive. I too would raise a storm if it were.


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