Sen. Joe McCarthy terrorized his opponents on the left from 1950 to 1954, but finally went too far, and lawyer Joseph Welch pinned him with the most skilled riposte in the history of congressional testimony: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
Of course, had those words merely been uttered in a Washington building, and not been megaphoned by CBS, they would have been a tree falling in the forest with only woodsmen to hear it. Today’s media question: Will the pressure to guillotine University of Virginia (UVa) professor Douglas Laycock lead to a backlash?
Law faculty of many ideologies are rallying to the defense of Laycock, a religious liberty scholar who backs individual religious rights and wants church and state totally separate. That’s probably an impossible task, but Laycock has been consistent in his effort for years and in standing firm has upset LGBTQ leftists. They correctly see themselves as having momentum, and they want to use it.
As UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge reported [warning: article contains profanity] last Saturday, the LGBTQ activist group GetEQUAL and the Virginia Student Power Network found two UVa students willing to lecture Laycock on the “real-world consequences” of his scholarship, and to submit a Freedom of Information Act seeking emails between Laycock and conservative or religious liberty groups.
UVa fourth-year student Greg Lewis suggested that Laycock was a little slow, for the professor did not understand “how his work is being used to hurt the LGBTQ community … everyone really has a lot to learn.” The letter to Laycock that Lewis co-signed stressed how “important” it is “for professors to truly understand the implications of their work.” Really, truly. But Laycock has widespread support from both liberals and conservatives and forms half of a power couple: His wife, Teresa Sullivan, is president of UVa. It doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.