Sergeant Christian DeJohn and the Cost of Standing Up for Free Speech
September 17, 2007
I appreciate that you and FIRE see the irony and hypocrisy of a decorated, disabled veteran who defended Bosnians’ individual rights overseas...seeing his most basic individual rights trampled on at home...in Philly, “the cradle of democracy,” no less.I’m in total academic and professional limbo right now—Temple is refusing to evaluate my MA thesis, thus delaying my graduation, and Temple profs, as they admitted under oath, are actually contacting potential employers to blackball me and sabotage my job search, over this. So, your support is a godsend.Defendant Immerman (Temple History Professor) has expressed in writing his hope that I “self destruct” for expressing concerns about academic freedom at Temple. Defendent Urwin (also a Temple History professor) has admitted under oath that Temple officials, including he, have contacted potential employers to blackball me over this.You can also read his response to my First Amendment concerns—calling veterans “mentally imbalanced” because we are “trained to kill,” quite an unusual attitude for a professor of military history.Both professors have referred to me in the press as a “failed” student, “marginal learner,” etc., though I have completed all 26 credits towards a Masters’ Degree in History, and have a 3.2 GPA at Temple. The Philly media has repeated the slander, but never asked to see my transcripts (let alone interview me).[T]he Philly media’s treatment of this over the past two years has been an unrelieved nightmare. They either ignore it entirely, or repeat Temple’s slander verbatim without even contacting me. There have been Philadelphia Inquirer articles printed where they quote 3-4 Temple officials attacking me personally, but the Inquirer writer never speaks to me. The Inquirer has stooped so low as to refer to me as a failing student and a marginal learner in headlines, when I have a 3.2 GPA at Temple!My story has never even remotely been told in Philly, so I truly appreciate your support. I’m hoping that if I risk all to protect OTHER people’s First Amendment rights, maybe I can get a fair shake in the courts, including the court of public opinion. I know you see the horrible irony of that, a veteran who has risked his life for foreigners overseas being denied basic First Amendment rights, and personally attacked by a Philly media that doesn’t even bother to speak to me, yet repeats Temple officials below-the-belt attacks on me.But thanks to your continued support, and that of ADF and the other organizations, I’m hopeful that in the process of fighting for other student’s fundamental First Amendment rights, I might get a fair shake myself. All the more so because I’m a soldier and veteran, which makes me very aware of Constitutional rights and freedoms.