New evidence may help a Spring man prove the freedom of expression case he's filed in federal court claiming that Regent University, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson in Virginia, unconstitutionally kicked him out of school for posting a picture on the Internet of Robertson scratching his face with his middle finger extended.
Former Regent University law student Adam Key made national headlines when, the lawsuit claims, he was banned from classes in 2007 after he posted the picture of Robertson on his Facebook page. The picture, deemed obscene by the university, was taken from the last frame of a video that Key found on YouTube, Key claims.
Key's attorney, Randall Kallinen of Houston, says he's recently discovered other Regent students who have posted "offensive" pictures on their Facebook page, yet the university has not retaliated against them as it did against Key. Some of the pictures Kallinen found include a doctored photo from the civil rights era of an African-American holding a sign saying, "Can a Nigga Get Some Koolaid," and another manipulated photo of an African-American basketball player trying to steal a watermelon from a white player.
The picture containing the watermelon, Kallinen tells Hair Balls, was still on the student's Facebook page just days ago. Kallinen says he has provided the pictures to the university's attorneys, yet the school has not taken any action against the students.
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"If people are allowed to put up that stuff," says Kallinen, "well then Mr. Key should have been allowed to put up his stuff. The school promised freedom of speech and expression and they still say they honor freedom of speech and expression, but not Mr. Key's speech and expression. They're just picking on Mr. Key because he was attacking Robertson."
The discovery of the racist images on Regent law students' Facebook pages is even more disturbing, says Kallinen, given that the University has boasted on its website that more than 150 alumni were hired by the Bush administration. One such lawyer was former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez's aide, Monica Goodling, who was involved in the controversy over the firings of U.S. attorneys.
"That's a lot of lawyers," says Kallinen, "including some going to the Department of Justice civil rights division. So if the law grads are tossing around this type of extremely racist imagery, it does not seem they would be very sympathetic to the plight of the African-American."
Key's case, originally filed in Houston, has been moved to the Eastern District of Virginia, where Regent University stands. Key, now 25, is currently at Sam Houston State University.