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KSU took appropriate position

Perhaps ballot controversy can be put to rest

By The Mercury

We were disappointed but not surprised to learn of reports that some prospective donors were planning to cancel planned gifts to Kansas State University because an individual associated with the university sought last week to have President Barack Obama’s name removed from the Kansas ballot.

We’d like to believe those reports are unfounded, and if there is any basis for them, that prospective donors would recognize that withholding a gift whose purpose is to help the university or students now or in the future because donors disagree with one individual’s words or actions doesn’t make sense.

The individual, Manhattan resident Joe Montgomery, is involved in fundraising for the College of Veterinary Medicine. On Friday he notified Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who leads the Kansas Objections Board, of his intent to withdraw his complaint against the president. The board did so this morning.

We’ll take this opportunity also to credit the university for recognizing the free speech rights of its employees. As Jeff Morris, KSU’s vice president for communications and marketing, noted, Mr. Montgomery, was acting in his capacity as a private citizen, not as a representative of the university. “We have people on campus with lots of different political views,” he said.

To his credit, Mr. Montgomery did not seek to link the university with his action. In fact, he took pains to make clear that he was acting as a private citizen. And there is no reason to doubt him when he said that the “animosity and intimidation” directed at him and those around him was a factor in his decision to withdraw his complaint.

We were dismayed that Mr. Montgomery — or anyone, for that matter — remains convinced that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen. In our view, that issue has long since been resolved, and efforts to reprise it stem from ignorance.

And though we believe Mr. Montgomery was right to withdrew his complaint, we regret that he felt compelled by others to do so.

Mr. Montgomery’s right to speak and act freely — even to the point of trying to have the president’s name removed from the election ballot — is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

That’s a document that, coincidentally, was ratified on this very day 225 years ago.

Those who disagree with Mr. Montgomery have the same right of free speech that he has, of course. But when they resort to intimidation to achieve their goal, it is they, not Mr. Montgomery, who deserve reproach.

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