All Redbird Lives Don’t Matter.

Illinois State is a college located in Normal, Illinois. The school competes in the football only Missouri Valley Football Conference, which is a “FBS” conference, or for what old-timers will remember, is the “Division II” of NCAA football.

Kurt Beathard used to be the offensive football coach for the school.

Depending on whose side you listen to, Beathard was either fired or resigned. Given the fact that he is suing the school, we are going with “fired.”

According to his lawsuit, Beathard alleges he was fired because of a controversy regarding “Black Lives Matter” posters, and Beathard’s belief that all lives matter.

In his lawsuit, Beathard claims:

15. In late Spring/early Summer 2020, Beathard’s wife became very sick with cancer and passed away on 6/13/20.

16. In late Summer 2020, Beathard returned to ISU. The campus community was dealing with tension resulting from the death of George Floyd.

17. By this time, Black Lives Matter was a movement on the ISU campus. Spack brought Beathard up to speed about the atmosphere on campus and informed him that “Black Lives Matter is freaking nuts.”

18. Throughout his career, Beathard has successfully worked with young men of all races. While he believes black lives matter, he is opposed to the Black Lives Matter organization because it was founded by self-described “trained Marxists,” it divides human beings by skin color, and it supports violence and property destruction.

19. During mid-August 2020, ISU’s Department of Athletics printed Black Lives Matter posters. Several football coaches put Black Lives Matter posters on their office doors. Someone put a Black Lives Matter poster on Beathard’s office door.

20. Beathard removed the Black Lives Matter poster from his office door and replaced it with his own message: “All Lives Matter to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Beathard’s poster was on his office door for less than two (2) weeks.

21. On or about 8/27/20, [ISU Athletics Director Larry] Lyons addressed ISU’s student athletes via zoom. During his address, in a well-intended attempt to foster unity, Lyons stated: “All Redbird Lives Matter.” Lyons’ statement was not well-received by the student athletes, and he became embroiled in controversy and apologized. (Coincidentally[?], Lyons announced his retirement approximately one (1) month later.)

22. On or about 8/29/20, [Head Coach Brock] Spack came to Beathard’s office and asked him to remove his poster – “All Lives Matter to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” After considering Spack’s request, Beathard removed his poster, and Spack thanked him.

23. By 8/30/20, some student athletes had put together a list of demands, one of which was that the Department of Athletics must publicly support Black Lives Matter.

24. On 8/31/20, the Department of Athletics responded by issuing an “Action Plan for Social Change,” wherein it announced its public support for Black Lives Matter. The Plan also promised “education” for Lyons, all athletic administrators, and coaches on “diversity, equity, and anti-racism.”

25. Meanwhile, another coach who wanted to replace Beathard as offensive coordinator had taken a picture of Beathard’s poster and shared it with the football players. Apparently, the picture upset some of the football players.

26. On 9/1/20, some of the football players boycotted practice. Spack came to Beathard’s office and informed him that it looked like Lyons was going to keep his job but that Beathard was in trouble over the poster.

27. On the morning of 9/2/20, Spack called Beathard into his office and informed him that he didn’t “like the direction of the offense” and that he was being terminated from his position as offensive coordinator. Spack’s explanation was 100% pretext. The offense had thrived under Beathard, and Spack had never complained about the direction of the offense.

28. Spack’s decision to terminate Beathard was authorized and supported by Lyons.

No matter how you feel about “Black Lives Matter” and the supposed insulting statement of “All Lives Matter,” Beathard had the right to put up and display the sign on his door.

Quite simply, if someone can put up a poster on Black Lives Matter, then a person can put up a posted saying “All Lives Matter.” The school cannot make distinctions on which viewpoint to allow at the expense of other viewpoints.

In fact, the ISU Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy, says that Beathard is guaranteed free speech:

“Illinois State University … is strongly committed to the ethical and legal principal that each member of the University Community enjoys the right to free speech. The right of free expression and the open exchange of ideas stimulates debate, promotes creativity, and is essential to a rich learning environment… As members of the University Community, students… and staff have a responsibility to respect others and show tolerance for opinions that differ from their own…”

Even if other faculty and students disagreed with Beathard, the policy says they “have a responsibility to respect others and show tolerance for opinions that differ from their own.”

Nothing says “respect and tolerance” like firing someone.

Arguably, the case can be made that because of that intolerance shown by some players, Beathard had “lost the lockeroom,” and players wouldn’t listen to him as a coach.

Instead of sticking up for Beathard and teaching those players that in life, they are going to have to work with people with whom they disagree, the lesson learned by the players is that people can be fired if they disagree with them.

We just do not understand those who claim to hate racism demanding policies and statements based on race.

We just do not understand those who demand to be heard and their right of free speech protected, while demanding that other points of view cannot be heard or discussed.

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