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Why is 'Yes on 8' still dining on Pepper?

by Jeremy Hooper

Last week we told you how Pepperdine University has demanded that their name be removed from the anti-gay side's super-boring "Yes on 8" ad. And according to a Pepperdine PR person, the anti-gay side has promised to honor the University's request. So our question: WHY THE HELL HASN'T "YES ON 8" TAKEN THE NECESSARY STEPS TOWARDS COMPLIANCE?!

This is how the ad still looks on the official Prop 8 website, where they are encouraging folks to donate in order keep the ad on the air:

Picture 8-106

And the Pepperdine connection is also still prominently featured in the official Youtube version of the ad, which "Yes on 8" is encouraging folks to disseminate all over the Internet:

Picture 10-93

So basically, the anti-gays seem to be taking almost NO steps towards online compliance. Pepperdine University is still being made to look as if it is endorsing Proposition 8, which is drastically unfair to the administration and student body. This is especially true when you consider that Professor Peterson's claims are so intellectually unsound, they shouldn't be supported or emboldened by even a minor American preschool, much less a major American university.

We call on Pepperdine to step up their efforts and have these online links removed. In fact, we are quite literally calling on them right now. We'll let you know what response we receive.

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Your thoughts

Hi Jeremy,
Actually last night I saw a yes on prop 8 commercial and they have removed the words Pepperdine University from the ad. It now says "law professor" under his name. Just FYI. Polls show the race is getting VERY tight. I also saw the new No on 8 commercial last night - still looking for it online.

Posted by: znsd | Oct 7, 2008 10:11:10 AM

Yea, I've heard they have changed it on TV. But LOADS of people are seeing it online. And their official website is a direct link to the campaign. They have taken no steps towards online compliance

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 7, 2008 10:15:55 AM

Its changed on the radio as well. Maybe we need to write polite letters to Pepperdine.

Posted by: matt from california | Oct 7, 2008 11:36:20 AM

On Sunday night it aired during 11 pm ABC7 news in Los Angeles with the school's name. It's still online too. If you want to write polite letters to Pepperdine letting them know that this professor's used car salesman commercial is making them look kinda bad:
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Posted by: Jane | Oct 7, 2008 2:08:10 PM

I have spoken with Pepperdine administration regarding this ad. Believe me, the administration is VERY unhappy with this and has done everything they can to get the good professor to leave Pepperdine out of it. Unfortunately, the university is not able legally to prevent this tenured professor from exercising his free speech while noting the fact he is a Pepperdine prof.

Posted by: Mark | Oct 7, 2008 4:16:22 PM

Mark: yes, I've had similar conversations.

Just to be clear though, the issue is not about the professor's free speech. However, they can and have had their name removed from the TV and radio ads. The web is what hasn't changed.

The important thing, in my opinion is to highlight just how uncomfortable Pepperdine is with this situation, as well as Protect Marriage's continued, stubborn usage of the school's name.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 7, 2008 7:14:33 PM

The ad is still up on the Prop 8 website with Pepperdine's name. Why isn't the general counsel of the school filing for an injunction or something? A lot of happy alumni out there.

Posted by: Wendy | Oct 7, 2008 8:23:18 PM

It gets worse. New commercial, same professor, still using the name of the school.

Posted by: Wendy | Oct 8, 2008 6:38:21 PM

I know people probably aren't watching this thread anymore but I just noticed and here we are 9 days after you all stopped talking and it's still showing, both commercials i've seen tonight with Pepperdine under his name, but there is an asterisk stating title used for identification purposes only. If that's how they've decided to comply, that's atrocious.

Posted by: Mandy | Oct 17, 2008 12:47:31 AM

Personal response to me from the president of Pepperdine:

"We have only told the truth. Everyone, including newspapers, sensationalize the situation, but we have only told the truth. Opinions differ widely as to how we should separate our university from the political fray. The truth is that we respect our professor’s right to express himself, but we want no part of seeing Pepperdine pulled into a position of endorsement in a political matter."

My email to President Benton:
To: Benton, Andrew; Starr, Ken

Pepperdine continues to be closely linked to Yes on 8. In the recent Sacramento Bee Editorial, the Yes on 8 spokesman is only identified as “a law professor from Pepperdine”. Stronger steps must be taken by the University to counter the clear inference of approval, or all thinking people will assume your prior disclaimers are calculated lies.

A message from President Benton sent to University faculty on Oct. 14:

I want to provide an update on an issue that weighs heavily on many of our minds: encouraging academic freedom while refraining from political endorsement by Pepperdine University. As most are aware, Yes on 8 ads airing on television and radio feature one of our professors. The Pepperdine name is prominently displayed in the current round of ads and many vocal supporters and opponents of Prop 8 see the opinions expressed as not only the professor's, but Pepperdine's as well.

Many of our professors write op-eds, books and give speeches; and they are appropriately identified with Pepperdine University. My first reaction to this series of television ads was that Pepperdine was too prominent. Many on the faculty disagreed, some agreed strongly. At the faculty conference I learned that a disclaimer would satisfy the professor and others who were involved. We offered language that was simple and clear, and while we knew the firestorm would continue in some quarters, we felt a straightforward disclaimer would allow the professor his right to speak and our right to remain outside any role of endorsement in the political fray. The next day, I learned that the professor and those promoting Proposition 8 preferred to withdraw Pepperdine's name completely. We agreed. It was a change from a position announced just the day before, but it seemed a stronger measure and appropriate.

Just prior to running a second ad, the campaign announced to us that in their opinion it would be more effective if Pepperdine's name was back in. They added a disclaimer, albeit so small and bare, that most do not see it. It was not the language which we had suggested. They did not ask us; they told us what they were going to do, and they did it.

Without any involvement in the campaign, Pepperdine has been lionized and vilified. We have been given credit where it is not due and blamed beyond anyone's wildest imaginings. I, and perhaps many of you, continue to receive words of praise and condemnation from people who are either thanking us, or sharply criticizing us. Whether the writers are for or against Prop 8, I take no comfort from either position as it puts us where we don't belong -- in partisan politics.

This is a very challenging situation. We believe that the right to freedom of expression must be balanced with the fact that universities cannot endorse political candidates and propositions. We can host debates, we can educate, but we can't endorse.

We regret when anyone supposes that we are inappropriately involved in a political issue when we are not. We will take whatever measures we deem appropriate to correct the misunderstanding. I will be writing to alumni and donors to explain the delicate nature of the balance we strike. We must not chill the right to free expression, but we must also avoid the appearance (intended or not) of political partisanship.

You can be of service to our institution by helping us clear up this confusion with those who may ask. I appreciate your understanding, your assistance and your patience.

Posted by: | Oct 20, 2008 3:10:57 AM

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