Palm Beach Atlantic University canceled the Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon’s planned speech and changed the venue for a scheduled interview from the school chapel to the library, citing the chapel’s sacredness.
The story: Dillon, an alumnus at the university, was expected to make an appearance at the school chapel for a speaking event and an interview on Sep. 30. The day before the scheduled event, PBA Director of Alumni Relations Steve Eshelman sent an email to Dillon, informing him that they were moving the interview to the university’s library. Eshelman also told him they were canceling his 5-minute speech.
In an email forwarded to Dillon by a faculty member, PBA Executive Vice President for Advancement Laura Bishop cited complaints on social media.
“We anticipated that an honest conversation like this could become passionate, and that emotions may run high. We did not want to compromise the sacredness of a chapel gathering, and, after heated exchanges on social media, it was decided that the Lassiter Rotunda of the Warren Library would be a more suitable venue for Mr. Dillon,” Bishop wrote.
Dillon confirmed the news on Twitter.
Why? Students at Palm Beach Atlantic University, a Catholic school, argued that it was inappropriate for Dillon to be interviewed in the chapel because it was a “sacred place.” Dillon shared some of the remarks made about him on Twitter.
One student pointed to Dillon’s post on Twitter where he described Black Lives Matter as a “terrorist organization.” The student also claimed that “every LGBTQ student has been disrespected and degraded by his content.”
What was the interview about? Dillon told Campus Reform that the interview was meant to be “lighthearted” and focus on his time as a student at the university and his work as a Christian media entrepreneur. Among the prepared questions were: “Did you have a favorite professor?” and “Humor can be a really subjective thing. Are there any [Babylon Bee] posts that you didn’t think were great that got a huge response, or vice versa?”
What he’s saying: “The assumption that I would bring a Twitter discussion into chapel and stray from the subject matter I agreed to discuss was pretty uncharitable,” he said. “It seemed to me that it was an excuse… what they wanted to do was cancel me without canceling me and appease everyone involved.”
Dillon noted that the school did not highlight specific examples of remarks or actions that would warrant a venue change. “Bishop would not explicitly tell me what I’d said or done that made my presence in the chapel suddenly inappropriate. I told her that if I’m not welcome in their chapel, then I don’t feel welcome on their campus,” he said.
The apology: Laura Bishop and PBA President Debra Schwinn reportedly apologized to Dillon and said they wanted to correct their wrongs. Dillon, who has recently donated $300,000 in seed funding for a new master’s program at the university, said he wants to see the school standing up to cancel culture.
Push back against cancel culture: “If the university were to boldly and openly engage in the battle against cancel culture and take a clear stand against it, and back up people like me to the mob instead of doing exactly what the mob wanted them to do… then I wouldn’t have any qualms about donating to them in the future,” Dillon said when asked about future donations.
If the university reinstates his interview in the chapel, it “would send the message that I’m welcome there, and that it would right the wrong of how this was handled,” he added. “Cancel culture is a destructive disease, and Palm Beach Atlantic University is not immune to it. We need more backbone and less coddling in our Christian institutions. And we need it yesterday.”
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