Jack Sigel, a part-time English professor at Loyola University Chicago, was removed from a March 22 speech by Republican luminary Karl Rove when Sigel started handing out fliers critical of the speaker and his views. The incident made national news when a conservative blogger posted a video of the altercation between Sigel and police. Loyola Student Dispatch reporter Elizabeth Noel conducted the first interview with Sigel since the incident.
By Elizabeth Noel
“Left, green, socialist, aspiring feminist.”
In his handout, Sigel referred to Rove as Bush’s “turd blossom” and accuses Rove of using “dirty tricks” throughout his involvement in Bush’s presidency. He cites Plato, Aristotle and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.
“I would be very surprised if Karl Rove mentioned any of the things in my handout,” Sigel said. “I was looking to expand what people were going to hear that night. I thought people in the audience, not to mention students, should know.”
The incident was captured on film by conservative blogger and Loyola graduate Bill Kelly, who had free rein with his microphone and camera crew. Additionally, Kelly wrote about the whole episode in a column in the Washington Times. Kelly did not respond to requests for comment.
Here is Kelly’s video:
Sigel, a New York City native, has been a part-time professor for four years at Loyola, where he teaches writing and Shakespeare classes.
“I never talk about my own political views in class,” Sigel said. “But I do tell my students to pursue a diversity or sources, to question.”
He said he did not create a disturbance when handing out the pamphlets and that he was exercising his right of free speech upheld by the First Amendment.
“I think I bent some people out of shape,” he said. “They read this; they immediately saw red. They didn’t like what they were seeing. But the only disturbance being created was in the realm of ideas.”
Though Sigel said he supported Karl Rove’s right to appear and speak, he thinks his removal was unwarranted.
“I think it’s essential for a university to provide free and open debate on any and all issues,” he said. “I thought it was a clear contradiction for the College Republicans to be saying, ‘We have the right to have a speaker here,’ and then respond to my being there by saying, ‘No I should be censored, I should be kicked out.’”