Joel Schmieg says he doesn’t know exactly what he wrote that made Jerry Falwell Jr. cut his article out of the Liberty University school newspaper. He just said that the school’s president told his editors his story criticizing Donald Trump couldn’t run.
“[My editors] read the email to me. He said, basically, the gist was that there were two articles this week about Trump,” Schmieg told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “One was a letter to the editor from a Liberty alum, and they didn’t want two things running about him.”
Schmieg is the sports editor for the Liberty Champion, where he pens a weekly column. Not unlike national sports radio or talking head TV shows throughout the country this week, he decided to express himself about Trump’s “locker room talk” excuse for the leaked audiotapes where the GOP nominee appears to brag about sexually assaulting women.
“I have never in my life heard guys casually talk about preying on women in a sexual manner,” Schmieg writes in the piece.
Schmieg even notes that he does “not condone premarital sexual activity.” Liberty’s honor code dictates, after all, that “sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University.”
Still, Schmieg said Falwell, who has endorsed Trump and stumped for him at the Republican National Convention, squashed the piece anyway. He said "everything controversial" gets sent to Falwell first.
A spokesperson for Liberty University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s not the first time Falwell has cut stories from the school paper, Schmieg said.
“From my section, never. It’s sports,” said Schmieg, a junior at the evangelical school. “I know it happens. I don’t know how often. I know, at the very least, he might take something from the opinion section and delete a paragraph.”
Falwell faced backlash from 2,500 of his students this week, who signed a letter criticizing him for continuing his support of Trump despite the tape’s release, according to The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff.
“We’re all sinners, every one of us,” Falwell said about Trump’s comments, where he said he would “grab [women] by the pussy.” “We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t.”
Falwell’s Liberty University is notoriously strict about any sexual behavior, where even “attending a dance” is punishable by demerits and a fine.
“Any faculty or staff member at Liberty would be terminated for such comments, and yet when Donald Trump makes them, President Falwell rushes eagerly to his defense – taking the name ‘Liberty University’ with him,” the letter reads.
Schmieg, a 20-year-old music major, said he’s voting for Evan McMullin, the #NeverTrump independent candidate, who he believes is the “only candidate who represents conservative values.”
“I can’t speak for everyone, but most people are unhappy with Trump and Jerry’s endorsements of him,” he said.
Schmieg called Falwell’s actions with his column “definitely very hypocritical.”
“In a recent statement from Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, on students speaking their minds for Donald Trump, Jerry said, ‘It is a testament to the fact that Liberty University promotes the free expression of ideas unlike many major universities where political correctness prevents conservative students from speaking out,’” Schmieg wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
Schmieg then called Falwell’s quote “amusing” and posted his column on his personal Facebook page.
The Daily Beast is now printing that column in its entirety below:
As a former male athlete, I know exactly what high school guys talk about when they think they are alone. It absolutely can be vulgar and objectifying to women. But here’s the thing — I have never in my life heard guys casually talk about preying on women in a sexual manner.
Trust me, I hated the way the guys talked on the field during practice or in the halls at school. It was downright dirty. Some would call it “locker room talk.” In other words, guys talking about the things they supposedly did with their girls. The conversation never turned to the things they were going to do to a girl.
While I do not condone premarital sexual activity, guys talking about the things they do with their girlfriends is part of today’s culture. On the other hand, when a guy talks about what they are going to do to a girl, that is when it is no longer locker room talk, but pre-meditated sexual assault.
Some examples of this kind of talk are “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” This is not a joke. Men do not casually say things like this. This is not locker room talk. Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to excuse the terrible things they or others have said.
If a high school male was heard talking like this, I would hope appropriate action would be taken. This might involve counseling and some sort of punishment. Not because punishment would magically fix what he said, but to ensure he understands the severity of what he said. So he understands that sexual assault is not a joke. So he understands that women are to be cherished, not spoken of as property.
But when an adult in his late ‘50s says things like “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” that should be a major red flag. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” Luke 6:45.
The things that come out of a man’s mouth when his guard is down is probably what is in his heart.
With that said, everyone deserves forgiveness for things that seem to be in the past. But in this instance, the words said do not seem to truly be in the past. He was never accosted for his atrocious words. And most importantly, it seems the words spoken are par for the course.
Donald Trump may have issued an apology for the words he said, but the fact that he can brush them off with a description of “locker room talk,” tells me that he does not believe what he said is truly bad. It tells me that this man says things like this all the time, because it is casual talk to him.
Ladies, please hear me when I say the words spoken by Trump are not normal. That is not what decent men talk about. Not even in high school. You mean so much more than that, and you deserve so much better than that.