Pepperdine professor preaches Prop 8 propaganda

Propaganda definition from Wikipedia:

Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of large numbers of people. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the cognitive narrative of the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.

As a recent graduate of Pepperdine’s business school, I still get email and other correspondence from the university and its alumni program. So when I received an email from Pepperdine’s PR department on October 2 with the subject line: Clarification re: Proposition 8 Ad, I was curious. The email said it was getting calls about a Pepperdine professor who was featured in an Proposition 8 TV ad.

What did Pepperdine have to do with a Prop 8 ad and was it for or against Prop 8?

If the ad was for Prop 8 (ban gay marriage), then undoubtedly alumni were calling to complain (Pepperdine could lose its tax-exempt status for taking sides in politics like this). OR had a Pepperdine professor advocated against Prop 8 (keep gay marriage), and now the conservative supporters of this Christian university called to voice their objections? I figured the former was more likely, but the latter might have been possible, as well.

Here is a the full text of the email (emphasis is mine):

Dear Pepperdine Alumnus:

Many members of the Pepperdine community have voiced opinions over a TV ad regarding Proposition 8. The ad features a Pepperdine professor and currently includes reference to his affiliation with the University.

We’d like to stress that the professor does not represent a Pepperdine University-endorsed position, as the University does not advocate for/against political candidates or ballot propositions.

The professor in the ad was not advocating a Pepperdine position, but his own personal position.

We have received confirmation that our request to have the reference to Pepperdine University deleted from the ad will be honored. We have been assured that the ad will be revised, perhaps by today.

Jerry Derloshon
Executive Director
Public Relations
Pepperdine University

Later that day, I did see the offending ad in question on TV, showing a Pepperdine Law Professor named Richard Peterson frightening California voters into voting “Yes on 8” – making same sex marriages once again illegal in the state of California. Robertson says that if same-sex marriages remain on the books, people could be sued over personal beliefs, churches could lose their tax exemptions, and gay marriage could be “taught in public schools.” (These things he states are straight-up lies; propaganda specifically designed to scary people into voting for Prop 8. Get the facts at

Well today I saw the ad again, and guess what?

Despite the Pepperdine PR email saying that “the reference to Pepperdine University [would be] deleted from the ad,” it has not.

What they have done is added in a tiny subtitle saying “Title for identification purposes only.” You can see the offending ad at

I think this “revision” is disingenuous and absolutely has not fulfilled Pepperdine’s request to DELETE the reference in this ad. In fact, what they have done is used the Pepperdine name AS A REFERENCE in the ad to “identify” the speaker. If the speaker was speaking on his personal beliefs and not on behalf of the university, his employment at Pepperdine should not be referenced AT ALL. The Pepperdine PR department has assured its alumni that the Pepperdine name would not be used in the TV ads and yet a week later, it still is in the ad.

Furthermore, this new subtitle does NOT disclaim by clarifying that the opinion expressed in the ad is solely that of the professor and does not reflect the opinion of Pepperdine University.

I found a Facebook Page called PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY ALLOWS THEMSELVES TO BE PART OF YES ON 8, which states that:

CALL TODAY AND VOICE YOUR OPINION. The calls are coming into Pepperdine 20 to 1 thanking them for their heroic stand by SAYING YES ON 8, tell them there is nothing heroic about hatred.

So here are my calls to action for any Californian, or anyone who has ties to Pepperdine University in particular:

  • Call Jerry Derloshon 310-506-4000 or email and ask why Professor Richard Peterson is on the YES ON 8 commercial against Gay and Lesbian marriage after telling alumni that the Pepperdine University name would no longer appear in the ads
  • Send an email to Mr. Peterson himself, ask him to explain how people could be sued over personal beliefs, churches could lose their tax exemptions, and gay marriage could be “taught in public schools.”:
  • CC your emails to the president of Pepperdine:
  • Make sure you are registered to vote and VOTE NO ON PROP 8
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17 Responses to “Pepperdine professor preaches Prop 8 propaganda”

  • Great post and I absolutely agree. The school should not let their reputation be tarnished by a guy who looks like a used car salesmen who peddles lies.

  • That ad was making me sick. He should be ASHAMED of himself. Glad to see the school agrees.

  • I thin it is completely disgusting that this professor is still allowed to teach at the University. He is a professor of law and should teach equality and rights to all human beings. Is this what Pepperdine Law School is all about? It makes me wonder. I am currently a Pepperdine Student and have already conveyed my feelings to friends, colleagues and others in regards to ” How I feel about Pepperdine”! Disgusted at this point. I will ascertain that my colleagues or friends never send their students to this school…….

  • Gay marriage is being taught in public schools in Masssssssachusetts.

  • No, YOUarewrong.

    What happened in Massachusetts has nothing to do with what is written in Prop 8.

    Stop perpetuating lies.

    And by the way, don’t be a coward and leave anonymous comments.

  • Thank you for the info and email addresses. I left a message on Jerry’s Vmail, and emailed the following – I was absolutely incensed by these commercials, which are being aired non-stop in LA.

    Subject: Jesus and “Professor” Peterson
    Date: October 11, 2008 7:50:03 PM PDT

    Racist Professor Peterson should be fired from Pepperdine and not allowed employment at any educational institution.
    The pinhead looks to deny people whom he deems inferior their basic rights.
    I suspect he’s latently gay himself, since all vocal homophobes are sooner or later discovered to be self-hating homosexuals.
    Fire the man and save yourselves more embarrassments than you’ve already heaped on yourselves and your illustrious “God-Fearing” university.
    I can assure you without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus would not approve of Peterson’s position – you see, Jesus was about love and inclusion, not about hate and exclusion. And certainly not about hateful incitement of others.
    By lending his image and your university’s name to these hate-mongering, factually untrue commercials, surely Peterson has proven to you that he is not worthy of being an educator, anywhere. Fire the Nazi fool.

  • I love your rant about propaganda. The voters already made a decision on gay marriage. It’s ridiculous that this is even on the ballot. There is nothing in California’s constitution that explicitly states that people of the same sex can’t marry. It doesn’t say I can’t marry my cousin or my daughter either. The drafters of California’s constitution couldn’t foresee that two men or two women would ever marry-that’s why it’s not in the constitution. This is opening the door for polygamy and incest-thank you judicial activism. Schools will be required to teach that my marriage to my wife is the same as two men being married. Yes on 8. When did homesexuals become a “race” instead of sexual preference?

  • I am a current MBFE student who believes the reduced government, and I highly believe the last plasce they need to install a branch is in our pants, here is my letter to Dr. Peterson…

    Dear Professor Peterson,

    I just wanted to write to you as a Pepperdine student and thank you for your stand on the issue of proposition 8. Although I do not agree with gay marriage or giving a priority to teaching of the subject in elementary schools, I think you made me realize a far greater issue,

    You made me realize that it is a far greater wrong for a professor of the University to wrongly use their position to advocate their position on the issue by leveraging their association to someone far greater than themselves. The school has a policy to not advocate for or against politicians or propositions, but I am sure you have realized that your name means nothing without the school.

    If you had associated yourself with some other organization, that may have been fine, however that organization represents me as well, someone who contributes to your salary. I think your abuse of your title and the school’s weak attempt to disassociate with your position and it’s name being used has showed me a valuable lesson.

    I will be voting NO on proposition 8 simply as a protest to your position. If you need to invoke your first amendment rights, please avoid dragging the rest of us down to your level.

    Pepperdine University Graziadio MBFE Student*

    * – Title for identification purposes only

  • The learned man’s voice of authority resounds down the halls of history
    he’s reached the bottom of philosophy, ethics, morality
    all that remains is law, language, and sophistry
    “If I can get a fix on that mix, maybe people will listen to me”

    Willing, ready, and able to posit his wide reaching stance with pride
    presented on a base of setting precedents for which there’s no turning back
    but some of us believe we know from what foundation this motivation really emerges from

    This learned man’s voice of authority has now certainly put him on the map
    setting for him a personal precedent from which there’s no turning back
    by now he’s reaching the bottom of his own personality
    let’s hope his future doesn’t reveal a potential legacy of hypocrisy to resound down the halls of history

    The idealogical line between deviant and legitimate is thin for such a learned man to have such a cocksure stance

    Speaking of “reaching for the bottom”,

    even with downed pants, Senator Larry Craig was shown to have a “wide stance”.

  • Pepperdine president rolls over, plays dead, OR is sly as a fox. I think Pepperdine wants it both ways: “Christian” conservative to get donors’ $, and reputation as a mainstream academic inst. to attract good students.

    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.

  • I am an alumnus with many friends at the university, and trust me, Pepperdine is 100% on Peterson’s side here. It’s just disgusting. I got some nasty e-mails from Darryl Tippens, the provost, who I have always suspected was a serious closet case (and who has a gay son, or so I hear). The school is hiding behind “academic freedom.” Well, there’s no “academic freedom” to commit fraud. Students in California (that’s why they referred to Massachusetts in the ad) CANNOT be required to learn about gay marriage – or any marriage, or sex, or domestic partnerships — in school. The Court in Jenkins v. Bowen already confirmed that, and called the argument Peterson now is using “false and misleading.” Even the conservative San Diego Union-Tribune noted that falsity and called the Peterson ads “inflammatory,” “offensive,” and “shameful.”

    I am sure if I donated 100 million dollars to Pepperdine and then complained about this ad, Pepperdine would take a much different stance. It’s all about the right-wing donors. The truth be damned.

  • Regardless of what you think or what sinful things you guys approve of. God Love’s you and hopefully you’ll one day realize how ridiculous you all sound.

  • Shelly? Oh the irony! If I didn’t know any better I’d think you were baiting for controversial responses, but I’ll bite: On what authority do you feel comfortable proclaiming who god loves? Or anything about any god’s state of affairs and/or intentions. To my sensibilities, that is a hugely “sinful” thing to do. Just try doing the proper thing and speak only of your own wishes, will, and intentions, don’t profess to know what god loves.

  • Marie,

    I love how you quote the California education code section out of context and leave out how there how parents can already “opt out” on all those subjects. The same would be true if Prop 8 is defeated.

    And hmmm, by omitting that information you are guilty of: propaganda yourself.

    The state Supreme Court was doing its job, by interpreting the laws and deeming DOMA unconstitutional. If people hadn’t voted an unconstitutional law into place in 2000, then the Supreme Court wouldn’t have had anything to overrule.

    VOTE NO on 8!

  • Marie,

    The entire “school” argument is total crap. Show me in the text that Prop 8 does anything to legislate anything about schools. IT DOESN’T. Prop 8 has NOTHING to do with schools.

    It’s a good thing YOUR definition of unconstitutional counts for squat.

    In case you never learned it in your civics class, interpreting the constitution falls to our Supreme Court, “activist” or not.

    Discrimination against a certain group of people is not what our state or country is about. Our constitution upholds that.

    You can go ahead and believe it’s ok to treat an entire group of people as second-class citizens and vote what you want, but I do not believe our law should treat people unequally and I am voting “NO on 8” and you aren’t going to change my mind.

  • Well said, finally a good report on this stuff

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