Last month, on the anniversary of 1989's Tiananmen Square massacre in communist China, Austin Tong posted an Instagram photo of him holding his AR-15 with the accompanying phrase "don't tread on me."
Image source: YouTube screenshot
It seemed a more than fitting gesture. After all, Tong was born in China and moved to the United States with his family 15 years ago to experience freedom and democracy — the same freedom and democracy that students in his home country tried to attain before its totalitarian regime cracked down on them.
But we're living in 2020 — the Year of Cancel Culture. And America is not the same country it was when Tong moved here.
And while Tong is now a college student himself, neither his fellow students nor his school — Fordham University — appreciated his exercise of free speech.
Tong told the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action that he received big-time backlash from fellow students over his post displaying his legally purchased firearm and got calls for expulsion and even death threats.
Then Fordham Safety officers actually showed up at his house a few hours after his post hit Instagram.
"[I] received a call from the officers saying they were a few minutes away and wanted to talk," Tong told the NRA. "I looked out my door and saw them standing outside my home. One came in and one stayed with the car. It was basically about 20 minutes of questions about the firearm, why I posted the pictures, and what I was trying to say."
Then Fordham's administration threw the book at Tong for his post, charging him with "Bias and/or Hate Crimes" and "threats/intimidation," according to a disciplinary letter from the school.
His penalties? First off, disciplinary probation through remainder of his college career — which Tong is scheduled to finish next May. He's also banned from campus and must complete his degree online. If Tong needs to venture on campus, he has to get permission beforehand.
Furthermore, by Aug. 10 he must complete activities related to learning about "implicit bias" which involve "required reading" as well as a meeting with Office for Multicultural Affairs.
Oh, and Tong also is supposed to pen an apology letter. That was due Thursday.
But Tong isn't playing Fordham's game.
How is Tong responding?
"I will not apologize," he told the Washington Free Beacon. "I did nothing wrong, and they did everything wrong. [Fordham is] a total disgrace. I will not apologize, whatever consequence there may be."
Tong added to the NRA that he "was shocked, appalled, and disappointed. But I didn't do anything wrong, and that's why, if they carry through with their threats, we're going to sue."
Tong's lawyer Brett Josphe is preparing a suit against Fordham that may be filed in the coming weeks, the paper said.
"For a mere $50,000 a year in tuition, Fordham has smeared our client's reputation and permanently damaged his career prospects," Josphe added to the Free Beacon. "This behavior by the school and its officials shocks the conscience, and there should be a heavy price to pay."
The NRA also came to Tong's defense, releasing a video describing his plight.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
Amy Hunter, spokeswoman for the gun-rights group, told the paper that Tong is a "victim of intolerance."
"Under no circumstances should he be attacked by gutless keyboard troopers or penalized by his university because of his support of the Second Amendment," she added to the Free Beacon. "It's absolutely shameful that anyone would condemn him for supporting the Bill of Rights. Fordham University owes Mr. Tong a full apology."
More from the paper:
Tong said the university's actions appear hypocritical in light of recent violent protests in New York City. He said Fordham has not condemned or taken any action against students who've harassed and harmed police officers. The university has remained silent about alum Urooj Rahman, who faces federal charges after being caught on camera torching a police vehicle.
"[Fordham] is very hypocritical, and they don't denounce anything that [leftist] students do," Tong added to the Free Beacon. "One [Fordham graduate] threw a molotov cocktail out of a car. You have students supporting hurting police and hurting businesses, and Fordham turned a blind eye."
But Tong also told the paper that "thousands of people across the world ... have reached out to me, and they have all sorts of backgrounds and stories about how they were silenced, how they were bullied, how their university silenced them. When I saw that, I felt something within me."
Fordham Student Charged With Hate Crime By University for Picture of Gun Sends SAVAGE Message youtu.be