go HOME

Foundation
Articles
Media
Photos
Links

Moorpark
Speech
(12/68)
Editorial
(11/68)
Letter
(11/68)
Jeanne
Marshall
remembers
Rod Serling
Rod remembers
Jeanne
Rod's Writing
Seminar

Rod Serling at Moorpark College in 1968

Rod Serling at Moorpark College in 1968

Loyalty Oath Controversy Erupts
in Visit of Rod Serling to MC
by Lee Rizor

November 6, 1968

The question is: If a man signs an oath of Allegiance to his country as a gesture of affirmation of loyalty does it have any real meaning; would a dishonorable man sign it in bad faith, or why would an honorable man refuse to sign it? This well-worn controversy has been debated from pool halls to the halls of Congress. And now it has come to Moorpark College.

The Don Quixote to tilt this particular windmill came in the person of Rod Serling, famous writer and creator of the successful television series, "The Twilight Zone." Mrs. Jeanne Marshall, student editor of Quest Magazine, had been instrumental in arranging for Mr. Serling to speak at Moorpark College on December 3.

Moorpark College policy dictates that all guest appearances must be sponsored by a campus organization. The Community Services Committee was to sponsor Mr. Serling.

According to the State of California Constitution, Section 3 of Article XX, all Civil Defense and Public Employees are required to sign an Oath of Affirmation of Allegiance. This includes anyone paid by public funds. Since the Community Services Committee operates solely on public funds from which Mr. Serling was to be paid, the loyalty oath was sent to him for his signature.

In his subsequent letter he stated, "I am returning my signed Oath of Allegiance as requested in your note of last week. I will not, however, appear at Moorpark College on December 3rd, or at any other time. In some twenty years of professional life, during which time I have spoken to no fewer than one hundred colleges and universities, I have never been asked to officially reaffirm my loyalty as a prerequisite for my appearance. I find the request demeaning and altogether improper. I have signed it only as a gesture to reassure the powers that be there I am neither a Communist, an Anarchist or a Subversive of any stripebut principles and conscience prohibit my appearance there on the basis of what has been asked of me."

Further developments and discussions throughout the past week have cleared the way for Mr. Serling to speak after all.

"How could a thing like this happen at Moorpark College," asked Mrs. Marshall, "I am not only indignant at the humiliation perpetrated on Rod, but more than anything else I am shocked and disappointed at Moorpark College. Although I realize it is not the fault of the college, it does distort our image as a liberal institution."

Dr. Howard Siegel, division chairman of the Humanities Department, who had been involved in arranging Mr. Serling's appearance here, called Mr. Serling and asked if he would reconsider his decision if another organization would sponsor him and he would be paid from private funds.

"I will speak under one consideration;" he said, "and that is that I am not paid at all." That is his position at this lime. The Drama Club will sponsor his appearance.

Dr. Siegel said, "I can only have respect for Mr. Serling's distaste for the Loyalty Oath. This oath is precisely the sort of demand upon an individual that one would expect in a totalitarian country. One would not be surprised, for example, at such a simplistic sense of allegiance in, say, Communist China, where one is called upon publicly and ritualistically to avow his loyalty. The most horrendous aspect of such token allegiances is that they overlook, and thus by implication deny, the complex and profound beliefs by which men live."

It was suggested to the Associated Students, by Dr. Siegel, that they set aside a fund of their own for persons the students would like to hear speak, but might object to procedures for payment from public funds and that would according to Dr. Siegel, "put Moorpark College in the same favorable position that nearly every other college in the state occupies."

Dr. Donald Morris, chairman of tile Community Services Committee, said "The district has been very gener­ous about the use of public funds. The committee voted unanimously to have Mr. Serling appear here and I was stunned and disappointed at his reply and the prospect that the students would be denied the opportunity of hearing this renowned author."

"I regret that some people wish to make a mountain out of a molehill concerning this matter of the oath," continued Morris, "and I hope that it doesn't become a divisive factor at Moorpark College." When questioned about this matter, Dr. John J. Collins, President of Moorpark College, said, "It is not a college policy, it is the law, and we must comply. As far as I am concerned personally, I believe that there is such a wide latitude for freedom in this country that, even though I am, along with others, required to sign it, I don't view it as restrictive."


THE OATH ITSELF

“I solemnly affirm/swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States of America, the Constitution of the State of California, and the laws of the United States and the State of California and will, by precept and example, promote respect for the Flag and the statutes of the State of California, reverence for law and order, and undivided allegiance to the Government of the United States of America.”