Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hate Speech on Campus
Instapundit comes to the defense of persecution on campus, in the name of "freedom". Even at a public University like Alabama, officials have every right to set policies insuring that groups and individuals are not subject to public persecution for the fact of their existence. The horrors of persecution start well before stones are thrown.

UA faculty passed an extensive resolution in condemnation of a University-sponsored social event in which a "comedian" harassed a gay student on stage and ridiculed gays generally. I think comedians should be cut some slack in most cases. They are, after all, telling jokes and those can make fun of lots of kinds of people. The faculty statement notes that the University is already committed to "programming that is free of bigotry and malicious aggression." And in its strongest recommendation, says:
Be it further resolved, that University officials in charge of student programming develop clear policies restricting any behavior which demeans or reduces an individual based on group affiliation or personal characteristics, or which promotes hate or discrimination, in any approved University program or activity, and that these policies be incorporated into any contract entered into by the University regarding participation in formal University programs;
This is hardly an unconstitutional, or even unfortunate, prior restraint. There are all kinds of things you can't say and do whenever you'd like on campus, even a public one. Gay students withstand enough persecution socially and at unofficial events. An administration would not be anti-freedom for determining to make official events a haven from that kind of "bigotry" and "malicious aggression." Any more than they are anti-freedom for making official events smoke-free.

One of the most ridiculous arguments libertarians throw at us (conservatives do it too, when it lets them support gay/minority bashing) is the one that says freedom of speech requires the tolerance, in every public setting, of the most hateful and egregious intolerance. Accepting the right of gay people to exist is the act of tolerance.

There are no doubt plenty of University-related events and places that would allow for anti-gay views to be expressed. Freedom of speech is intact. But it does not mean, and never has meant, that anyone can say anything, anytime, anywhere without consequence. If it is engaged in programming at all, a public school does and should have every right to shape that programming in a way that protects its students from persecution.

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