Thursday, June 19, 2003

Another dorm speech code 

Attention: FIRE. The Volokh Conspiracy has found another case of free speech violations on campus, this time at the University of Alabama. Already students are being asked to take down the Confederate flag.
Last week, students living in Byrd Hall, home to the Mallet Assembly, said Res Life officials told them to remove a Confederate flag hanging in the dormitory's second-floor hallway in accordance with the new policy.

[Professor-in-residence Byron Rush] White said the father of a current Byrd resident had complained about the flag to the building's black janitor, asking how she could tolerate such a display. The janitor then tipped off White.

White said he called Res Life and was told no complaints had been received. He said he received a phone call later in the day from Res Life after it had received a complaint.

"They were citing an impending rule that would be in effect this fall," White said. "We refused based on First Amendment rights, and a day later Residential Life dropped the issue."

White said he does not believe the rule is a result of the incident at Byrd Hall.

"It seems that the root cause is most likely the flags and other displays in the windows at [Mary] Burke Hall," White said. "However, this incident did tip the University's hand as far as the new rule was concerned."

Foster said the policy does not specifically target flags.

He said Res Life assistant director Allan Guenther and other UA officials will review and revise the initial draft.

"What flavor the policy has is still being determined," Foster said.

White said he believes the Byrd incident reflects how the University will enforce the new policy.

"The incident at Mallet shows us how Residential Life plans to use this rule," he said. "Someone complains, whatever is complained about is declared offensive and the owner must take the display down or face punishment."
Sound familiar? Yes, it certainly does. I love the line "What flavor the policy has is still being determined." "A rich, toxic bouquet full of censorship, with a slight aftertaste of communism. A generous nose of McCarthy. Goes well with celery sticks and light ranch dressing at diversity training."