Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Careful with that banana 

Stuart Taylor in National Journal covers the Cal Poly case and uncovers some other examples of speech codes on campus:
Here are some representative examples of rules that appear to be current as far as FIRE could tell from checking university Web sites: Georgetown warns (PDF) against "expression" that is "inappropriate" and that severely offends others on matters of "race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual preference." (Would that include quoting Justice Antonin Scalia's acerbic dissent from the June 26 Supreme Court decision upholding gay rights?) At the University of Massachusetts, students can be disciplined for speaking in ways that create a "sexually offensive" environment, or for displaying "offensive or sexually suggestive" pictures, cartoons, or posters. At Princeton, they can be disciplined for "unwanted sexual attention that makes a person feel uncomfortable." (Asking for a date after being once turned down?) At Brown, "unwelcome verbal expressions," "degrading language," "jokes or innuendoes," "sounds or whistles," and "gestures" can amount to sexual harassment. At Dartmouth, "sexual harassment [can be] subtle and indirect, possibly even unintentional." Many campuses define "leering" as a form of harassment. A training document once used at the University of Maryland even warned against "holding or eating food provocatively." (Handle bananas with care.)
Mike Adams, the ubiquitous UNC-Wilmington professor who is making a name for himself on TownHall, is applying for the position of Director of the Office for Campus Diversity and would help with this problem:
Perhaps most importantly, I will seek to have all university speech codes abolished. Currently, we promote the idea of diversity through affirmative action and a number of other programs. If those programs succeed in bringing people with different views together, we must expect them to get offended from time to time. Therefore, speech codes are at odds with our larger diversity mission.

My final goal will be to abolish the Office of Campus Diversity. Every professor should know that it is their duty to prepare students to function in our democratic society. They should also know that the United States Constitution is the cornerstone of our democracy. Therefore, we will simply hand each professor a copy of the Constitution along with their apartment finder packets when they arrive to teach here. Hopefully, they will begin by reading the First Amendment. This will save the taxpayers a lot of money by not having to pay my salary as Director of Diversity. I will probably start a radio talk show after I abolish my job.

So happens, Mike, we've got an opening too! May I nominate you?