Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Reverse hostile environments? 

We talked briefly about this case last spring, wherein a Univ. of North Carolina student complained of harassment from an email from his professor for his openly Christian and anti-homosexual views expressed in class. David Bernstein reports that the U.S. Dept. of Education has sided with the student.
"The e-mail message not only subjected the student to intentional discrimination and harassment, but also discouraged the robust exchange of ideas that is intrinsic to higher education and is at the very heart of the Constitution's protection of free speech," Alice B. Wender, the Education Department's southern regional director of civil rights concluded in a letter to UNC Chancellor James Moeser on Wednesday.
Bernstein suggests that other Christian groups will use the ruling "as an invitation to use hostile environment law against such professors." I hope not. It's bad law, and it strikes me as hypocritical to use the same cudgel that others have used against conservatives. I'd rather see efforts made to restrict or eliminate the use of the law in academia as "discouraging the robust exchange of ideas that is intrinsic to higher education."