Friday, November 12, 2004

Politically correcting humor on campus 

FIRE has issued a letter to the faculty of the University of Alabama asking that they rescind a resolution requesting the administration to enforce speech code against entertainers and other speakers brought to campus. This occurred after a comedian brought to campus told a joke at the expense of gays.
This policy should not be adopted by the University of Alabama administration. Not only does the policy, as written, constitute a vague and dangerously overbroad restriction on what may be said by speakers at UA, but the message of the policy�that controversial forms of expression should be out of bounds�is incompatible with the �marketplace of ideas� that universities depend upon to maintain their intellectual vitality. As an institution of higher learning, UA has a moral responsibility to its students, faculty members, and the Alabama taxpayers that support it to ensure that its marketplace of ideas thrives�even when some of the ideas expressed may be unpopular or �offensive.�

A couple of months ago, Professor James Otteson wondered whether the ban could be extended. Meanwhile Erin O'Connor observes, "How many times does it have to be said? The proper response to bad speech is more and better speech."