Sunday, July 19, 2009

Free Speech vs. Politcal Correctness

The Los Angeles Community College District had a warning on their website:

"If [you are] unsure if certain comments or behavior are offensive do not do it, do not say it. ... Ask if something you do or say is being perceived as offensive or unwelcome."

This warning might seem quite harmless, but fortunately, Judge King didn’t think so. According to (July 16, 2009): “Judge King agreed that the policy violated First Amendment protections of free speech by silencing viewpoints that others would find offensive.”

As it turned out, this wasn’t an unfounded concern. U.S. District Judge George H. King ruled that “the District's policy as written had created the environment that emboldened his speech professor to call [his student Jonathan] Lopez a ‘fascist ba***rd’ for explaining his Christian beliefs and how they related to his views against same-sex marriage” [during his assigned oral speech assignment]. Wisely, King concluded:

"Thus, the Policy reaches constitutionally protected speech that is merely offensive to some listeners, such as discussions of religion, homosexual relations and marriage, sexual morality and freedom, polygamy, or even gender politics and policies. While it may be desirable to promote harmony and civility, these values cannot be enforced at the expense of protected speech under the First Amendment."

We’re left to wonder how many other schools have such policies that would serve to intimidate and suppress free speech. We also have to be astounded by the irony of prohibiting “offensive” but responsible and necessary speech by persecuting the innocent with all manner of offensive tactics. Lopez’s professor had even tried to have him expelled. Who’s the fascist here?

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