Monday, July 25, 2005

Life in Academia & the Sensitivity of Professors

A story today from the Family Research Council, familiar to those of us who work in Flakademia where the right to free speech is not extended to those whose speech disturbs professors.
Student Punished for Expressing Opposition to Homosexuality

In an astonishing case that should alarm all who value freedom of speech, William Patterson University in New Jersey has convicted Jihad Daniel, a student employee, of "discrimination" and "harassment" for complaining about an unsolicited e-mail announcing a lesbian-themed film. In his response to the e-mail, Daniel requested that he not receive any more such e-mails, and referred to homosexuality and lesbianism as "perversions." This response, while blunt, was hardly "harassment." But the professor who sent out the e-mail claimed it was, and accused Daniel of violating university non- discrimination policy because his response "sounded threatening." The university found Daniel guilty of violating state discrimination and harassment regulations, and a letter of reprimand was placed in his permanent employee file. Daniel contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which appealed to New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. Harvey dismissed the complaint, asserting that "speech which violates a non-discrimination policy is not protected" by First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech. As FIRE notes, Harvey and William Patterson University would do well to recall the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, writing in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, that "freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom."

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