Occidental College fired a student radio shock jock, and found him guilty of sexual harassment for on-air jokes. FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) is defending the free speech rights of Jason Antebi, who hosted a political parody show called “Rant and Rave” on Occidental’s student radio station.
The program frequently mocked Occidental’s administration, its student government, and various political and social causes. Antebi was also a vice president in Occidental’s student government, where he was highly critical of various administrative decisions.
Three students, two of whom were student government rivals, claimed in March that Antebi’s show promoted “disrespect and slander” against “women, diversity, and Occidental College” and thus constituted “hostile environment” harassment. Antebi had asked listeners to call in with “rape victim stories” and called student newspaper staff members “stupid retards,” notes Student Press Law Center.
“Part of the idea of harassment, when it’s applied correctly, it has to be behavior you’re exposed to against your will,” (FIRE’s Greg) Lukianoff said in an interview April 7. “One of the reasons why it never comes up on radio is that you actually have to tune in; that’s not the same as being involuntarily exposed to something.”
He said the students could have stopped what they called harassment “simply by shutting off the radio.”
California’s Leonard Law prohibits private colleges from disciplining students for expression protected by the First Amendment.
After firing Antebi, the administration took control of student government, charging it was plagued by “deteriorating effectiveness, increasing controversy and mutual recriminations.”