Free speech for the gander

At U-Mass Amherst, a candidate for student government president was called a racist for opposing a plan to set aside seats in the Student Senate for ALANA, a group claiming to represent non-white students. Throwing around accusations of racism was OK. Parodying the charge — by drawing a caricature of a Klan Grand Wizard endorsing the minority group — may get nine students suspended or expelled. They were photographed standing in front of the caricature. FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) is on the case.

Less than one year after the University of Massachusetts Amherst defended the free speech rights of a columnist who celebrated the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, the university has campaigned to persecute nine students who were seen in photographs containing a caricature of one of them as the “Grand Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan. The drawing, which was intended to mock both the Klan itself and spurious accusations of “racism” made during the course of a student government election campaign, depicted the so-called Grand Wizard with his eyes crossed and his tongue hanging out of his mouth. The mere existence of such a drawing led UMass to charge the nine students with “harassment” and threaten them with penalties ranging from criminal charges to expulsion.

The drawing clearly is mocking the charges of racism, says Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy.  It’s not endorsing the Klan.
A September 27 “diversity panel” including a vice chancellor, several professors and the student government president labeled the nine students the “KKK Nine.”

UMass has charged all nine students with “harassment conduct less than a physical attack” and with drinking at the post-election party.  The university “has offered ‘settlements’ that include punishments far more severe than those typically imposed for first-time alcohol offenses, FIRE notes. 

In a letter to university officials, FIRE observed that the UMass president defended the free speech rights of Rene Gonzalez, a graduate student who wrote a Daily Collegian article last spring that called Army Ranger Pat Tillman an “idiot” and “a ‘G.I. Joe’ guy who got what was coming to him”  after the former pro football star was killed fighting in Afghanistan.

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  1. mike from oregon says:

    Same old, same old – you have first amendment rights unless it disagrees with something that the liberals don’t want to hear. At that point, you are called names (racist) and any other forms of punishment that they can think up, come into play.

    As for the ‘reserving’ seats in the student Senate for ALANA – BS – ALANA should campaign like everyone else. If they make a good enough case for themselves and get enough people to vote for them, great, if they can’t – that’s the way it goes. All ‘affimative action’ does is says, “You’re not good enough or smart enough to get elected on your own. You NEED our help to try to get somewhere that you aren’t good enough to get on your own.” – It’s degrading.

  2. Jack Tanner says:

    In MA free speech only works along ideological lines. Criticizing the US is fine but criticizing minorities is racist hate speech.

  3. superdestroyer says:

    Imagine four years of Kerry appointing judges who believe the same as the administration of UMASS. The US will become a one party state and function much like a banana republic where saying something against the ruling, liberals Democrats will get you arrested for a hate crime.

  4. Mike in Texas says:

    There’s an excellent book on free speech and how it’s only free if you agree with the PC crowd. The name of the book is Free Speech for Thee but not for Me. I can’t remember the name of the author but it was very interesting reading. The author frequently stands up for the First Amendment rights of various speakers and has been called the AntiChrist for doing so.

  5. I made a post about the WEA at UM-Amherst at the link below.

    It’s amazing how much things change when you change races in this colorblind world, doesn’t it?

  6. I mean the link below here.

  7. Bluemount says:

    Sad, racism means you criticized a person of a different race. Child abuse means you didn’t support the school in mass drugging mostly males. Statistically you don’t have to demonstrat a basis for racism.

    The sadist point is real racism does exists, and it gets no attention at all.

  8. Steve LaBonne says:

    MiT- the name you’re looking for is Nat Hentoff. Sadly, that book seems to become yet more relevant every day.

  9. Jack Tanner says:

    Blue – you’re absolutely right. Incidents like this and the schools reaction so trivializes actual cases of racism that people become inured to the differences.

  10. Walter E. Wallis says:

    It is time to relieve these institutions of the indignity of relying on money from an oppressive racist government.


  1. Free speech for me but not for thee files

    [source] At U-Mass Amherst, a candidate for student government president was called a racist for opposing a plan to set…