The right to offend

At Georgia Tech, a conservative Christian student and a conservative Jew are suing for the right to express their views of homosexuality. From the LA Times:

ATLANTA — Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.

Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she’s a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.

Malhotra and co-plaintiff Orit Sklar want tolerance for religious viewpoints.

Malhotra said she had been reprimanded by college deans several times in the last few years for expressing conservative religious and political views. When she protested a campus production of “The Vagina Monologues” with a display condemning feminism, the administration asked her to paint over part of it.

Gay activists complained about a letter she sent on behalf of the Georgia Tech College Republicans objecting to Coming Out Week and complaining that the university helps fund Pride Alliance, a gay group.

The student activist who received the letter, Felix Hu, described it as “rude, unfair, presumptuous” — and disturbing enough that Pride Alliance forwarded it to a college administrator. Soon after, Malhotra said, she was called in to a dean’s office. Students can be expelled for intolerant speech, but she said she was only reprimanded.

Still, she said, the incident has left her afraid to speak freely. She’s even reluctant to aggressively advertise the campus lectures she arranges on living by the Bible. “Whenever I’ve spoken out against a certain lifestyle, the first thing I’m told is ‘You’re being intolerant, you’re being negative, you’re creating a hostile campus environment,’ ” Malhotra said.

If college students can’t be rude, unfair and presumptuous, they’ll have to take vows of silence.

FIRE’s Torch has more on freedom of expression issues at Georgia Tech.

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Comments

  1. M. J. Wise says:

    Ah yes, the infamous speech codes designed to protect poor, innocent students from anything that might turn those ears of theirs even a little bit red. As someone who has been a student at public institutions of higher education for 5 years now, I can say I find it amusingly naive that anyone still has the quaint belief that colleges are really about open discourse or the free exchange of ideas. They’re about the endless repetition of those ideas embraced by its administration and the vilification of anyone that dares to think for him or herself.

  2. Ahh, the CLASSIC, “you’re intolerant, because you don’t tolerate my intolerance defense”.

    Maybe we should ask Ruth, “If God can do anything, can he make a rock so heavy he can’t even lift it?”

  3. Indigo Warrior says:

    At Georgia Tech, a conservative Christian student and a conservative Jew are suing for the right to express their views of homosexuality.

    I’d like to see an ultra-conservative Muslim (are there really any other kinds) join the Christian and Jew in their campaign. I wonder what campus liberals would think then, and if they would change their minds?

  4. M. J. Wise says:

    Gee, Robert, my dictionary says intolerant means to be “unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters.” I strongly defend the right for people to spout just about anything they want around campus, no matter how well-intentioned but wrongheaded I feel most of it may be. It’s the wholesale suppression of “bad” ideas I’m against – THAT’S intolerance, which is what many speech codes enshrine.

    Today, I was urged by a new set of campus posters to report “bias incidents” to a 24-hour hotline. What on earth is a bias incident? Everybody has biases. I am sincerely tempted to call the hotline and admit that I am biased against stupidity and see what they say. But if they want to advertise their silly hotline, that’s fine by me, even though it is funded with university dollars.

    Anyway, if your redefinition of intolerance includes my right to speak freely on a public campus, then yes, my “intolerance” should be protected. If intolerance means committing acts of violence and property destruction, well, that’s something else entirely.

  5. Cardinal Fang says:

    I *think* a bias incident is something like one student calling another a n****r. Is that the kind of thing you want to tolerate? I do not; I think it creates a hostile campus.

  6. Andy Freeman says:

    > I *think* a bias incident is something like one student calling another a n****r.

    In other words, many ordinary conversations between African-Americans are bias incidents.

  7. Mike in Texas says:

    Once again, I have to ask just to make sure I didn’t miss something in the news: Has the first amendment been modified to include freedom from being offended by someone’s speech?

  8. Maybe we should ask Ruth, “If God can do anything, can he make a rock so heavy he can’t even lift it?”

    Robert, you’ve totally demolished my Christian faith. That was deep.

  9. Cardinal Fang wrote:

    I do not; I think it creates a hostile campus.

    Then wouldn’t all pejoratives create the same hostility? Should “wop”, “kike”, “budda-head”, “cracker” and “raghead” also be banned because they create a hostile environment? Or are some pejoratives less hostility-creating then others? Who decides which pejoratives are on the proscribed list and which ones aren’t?

    Also, as Andy points out, the word “nigger” has different meanings in different contexts. Should uniform penalties apply regardless of the context? Does that mean scholars studying of the use/history of such terms will be required to tiptoe around the words being examined using such unweildy and patronizing phrases as “the “N” word”?

    Mike in Texas wrote:

    Has the first amendment been modified to include freedom from being offended by someone’s speech?

    No, but not from want of trying. See above.

  10. MonkeyInChief says:

    When a fundamentalist muslim student sues to be able to hit every uncovered with a stick, I think we’ll see a different a reaction out of you right wingers.

  11. M. J. Wise says:

    Oh my goodness, I think monkey in chief (truly clever name, by the way) just had a bias incident! Somebody, call the hotline. Tell me, are all the campus liberals lazy enough these days that they call EVERYBODY ELSE rightwingers if they don’t tow the line, even the anarchists?