Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Challenging the Speech Police

After a wonderful few days in the Atlanta area visiting the in-laws over the Easter holiday, I returned home to find a few headlines in my in-box. Given that I spent three years in law school in Atlanta, one's mind naturally remembers one's experiences. It seems that our favorite bar in town, Aunt Charlie's in Buckhead, has closed. A number of us would regularly watch L.A. Law on Thursday nights, and then run over to Buckhead to play darts, drink beer, and close the place. Very sad.

And there was an interesting story in today's Emory Wheel, the campus newsletter of my law school alma mater.

It seems that the Ramblin' Wrecks from Georgia Tech are being sued over enforcement of a speech code which discriminates against observant Christians and Jews. You know: the ones who are against sin and therefore oppose the radical homosexual agenda.
The suit alleges that Georgia Tech restricts students' First Amendment rights by punishing "acts of intolerance," by not funding political or religious student groups and through the "religious indoctrination" of the school's Safe Space diversity program.

"Because of the conclusive nature of the Institute's statements on religion and homosexuality, Plaintiffs are made to feel like outsiders to the Institute's orthodoxy," the suit states.

The suit seeks unspecified damages and an injunction against Tech's policies.

"We want those unconstitutional policies off the books," French said.

Georgia Tech's Community Guide says acts of intolerance include "any attempt to injure, harm, malign or harass a person because of ... sexual/affectional orientation" and "denigrating written/verbal communications ... directed toward an individual because of their characteristics or beliefs."

The suit says Tech has targeted the Georgia Tech College Republicans - of which Malhotra is the chair and Sklar is a member - because of three of the club's activities: a letter dismissing the campus gay rights group Pride Alliance as a "sex club," a display condemning feminism and The Vagina Monologues, and an "affirmative action bake sale" in which students were charged differently based on race or gender.

Administrators reprimanded Malhotra [one of the Plaintiffs] for the letter, which she wrote in conjunction with other College Republicans, ordered the students to paint over part of their anti-feminist display and forced them to close the bake sale, French said.

"There's no indication that statements supportive of affirmative action are being shut down," he said. "These issues are not so settled by society that they're not subject to free speech and debate."
The really interesting comments come from the advocates of the radical homosexual agenda. You know them: they're the ones who assert that sexual perversion is an immutable characteristic, but call their organizations "_____ Pride." Question: how can one legitimately take "pride" in something over which one has no control? Oh, never mind.
Tech junior Scott McKee, the Pride Alliance president and a student coordinator of Safe Space, said the program merely provides factual information about the beliefs and actions of different religions regarding homosexuality, without advocating one belief system over another. [Translation: We get our space to trash religious convictions and the standards of 5000 years of civilized society, but those nasty bigots who dare to judge people according to their behavior better shut up.]

McKee said he thinks the speech codes are necessary and allow constructive debate.

"I think there's a very fine line between free speech and hate speech," he said. [Translation: Free speech for me, but not for thee (hat tip to Nat Hentoff)].

French said 70 percent of the nation's 400 "leading universities" have speech codes. There are several other legal challenges pending across the country at schools including Penn State University and the California State University system, he said, but a court has never upheld a speech code. Many lawsuits are settled out of court. [Translation: Georgia Tech is going to lose, and is going to lose big, but its far-Left administrators are fighting the good fight!].

Emory Pride Co-president Walt Whinnery, a College sophomore said Emory Pride has been in contact with Pride Alliance, and members have offered their support if needed.

"When a situation like this happens in the same city, you're concerned about the mind-set of someone filing a lawsuit like this, and you wonder, 'Is this something a lot of people believe?'" he said.

Saralyn Chestnut, the director of Emory's Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Life, said she advocates free speech but that students "have an obligation to treat members of the community with dignity and respect." [Full quotation: "students 'have an obligation to treat members of the community with dignity and respect,' unless they're radical homosexual activists, and then they're free to trash the faithful."].

McKee said he hopes the suit is resolved quickly and fairly.

"Most people that I've talked to about it disapprove of this sort of action and are very disappointed that students are willing to waste so much of the Institute's time and money in a manner like this," he said. [Translation: Lawsuits perverting the Constitution to attack laws we don't like are good; lawsuits relying upon the plain language of the Constitution to attack our assaults on free speech are bad].
The article also celebrates the fact that notoriously politically-correct Emory, "As a private university, ... is immune to a similar lawsuit." The story is accompanied by an editorial (the link is posted above) denouncing the plaintiffs as "both right and wrong," and makes a ringing endorsement of those wishing to mainstream perversion: "The student body needs to support the Pride Alliance and denounce the students' comments."

Well, maybe alma mater ("fostering mother") is too strong a term.