Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Free Speech for $1000

The Volokh Conspiracy has some news from our friendly fascist neighbors up north:

Quebec's Human Rights Commission has ordered a man to pay a $1,000 fine because he referred to another man as a "fifi," the French equivalent of "fag." Worse yet, the comment wasn't made to the complainant (which would at least raise red flags about an implicit threat or true harassment of the individual), but to his "traveling companion." According to the CBC, the "Rights Commission ruled that the term was an inappropriate way of referring to homosexuals and adds to the disgrace and lack of respect of human dignity people are entitled to."

Free speech is free... unless it lacks respect or causes disgrace. This encroachment of totalitarianism upon Canada is one of the reasons that the "diversity" movement on college campuses frightens me. K-State is considered a red light school for free speech by FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education) because of the policies on harrassment.

According to the University Handbook,

Discrimination, harassment, or other conduct that diminishes the worth of any individual person is incompatible with the fundamental values of the University. Every person, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability, shall be treated with respect and dignity (see Appendix J). No person shall be subject to sexual, racial, or similar harassment or abuse, either of physical, verbal, or psychological nature.

According to this standard, I have violated the policy multiple times in my columns in the Collegian, such as when I skewered the Irish on St. Pat's Day (discrimination based on national origin) or even when I made fun of the terrorist Ahmed Yassin for not being able to enjoy his promised 72 virgins because of a lack of heavenly viagra (poking fun at the man's creed).

The vagueness of the phrase is what should really scare people "Every person... shall be treated with respect and dignity." What is respectful and dignified? If I call a pacifist an ignorant moonbat, is that hate speech? It's certainly not respectful. What if a person thinks that homosexuality is a sin, that women should bear the responsibility to raise children, or that Islam is a religion of pieces? These aren't very "respectful" views; so are they hate speech? Or, what if someone's "creed" endorses female genital mutilation, honor killings, and wife-beatings? Is this due an inherent respect and dignity? The vagueness of the speech code allows for selective application... not a good thing for freedom of speech, which can offend different people, depending on what is said, and to whom.

There are many views which are abhorrent. But they are just that: views, mere words, with power, yes, but incapable of directly harming another person beyond emotional damage, which is entirely subjective. We benefit from a healthy market place of ideas, and it is arrogance of the highest order for a person to dictate to others what views are right and wrong, without giving those views a proper airing first.

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