Anti-harassment and anti-bullying regulations at public high schools issue from the same mindset. It's not bullying or harassment the drafters of these regulations are targeting -- since such conduct is never permitted under any school's behavioral code -- but certain conduct-specific speech with which they disagree. No, these codes are generally designed to prevent students from airing their opinions, for example, disapproving of homosexual behavior.
At South Windsor high school in Connecticut last week, four students were sent home because they wore T-shirts with the slogan: "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," in response to an annual Day of Silence organized by the national Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Only one side of the message -- pro-homosexual -- is acceptable, because to permit free speech of the opposite message is to incite violence against homosexuals.
Remember when Bill Clinton, while musing about the Oklahoma City bombing, fingered "hate-talk radio" as the "purveyors of hate and division" who "leave the impression, by their very words, that violence is acceptable?" Or how about when columnist Carl Rowan opined that he was "absolutely certain" that "the harsher rhetoric of the Gingriches and Doles creates a climate of violence in America?" Then there was Bryant Gumbel, who said, "The bombing in Oklahoma City has focused renewed attention on the rhetoric that's been coming from the right and those who cater to angry white men."
Let's also not forget that former Senate Majority/Minority Leader Tom Daschle suggested that when Rush Limbaugh and others attack those in public life, their listeners "aren't satisfied just to listen." Daschle argued there is actually a connection between rhetoric critical of public officials and threats of violence against them.
The examples pointing to this imaginary connection, including the writings of Jeffrey Rosen and Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, are seemingly endless and varied. But the intended message is always the same: Red-staters are, on the whole, an uncivilized, unstable and violent lot who can't be trusted not to storm into violence when their political and religious leaders issue criticisms against people or institutions.
While far too many liberals apparently can't fathom this, conservative ideas and speech are neither hateful nor conducive to violence. It is important that conservatives recognize this Leftist tactic for the bullying and intimidation that it is and ignore it, and never surrender their right and obligation to call attention to forces, such as judicial activism, they see as damaging to the republic.