I recently wrote an editorial entitled ?With Liberty and Comfort For All? after I was admonished for making one of my co-workers feel ?uncomfortable? in the workplace. The point of the article was to argue that university speech codes are responsible for a dangerous trend on college campuses whereby the actual constitutional right of free speech is being trumped by the perceived constitutional ?right to feel comfortable.?
The response to my article has been simply overwhelming. In fact, I have received more email about that article than any I have ever written. Scores of readers have written with disturbing stories explaining how they had been admonished for making someone else feel ?uncomfortable.? Sadly, most of the incidents took place at public universities where freedom of speech is supposed to be sacred.
After I wrote that article, I was asked to give a speech at UNC-Chapel Hill on April 19th. When I arrived for my speech, the campus was already buzzing with talk about speech codes. Specifically, the Committee for a Queerer Carolina (no, I am not making this up) held a protest that day because they feared that the concept of ?hate speech? was being used to silence a faculty member who is also a campus gay activist.
Those who regularly read my column remember that controversy, which began when an English instructor attacked a conservative Christian student in an email (sent to all of his classmates) for his moral opposition to homosexuality. Specifically, she labeled his constitutionally protected speech as ?hate speech? and a form of ?violence.? Now, after attacking the student, the instructor is being investigated by the Office of Civil Rights for engaging in ?hate speech? herself. The reaction of the Committee for a Queerer Carolina?s Christina Delane really says it all:
?We feel like it (the investigation) is threatening every policy on campus. The federal investigators are breaking down our entire system.?
Christina just reiterated my three main points concerning campus speech codes. First, speech codes are the underpinning of the campus diversity movement. Second, speech codes were designed to censor conservative speech only. Third, once in place, speech codes are a threat to everyone (including liberals).
But, of course, campus liberals like Christina don?t see the big picture. They just want the feds to call off this particular investigation of a like-minded activist. They are not interested in abolishing a campus speech code that might come in handy for them at some point in the future.