Tuscaloosa, Alabama in August of 2006:
Welcome to student orientation at the University of Alabama (UA). We are pleased to have each and every one of you join our university community. As you know, there are a number of programs and events we have scheduled for all incoming freshmen this week. We are going to be busy, so let?s get started.
It is my job, as Director of the Office of Diversity and Civil Discourse, to educate you about our new speech code at UA. Actually, the speech code isn?t new. It has been in effect since last August, but now that we have an entire year of experience implementing our new, well, almost new speech code, we can better explain what it means to you the student at UA. Turn in your diversity bulletin to page one and read along with me:
?University officials in charge of student programming must develop clear policies restricting any behavior that demeans or reduces an individual based on group affiliation or personal traits, or which promotes hate or discrimination, in any approved University program or activity. These policies must be incorporated into any contract entered into by the University regarding participation in formal University programs or activities.?
Since this policy was enacted by the UA Faculty Senate, it has been determined that your decision to attend UA provides one example of the type of contract meant to be regulated by the policy we just read together. Your respective majors are all examples of formal university programs and activities in need of regulation. Before we go on, are there any questions?
Q: I understand that these policies were originally intended to make UA a more open and welcoming university community. Why has enrollment dropped significantly over the last two years?
A: Well, I don?t know. I am sure that the admissions counselors can explain that later.
Q: Doesn?t the policy we just read seem overly broad and vague? Is there any chance that it will be struck down as unconstitutional?
A: Well, you aren?t in a position to make that judgment as an incoming freshman. We in the administration at UA consider the United States Constitution to be a living, breathing document, subject to various interpretations.
Q: Yes, but are there any cases where such a speech code survived constitutional scrutiny?
A: You will have to ask someone at the law school about that. I suspect that your attitude will change after the university implements its three-hour mandatory diversity training seminar next fall.
Q: But didn?t UA try to implement a similar program in 2002? And weren?t they forced to back off after university officials entered into a conspiracy meant to silence those who opposed the sensitivity training programs? In fact, one of the faculty members who tried to interfere with the rights of those seeking to ?petition the Government for a redress of grievances? was actually on the law school faculty at UA. How could a law professor be so ignorant of the United States Constitution?
A: Let?s let someone else speak.
Q: I have a question. Is it true that the university is planning to start a new major called ?Queer Studies??
A: You may not use that term, sir. Only queers can use that term at UA. Unless you are gay, you need to watch your mouth. The speech code takes effect immediately after orientation is over.
Q: But isn?t all of this nonsense about speech codes driven by the gay rights lobby?
A: Watch your mouth, son.
Q: Why? I said ?gay? this time, not ?queer.?
A: It was the tone you used. And, by the way, you just said ?queer? again.
Q: Well, didn?t you?
A: Yes, but I am gay.
Q: Why should I care about your sexual orientation? I?m here for freshman orientation.
A: That was disrespectful. It was also demeaning and I felt that it reduced me as an individual. Do not say anything like that after this session is over. Next question, please.
Q: Could you tell me about your policy on flags?
A: Don?t you dare use the term ?fags? in my presence!
Q: No, I said flags. Wasn?t there a controversy on the display of flags at UA in 2003?
A: Yes, there was a student who offended many others with his display of a Confederate flag in the window of his dorm. The university initially banned all flags from dorm windows.
Q: And didn?t a bunch of UA students teach the administration a lesson about free speech by posting scores of American flags in dorm windows all across campus?
A: Well, yes, I suppose they did. And I guess it was for the best. Otherwise, gay students would not be able to post their rainbow fags on Coming Out Day, which is on October 11th, by the way.
Q: Didn?t you mean to say ?flags,? not ?fags??
A: Watch your mouth! Next question, please. Yes, you in the corner.
Q: Isn?t it true that in 2004 the UA administration attempted to immunize itself from criticism by discriminating against a faculty group that opposed various ?diversity initiatives? on campus? Didn?t they shame themselves after they were caught trying to charge the group eight times the normal fee paid by other faculty organizations for use of the university?s mail system?
A: Well, yes, but they justified the difference by noting that the group was not a recognized faculty group.
Q: But wasn?t it later revealed that UA administrators lied about that distinction? There really was no method in place for recognizing faculty groups at the time they made that claim. Wasn?t the administration?s behavior an example of ?behavior that demeans or reduces an individual based on group affiliation or personal traits.? Didn?t it have the effect of promoting ?hate or discrimination? against those who oppose the diversity movement? Didn?t it chill free speech for anyone who would dare challenge the administration on matters of public interest?
A: Next question, please.
Q: Is it too late to enroll at Auburn?
A: That was uncalled for. But, fortunately, I don?t think it qualifies as hate speech.