According to the Massachusetts ACLU, universities must be vigilant in protecting their students from harassment but, in this case, no such harassment occurred. In fact, according to the correct logic of the ACLU, it is possible for the over-policing of harassment to have deleterious effects on academic freedom and free speech generally. In the Brandeis case, free expression was harmed but there was no real harm to racial minorities.
What the ACLU missed in their response was that minorities may, in fact, have been hurt by the incident at Brandeis. A decent man has just been punished for standing up against racism and is, therefore, less likely to do it again in the future. And those who are following the case are learning vicariously that defending minorities is often a thankless and risky undertaking.
The ultimate irony of the Hindley case is that none of the persons claiming to be offended by the term “wetback” were even eligible to be offended. The term “wetback” – as I recall from my upbringing in Texas – is reserved exclusively for illegal aliens. By claiming to be harassed by the term “wetback,” one must simultaneously admit to one’s status as an illegal alien. And, certainly, such an admission would create greater problems (e.g., deportation) for the “offended” than simply being offended.
It is hard to believe that one could entertain seriously the notion that there is some constitutional right to be “un-offended,” which trumps the First Amendment. It is even harder to imagine that illegal aliens have such a right over and above the rights of citizens who are in this country lawfully. But just wait a few years and this will all seem mundane to the average American.
Lately, I’ve been getting so tired of political correctness that I’ve even considered leaving the country. Maybe I’ll make my escape by swimming south across the Rio Grande. And if my shirt doesn’t dry quickly, I’ll just cover my ears and hope for the best.