A Perfect University Response To Offensive Student Speech
Malachi Randolph, the President of the Student Government Association at Ball State, emitted an obnoxious series of tweets about "Chinese people."
Randolph found himself at the center of a swift shitstorm and resigned his position. He also apologized, saying his tweets about "Stereotypical Chinese" were out of frustration towards one person and not general prejudice. Okay.
What's somewhat remarkable is the response of the Ball Sate administration:
The university will not be taking any disciplinary action regarding Randolph.
“His remarks are not a violation of any university policy or law,” said Tony Proudfoot, a university spokesperson. “He is likely to find, however, that such remarks do have unintended social consequences beyond formal actions from the university.”
Exactly. Randolf's tweets were offensive and obnoxious. It is right and fit that they have social consequences. Those social consequences represent the free speech and free association of his peers. But they were not legally actionable. They were not true threats. They were not sufficiently pervasive to create a hostile environment for discrimination law purposes. They were protected by the First Amendment. It's pitch-perfect for the administration to note that such dipshittery is not punished by the university, but addressed by the marketplace of ideas.
In a country where colleges and universities ban protest signs and threaten discipline over Firefly quotes and enact vague and unprincipled "cyberbullying" codes, it's refreshing to see a university get it right.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Happy To Be Here - May 21st, 2015
- How To Spot And Critique Censorship Tropes In The Media's Coverage Of Free Speech Controversies - May 19th, 2015
- Lawsplainer: The Proposed Federal Anti-SLAPP Act: What It Would Do, Why It's Important - May 18th, 2015
- Ville de Granby Takes The Lead In Protecting Endangered Official Feels - May 7th, 2015
- Two Stories About The Criminal Justice System And Consequences - May 6th, 2015