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Joanne Jacobs - a clear eye on education and educators

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In Joanne Jacobs’ most excellent blog, she brings up an interesting story of the boomerang effect of “hate speech” accusations.

A professor who accused a student of “hate speech” violated his civil rights, says a federal ruling. The Washington Times reports:

An English professor at the University of North Carolina illegally subjected a student to “intentional discrimination and harassment” because he was “a white, heterosexual Christian male” who expressed disapproval of homosexuality, the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights has ruled.

Professor Elyse Crystall violated student Timothy R. Mertes’ civil rights, the agency said, by improperly accusing him of “hate speech” in an e-mail sent to students after a class discussion in which Mr. Mertes said he was a Christian and felt “disgusted, not threatened” by homosexual behavior.

I’m not a fan of harassment law, and I get nervous when the feds tell professors or students not to express their opinions, whatever those opinions might be. However, Crystall would have been on firmer ground if she’d challenged the student’s comments in class, and given him a chance to respond. She got in trouble for characterizing him as a bigot in an e-mail she sent to students later.

No federal action will be taken because the professor already has apologized, and the university has told faculty not to discriminate against white, Christian males.

However, UNC administrators are trying to shut down a male Christian fraternity on the Chapel Hill campus “on the grounds the student group is violating the university’s anti-discrimination policy because it excludes non-Christians and self-professed homosexuals from membership,” the Times reports.

In Canada, Bill C-250 (2003) extended legislation to protect gays and lesbians from hate speech.  Opponents of the bill argued the legislation would hinder free speech. The Canadian Christian College took out newspaper ads across the country warning passages of the Bible could be criminalized. Others argued that people could be prosecuted for holding opinions critical of sexual minorities based on their religious beliefs.

BILL C-250:
1. Subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code is replaced by the following:
 
Definition of “identifiable group”
(4) In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.
 
2. Paragraph 319(3)(b) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;

Soon we’ll need laws protecting us from people who breathlessly claim “hate speech!” at every opportunity.  It’s equally insidious.

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