Category: In The News

Campus Speech Wars: Waving the Tacky Shirt

Insight Article By Richard Miniter January 24, 1994

Summary: In the mid-1980s, collegians suddenly had to worry about being “politically correct:’ Since then, this ideal has wrapped its tentacles around campus debate, smothering free speech in the name of sensitivity. Now someone’s fighting back.

In 1991, Rep. Henry Hyde, an Il­linois Republican, sponsored leg­islation that would have made it easier for students at both public and private colleges to sue over First Amendment issues. The bill was in­tended to help students who felt their right to free speech had been stifled by “PC” crusaders – liberal activists who have managed to make “political correctness” the most pressing issue on American campuses. But Hyde could find only 25 cosponsors and the bill languished. The “PC backlash” went nowhere.
Indeed, since the PC wars began in the mid-1980s with skirmishes on the canon – should Plato or Sappho be required reading – college ad­ministrators have become hypersen­sitive to the needs of women and mi­norities. Perhaps as a consequence, arguments over what should be taught in the classroom have given way to acrimonious debate on civility – how to make students get along on campus.
Pressured by vocal groups espous­ing multiculturalism, both public and private universities have adopted speech codes directed at students and faculty. Intended at first to cur­tail incidents of “hate speech;’ usu­ally racial slurs, such codes have been extended to regulate all aspects of campus life – students have been asked to remove Confederate flags from their dorm rooms and forbidden from talking with outside journalists without permission.
Howard takes on speech codes.

Read more…

Sombrero Scrap

The Washington Post by Nat Hentoff January 1, 1994

At the Riverside campus of the University of California, a fraternity recently created and distributed a T-shirt that has unexpectedly made First Amendment history.

On the shirt is a drawing of a man watching the sunset. He is wearing a serape and a sombrero and holds a bottle. Also shown is a bare-chested man with a six-pack of beer in one hand and a bottle ·in the other. At the front of the drawing is a bar, Papas & Beer, much frequented by America.n college students crossing the border.

An inscription circling the drawing was taken from an anti-racist song by Bob Marley: “It doesn’t matter where you come from, as long as you know where you are going.”

Demanding that the fraternity, Phi Kappa Sigma, be punished was MEChA (the Movimienlo Estudiantil Chicano de Azllan). A spokesman charged that the shirt “dehumanizes- and promotes racist views of-Mexican people.” Not only was the shirt impermissibly offensive but, said MEChA, it was the very model of “fighting words” under the university’s code of community values because it could provoke’ violent reaction.
Read more…

Campus Speech Codes Are Being Shot Down As Opponents Pipe Up
A Fraternity Sues and Wins Over a T-Shirt; Alliances Target ‘PC’ Universities

Thought-Cops Get a Lesson

Wall Street Journal Article By SARAH LUBMAN December 22, 1993

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -Is the party over for the “PC” movement -shorthand for “politically correctness” -on college cam­puses?

Growing evidence indicates it just could be. A swelling student backlash, litigious-minded public-interest groups and a rash of unfavorable court decisions are beginning to sweep aside or challenge the movement’s most controversial icons: campus speech codes, and anti-harassment­ policies that sometimes impinge on free-speech rights.

Read more…

Free-speech ‘vigilante’ nemesis of campus PC

The Washington Post by Valerie Richardson March 29, 1993

SAN FRANCISCO –, John Howard had watched it happen many times before. A campus group -· usually a fraternity -runs afoul of the college speech code with a crude song, limerick or chant. Protests follow, the administration is pressured to act, and the group is eventually disciplined, suspended or thrown off campus. This time the group was the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at California State University at Northridge (CSUN). The Greek society had been slapped with a 14-month suspension and was on the brink of losing its charter after posting a flier for a Mexican-theme party “in honor of Lupe; apparently referring to an ob· scene drinking song about a Mexican· can prostitute.
Enter Mr: Howard, San Diego lawyer, constitutional law expert and self-described “First Amendment vigilante.” Working with the Crater· attorney, he filed a lawsuit against the university for damages arising from what he claimed were violations of the Zetas’ right to freedom of speech.

It worked. Earlier this month, the administration agreed to drop the suspension after just two months, despite an outcry from women’s groups and the university’s chapter of the ” Movimiento Estudiuntil Chicano de Aztlan. In return, the fraternity· agreed to apologize publicly and participate in “dispute resolution” seminars.

Read more…

AV Preeminent Award

Judicial Review


Client Champion Award

Client Champion 2020