Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Hate Speech Code 1993 at Ohio State

The Office of Legal Affairs had prepared a draft of a proposed addition to the Code of Student Conduct which appeared in the student newspaper, The Lantern (year 113, no.2).  The policy was drafted by Robert M. Duncan, Chief Legal Council and Vice President, and the article included comments by various professors who thought it was illegal. I added my 2 cents in a letter to Duncan, with a copy to President Gee on June 24, 1993, which I just found today while cleaning out files. I had a few suggestions for additions to the hate speech code:

“For instance: I’m awfully tired of constantly hearing “shit” and “fuck” used as verbs, adjectives, and nouns in place of something more descriptive and meaningful.  I’m particularly offended when they appear 2 or 3 times in an ordinary sentence, and frightened when they are even more frequent.  This creates a very hostile and intimidating environment for females, even though there are a few females who also use these terms (usually to try to sound tough).  So if you get this “hate” thing passed, please add these terms to the list, and make it retroactive so that any man who has used them, say in the past five years, will be appropriately sanctioned, or even fired.

Then as a Christian, my cultural religious group, I’m deeply offended by the constant use of “Jesus Christ” as an expletive.  If you are going to protect other groups from hate words, there is nothing I find more hateful than that, and I’d like not to have to hear it.  While we’re on the subject, I don’t want my religion ridiculed any longer in the classroom or in the arts or in graduation speeches.  This creates an intimidating and hostile environment for learning for at least 40-50% of your students.

Certain words in English slang have been reclaimed for everyday use—for instance, “bitch” has recently been reclaimed as a positive word for women according to one woman author; “nigger” is now part of the name of a rock group who is making big money; “queer” has become part of the official name of a homosexual rights group.  The “hate” terms in this code will need to be very flexible—maybe you should pencil them in?

Behavior that use to be considered hostile or harassing, like crotch grabbing, is now making millions for Madonna and Michael Jackson, so that can’t be too serious anymore.  Alcoholism, obesity, and other health problems have many pejorative terms associated with the, such as “fatty,” “lardo,” “boozer,” and “klutz,” so can you also write those in?  I will be 54 on my next birthday, so let’s cut out anything disparaging about gray hair, wrinkles, or forgetfulness.

Implementing shouldn’t be a problem.  By the time the code is enforced, there won’t be anyone left on campus to be insulted.”

So that was 25 years ago, and political correctness was in full swing then or I wouldn’t have written a tongue in cheek letter about the silliness of it.  And it’s much worse now.

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