12 May 2007

No Free Speech at Tufts

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Foundation for Individual Rights in Education story:

Tufts University has found a conservative student publication guilty of harassment and creating a hostile environment for publishing political satire. Despite explicitly promising to protect controversial and offensive expression in its policies, the Tufts Committee on Student Life decided yesterday to punish the student publication The Primary Source (TPS) for printing two articles that offended African-American and Muslim students on campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has spearheaded the defense of TPS, is now launching a public campaign to oppose Tufts’ outrageous actions.

“We now know that Tufts’ promises of free expression are hollow,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “By punishing political expression—the type of expression at the very core of the right to free speech—Tufts has shown that, in spite of its promises, it has no regard for its students’ fundamental rights. Such hypocrisy must not go unchallenged.”

Last December, TPS published a satirical Christmas carol entitled “Oh Come All Ye Black Folk.” Although TPS runs a Christmas carol parody every year, December’s carol sparked controversy on campus because it harshly lampooned race-based admissions. Realizing that the carol offended large portions of the Tufts community, TPS published an apology on December 6, 2006. Four months later, however, a student filed charges alleging that the carol constituted “harassment” and created a “hostile environment.” Other students filed similar charges in response to TPS’ April 11, 2007 piece entitled “Islam—Arabic Translation: Submission,” a satirical advertisement that ridiculed Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week” by highlighting militant Islamic terrorism.

The two complaints were consolidated for a hearing before the university’s Committee on Student Life on April 30, 2007. Yesterday, the Committee issued a decision holding that TPS had violated the university’s harassment policy by publishing the two pieces. The Committee found that the carol “targeted [black students] on the basis of their race, subjected them to ridicule and embarrassment, intimidated them, and had a deleterious impact on their growth and well-being on campus.” The Committee also held that the parody of Islamic Awareness Week “targeted members of the Tufts Muslim community for harassment and embarrassment, and that Muslim students felt psychologically intimidated by the piece.”

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Larry Amitin

As part of a bookdealer family for over 70 years, I am fully aware of American Apathy and the attitude that all things old including books should be thrown out in favor of the new. The internet is no sub for the book. It is just a tool. Selling books online is not the answer, people only buy things that are scarce and rare. Unless you get the right buyer they want it for change. General books in most stores get donated, or in this case burned. America wake up and smell the smoke!



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