Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Hate" Crimes Built on a Juvenile Concept of Freedom

The idea that we have a right to be "free" of being offended, or "free" of having our feelings hurt is juvenile...

From "Flailing Against the Wind" by Jim Trageser, posted 12/19/07 at

If you have kids in the Poway Unified School District, you might want to simply assume there will be less money for instruction and classroom supplies in the years to come. Litigation is expensive, you see, and when you have a school board on a collision course with the U.S. Constitution, more litigation would seem pretty unavoidable.

Not that Poway is any stranger to being sued for stomping all over the rights of students who don't think the way the board majority thinks they should. The district has spent who knows how many tens of thousands of dollars (maybe more) defending itself in an ongoing lawsuit that arose when officials punished a student for wearing a T-shirt that read "Homosexuality is shameful."

Tyler Chase Harper wore that T-shirt in response to a pro-gay rights event at Poway High School, and was told to remove the shirt. He refused, and was ultimately suspended. The conservative Alliance Defense Fund and liberal American Civil Liberties Union are both asking the courts to overturn the suspension (although Harper is now long since graduated) as a violation of Harper's free speech rights and, presumably, to keep the district from behaving similarly in the future.

And yet, despite the ongoing lawsuit, which the district stands a good chance of losing, it is now (over)reacting to a spate of swastikas and nooses recently found on the district's campuses -- crafting new policies to crack down on "hate behavior."

Which sounds reasonable, I suppose, if we can all agree on just what constitutes "hate" -- and don't mind getting rid of the First Amendment's free speech clause while we're at it.

Read the rest of this insightful commentary.