Ignorance protected by First Ammendment

In March 2015, CNN reported:

      NORMAN, Oklahoma Two University of Oklahoma students were expelled today for their alleged “leadership role” in a racist chant by Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members, a decision that President David Boren says speaks to his school’s “zero tolerance” policy for such “threatening racist behavior.”

      The expulsions come days after the video surfaced and hours before the midnight Tuesday deadline that SAE members were given to pack their bags and get out of their house.

The frat boys were videotaped on a charter bus singing to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” and I quote:

      There will never be a n—– SAE,
      there will never be a n—– SAE.
      You can hang him from a tree,
      but he’ll never sign with me
      there will never be a n—– SAE.

It’s racist! It’s offensive! It’s ignorant!

But here’s what I believe is the problem. Our country was built on the premise that every citizen with a soap box—or a computer—has an inalienable right to express his or her opinions freely. And so, conspiracy theorists, right- and left-wing radicals, racists of all colors, and even humor columnists are allowed to share their view in the media, Internet sites and local watering holes. And equally important [cue the “Star Spangled Banner”] Americans have the right to accept or to peacefully challenge those racist, vile, ignorant, offensive and absolutely sinful views.

Yes, punish to the full extent of law any person who physically harms or overtly threatens another person. (It does not appear that there were any blacks on the bus, and would not have been threatened, until it went viral on YouTube.)

It’s protected by the First Amendment of the United States constitution

So, don’t punish them for their words no matter how much you and I may disagree with them. (And I do disagree with this recent bus trip to Moron Mountain!) To immediately expel them and force them out of their dormitory without any due process feels too much like 1984‘s thought police! In fact, the surviving Boston Marathon bomber now on trial is being afforded more legal protections than these college students! Criminalizing thought and the free expression of it is a dangerous precedent!

That’s why our country was founded with the goal of majority rule with minority rights. Let’s do everything in our power to eliminate racism, sexism, class-ism and other sinful actions, while at the same time protecting the First Amendment protection of words that we may find offensive.

Some day your or my ideas and beliefs may be targeted and then criminalized by lawmakers who choose to ignore the prohibition against “impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

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