I have been meaning to write on the new Obama Administration guidelines to colleges for treating speech as sexual assault and reducing the due process rights of accused students. But George Will does such a great job I am going to let him do it.
Responding to what it considers the University of Montana’s defective handling of complaints about sexual assaults, OCR, in conjunction with the Justice Department, sent the university a letter intended as a “blueprint” for institutions nationwide when handling sexual harassment, too. The letter, sent on May 9, encourages (see below) adoption of speech codes — actually, censorship regimes — to punish students who:
Make “sexual or dirty jokes” that are “unwelcome.” Or disseminate “sexual rumors” (even if true) that are “unwelcome.” Or make “unwelcome” sexual invitations. Or engage in the “unwelcome” circulation or showing of “e-mails or Web sites of a sexual nature.” Or display or distribute “sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials” that are “unwelcome.”
It takes some work to simultaneously violate this many Constitutional protections in one letter, but the Obama Administration continues to demonstrate its heroic determination to ignore that aging document.
By the way, I cannot find any story about a single university President in the whole country who has objected to these rules. What a bunch a spineless conformists we running universities.
A few things I would add to Will's comments:
- I have written about this emerging "right not to be offended" on University campuses for some time. This is the Obama Administration trying to codify this nutty BS "right" into law.
- There is no way in a rule of law where one can have a law where only the opinion of the victim matters in determining culpability. To some extent, the loss of due process rights are almost secondary here -- if it is a crime if the victim says it is (ie they were offended), then what defense can one have, anyway?
- Given that everyone takes offense to something nearly every day, this law would quickly cause everyone to be kicked out of school. The Venn diagram of speech that is offensive either to, say, fundamentalist Christians or Muslims and to radical feminists would encompass essentially all of speech related to sex. Since everyone will not be kicked out of school, the rules will almost certainly be enforced disparately, likely punishing speech with which the university administration disagrees but being far less aggressive in pursuing "unwanted" sexual speech with which it might disagree.