Hinds Community College President Upholds 12-Demerit Punishment for Swearing

By May 26, 2010

Apparently, national ridicule on Fox & Friends (video) and MSNBC hasn’t yet stopped Hinds Community College (HCC) in Mississippi from sticking to its unconstitutional policy of punishing students with “demerits” for swearing on campus—even in private conversations outside of class time.

That’s right, HCC threatened student Isaac Rosenbloom with suspension and banned him from one of his classes after his instructor overheard him say privately to another student after class that his grade on an assignment was “going to fuck up my entire GPA.”

Some may wish that public colleges, or even the police, had the power to enforce “civility,” or “courtesy,” or whatever you want to call it when you tell people what you think they should or should not say, but the plain fact is that the First Amendment doesn’t allow it. As the Supreme Court famously stated, “one man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric.” (See also Robert’s recent post on the subject: “Why Does FIRE Care about Swear Words, Anyway?”)

Unfortunately, Rosenbloom recently learned that his final appeal within HCC was denied by President Clyde Muse. Muse’s letter ignores his responsibility to uphold the First Amendment on campus and rejects Rosenbloom’s appeal with reference only to “adequate due process.” Well, the First Amendment applies to HCC through the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process, and Rosenbloom deserves the full protection of both. He has received neither.

Schools: Hinds Community College