Well, Yes, But…

By July 25, 2005

The Record, a North Jersey paper, editorialized Friday against William Paterson University’s actions, which of course makes FIRE very happy. But some of the editorial board’s reasoning is quite suspect and deserves addressing here.

First, The Record refers to FIRE as “the national conservative group that’s representing [Jihad Daniel] and that has represented many Christian students claiming discrimination at campuses around the country.” But FIRE is not conservative; it is nonpartisan. Even a cursory glance at FIRE’s case archive reveals that we do not impose any ideological litmus tests when helping students or professors.

Perhaps more troublingly, The Record errs by buying William Paterson’s story that it was okay to treat Jihad as an employee, not a student. Prof. Scala’s e-mail was clearly curricular and he responded to it in his capacity as a William Paterson student. He said this explicitly in the defense Minnie posted earlier. This is not a case of workplace speech; it is, despite The Herald’s protests otherwise, a student free speech issue. No state agent (which William Paterson administrators are, since it is a public school) can tell a student what he ought and ought not to say, and this “employee” business is nothing but an excuse for illegal censorship.

That aside, though, The Record quite rightly points out that “[o]ne e-mail doesn’t constitute harassment.” Funny that a bunch of journalists could figure that one out, but New Jersey’s Columbia Law-educated attorney general couldn’t.

Schools: William Paterson University