The indispensable FIRE—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education—bestows a regular mock honor on some offending college or university: the Speech Code of the Month. So far this year, the winners have included New York University (which bans, among other things, inappropriate jokes and teasing), the University of Idaho (no “insensitive” actions or communications), Northern Illinois University (no annoying or embarrassing anyone through “intentional and wrongful use of words, gestures and actions”), Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (no “demeaning depictions” of anyone—signing up to be an editorial cartoonist there may be as risky as in Denmark) Rhode Island College (for the thought-control policy that forbids racially-based “attitudes”), and San Jose State University (no “publicly telling offensive jokes”).Three institutions on this year’s list—SUNY Buffalo, Idaho and James Madison University—have revised their speech/harassment policies in response to FIRE’s criticism.
Thanks, John! And, yes, sadly, our nations’ colleges and universities have kept us neck-deep in unconstitutional codes for the past ten years – and have provided us with a crazy Speech Code of the Month every month for over four years now! Here’s hoping that Correcting Common Mistakes will help lower those numbers.
After all, given that every single “red light” speech code that has been challenged in court has either been repealed or invalidated in court, maybe it is time campus administrators revisit those codes. And for those of you who want to help us win the battle against speech codes the easiest way to do your part is to put up our “Speech Code of the Month” widget.