By Harold Brackman at Jewish Journal
According to the campus free speech lobby FIRE (Foundation For Individual Rights in Education), Thaddeus Pryor has been suspended by Colorado College for two years—also banned from stepping foot on campus or attending another college—for admitting to sending an anonymous Yik Yak reply to“#blackwomenmatter”: “They matter, they’re just not hot.”
I presume Pryor is white—or at least not African American.
Colorado College is a private college, which means that it’s is not legally bound by the First Amendment, but whose Student Guide nevertheless states that “all members of the college community have such basic rights as freedom of speech.” Apparently this pious invocation is Trumped (forgive me by the capital “T”) by the provision or its Abusive Behavior Code banning any act “which produces ridicule, embarrassment, harassment, intimidation or other such result.”
I have a number of questions:
• If the First Amendment is still operative, should it be extended to private college campuses?
• There is no capital punishment is Colorado, but if there were, should it be extended to immature and foolish remarks mentioning race by college students? This might be more merciful than what Colorado College did to Pryor.
• Would Pryor have been suspended for remarking: “They matter, they’re just hot.” Or would he face the same punishment for suggesting that black women were “hot,” but had no other admirable qualities?
• What about if he had remarked about black women: “They matter, they’re hot.” Would the omission of “just” have saved him from punishment or would be still be guilty of sexism?
• What if he were a Muslim student and cited the Quran in English translation to similar effect? To judge from the current controversy over a new politically correct translation, he still might have been guilty for quoting an earlier, unpolitically correct translation.
• How about if he had remarked: “They matter, and they’re hot—but I’m gay”? This might have saved him since being “gay” is protected and calling them “hot” obviously could not have been meant sexually—or maliciously—by a gay student.
Finally, what if Pryor had commented gratuitously that “Jewish women are hotter—but only believe in sex before marriage”? In that case, would be being gay have saved him, or would he have been still guilty of privileging marriage over premarital sex, or making invidious racial comparisons, or would he instead have been sentenced to the lesser punishment of exile to a more friendly galaxy far, far away?
As to my personal predilections, I am a First Amendment fan who does not believe in Pryor restraint.