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‘Campus Outrage Awards’ Feature Two FIRE Cases
The Collegiate Network has released their 2007 Campus Outrage Awards, an effort “to shed light on the most outrageous instances of intolerance and intimidation on the part of college officials.” Out of the five awards, two went to schools for their involvement in a FIRE case.
At Johns Hopkins University (JHU), The Carrollton Record (TCR), an independent student paper, ran a cover story entitled “Deepthroating Hopkins,” on the use of student fees to pay for a speech by pornographic film director Chi-Chi La Rue. The JHU administration refused to condemn the theft of 600 copies of the paper, alleging that taking bulk copies of a free publication does not constitute theft, which directly contradicts Maryland state law. The administration then confiscated 300 additional copies, banned TCR from the campus dorms and other locations around campus, and investigated TCR staff for harassment. FIRE intervened and JHU eventually ended their ridiculous investigation.
The College Republicans (CRs) at San Francisco State University (SFSU) organized a campus anti-terrorism protest and stomped on makeshift Hamas and Hezbollah flags. A student filed a formal complaint alleging that the CRs’ protest served to “incite violence and create a hostile environment” and constituted “actions of incivility.” Unbeknownst to the CRs, their makeshift flags contained the Arabic word for “Allah.” The SFSU student government passed a resolution condemning the CRs, and the university undertook an investigation. Possible punishments included a letter of warning or derecognition for the student group. In Texas v. Johnson, the Supreme Court ruled that it is constitutionally protected expression to burn the American flag. Under such a standard it is certainly protected expression to stomp on makeshift flags of nongovernmental organizations. FIRE intervened and SFSU eventually came to its senses and the CRs were acquitted of all charges.
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