On Feds’ ‘Blueprint,’ ‘Savannah Morning News’ Opinion Is Appropriately Snarky

July 16, 2013

An opinion piece posted on Savannah Morning News’ website Friday laid out some of the ways in which the Departments of Education and Justice’s May 9 “blueprint” letter makes the old problem of overzealous “university campus speech police” even worse.  On the Departments’ definition of sexual harassment as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including speech, the article says:  What constitutes “unwelcome?” Arguably — and the letter provides no assurances to the contrary — just about anything anyone finds offensive.Sexual harassment is a serious issue. But we discourage meaningful action to prevent it when we trivialize the issue.That’s what happens when we try to outlaw any snark-tinged remark with even a tangential tie to a topic of a sexual nature. As Torch readers know, the problems don’t end there: [T]he letter’s “blueprint” condones punishing alleged offenders even before their degree of culpability — if any — has been determined.The University is directed to take “immediate steps to protect the complainant” from further harassment, possibly including “disciplinary action” against the alleged offender prior to adjudication. So much for due process. Of course, no snarky commentary would be complete without this note: Reacting to criticisms of its guidelines, officials in the civil rights office noted lamely that the letter described it as “a blueprint,” not “the blueprint.” Check out this no-nonsense piece at savannahnow.com. Want to know more about the ED/DOJ "blueprint"?  Check out FIRE’s Frequently Asked Questions here!

Cases:  Departments of Education and Justice: National “Blueprint” for Unconstitutional Speech Codes