FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for December 2006: Johns Hopkins University.
Hopkins’ brand new Principles for Ensuring Equity, Civility and Respect for All prohibit “rude, disrespectful behavior” at the university. This policy virtually necessitates abuse, since it is so broad that it could never be enforced across the board, instead leaving students at the whim of the administration. No university could possibly have the resources to prosecute every instance of rudeness that takes place anywhere on its campus.
This policy also stifles free expression on campus, since much legitimate speech is both rude and disrespectful. Michael Moore, anyone? Bill O’Reilly? Passionate arguments about important issues often get heated, and this is something to be cherished in a free society, not repressed. We also know that Hopkins is willing to put its money where its mouth is as far as censorship is concerned: it has gone after Justin Park with astonishing fervor for the Halloween party invitations he posted on Facebook.com.
For these reasons, Johns Hopkins University is December’s Speech Code of the Month. If you believe that your college or university should be a Speech Code of the Month, please e-mail email@example.com with a link to the policy and a brief description of why you think attention should be drawn to this code.