University Revokes ‘Hate Speech’ Punishment

November 26, 2003

The president of Gonzaga University has rescinded punishment of the school’s College Republicans club, which was taken to task for posting fliers with the book title “Why the Left Hates America.”

According to a statement from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, university President Robert J. Spitzer made the reversal after receiving a letter from the organization.

“It is a dark day when universities in a free society start banning everyday words. In this context, it is especially bizarre. You can’t very well eradicate ‘hate’ – as some administrators claim they are determined to do – if you can’t even utter the word,” said Greg Lukianoff, director of legal and public advocacy for FIRE. “We are pleased, however, that President Spitzer acted so quickly to undo this bizarre miscarriage of justice.”

The allegedly discriminatory flier advertised a speech by Daniel J. Flynn, author of the book “Why the Left Hates America.” The flier, which Gonzaga had pre-approved, FIRE says, included the title of the book in large letters with the words “left hates” emphasized.

Some members of the Gonzaga community complained about the fliers to administrators, and many were torn down, at least two by school administrators themselves.

“When I saw the poster,” director of student activities David Lindsay told the Gonzaga Bulletin, “I took one down because our publicity policy says that we don’t allow hate speech to be posted around campus.”

Paul Schafer, president of the College Republicans, said, “I never imagined that someone would call the title of a book discriminatory hate speech.”

According to FIRE, Spitzer promised to remove the disciplinary letter from the file of the College Republicans.

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Schools: Gonzaga University Cases: Gonzaga University: Censorship of ‘Hate Speech’