Tuesday, November 19, 2002

--------here is an interesting editorial for you all to read!
tis wild: in the name of "equaility" and "no offense given to anyone"....no one can be "different"!
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The First Amendment, but only for some
The Virginian-Pilot
© November 13, 2002
Last updated: 8:43 PM

Taking offense has replaced baseball as America's pastime.

Consider the following:

In a recent column, I suggested that if the Chechen hostage situation had happened here, authorities would have bombarded the
terrorists with rap music for two weeks before hatching a plan. This prompted a call from a reader who said I was trying to
send a ``racially coded'' message.

A piece on aging American war protesters in Baghdad, who refer to themselves as ``grandpas and grandmas,'' led to e-mails
from Orwellian thought-police types decrying discrimination against the elderly. And a column applauding the Sacagawea dollar
coin's demise provoked an illogical screed on prejudice against American Indians.

These ridiculous leaps of logic, short memories and hypocrisy are the purview of a repressive political correctness gone horribly
wrong. Obviously the caller on Chechnya had forgotten the musical bombardments of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noreiga
and Waco cult leader David Koresh. If I had suggested a Rossini opera instead, would my message have been anti-Italian?

Aside from the fact that I don't like rap music -- I have a right to such outrageous behavior last time I checked -- and that rap
at full volume would make me relent hastily, to suggest that certain music belongs to only one group reinforces stereotypes. And
referring to someone in his 60s as ``aging'' or pointing out that a coin is costing millions in taxpayer money shouldn't rankle,
unless you are a taxpayer.

Why is America now home to this culture of offense?

We have gone from a land of free speech and tolerance to one where ethnic-, race-, age-, gender- and other
umbrage-mongers scan the papers daily in hopes of finding perceived insults to scream about. They have to: Offense is the
bread and butter of non-profit ``advocacy'' groups, who raise more money the louder they yell.

But to find America's ``offense training grounds,'' look no further than our college campuses, where students are encouraged to
believe that if anything offends them, their rights have automatically been violated. Free speech is in serious trouble and higher
education, with its stultifying rules and codes, is a major culprit.

This problem can be laid four-square at the feet of the self-indulgent baby boomer generation that now runs America's
universities.

Ironically, those who marched for free speech now enforce speech codes on others. The vanguard of smoking weed and
dropping acid now prohibits kegs of beer. And their embrace of Marcusian theory -- which holds that in order to advance the
rights of certain people, the rights of others must be taken away -- is ``a generational swindle of epic proportions,'' says Thor
Halvorssen of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

So much for academic freedom.

FIRE, bless them, has chronicled in great detail the erosion of free speech on campuses, two-thirds of which have speech
codes. The Philadelphia-based group, which spans the political spectrum, often finds itself championing conservative causes
that left-wing bigots find threatening.

Several examples: The student bar association at the Washington University School of Law in Missouri twice denied
recognition of a pro-life student group, citing ``the narrowness of your group's interests and goals'' as a reason. The decision
was recently overturned.

This spring, an instructor teaching a course on Palestinian resistance at the University of California at Berkeley warned
``conservative thinkers'' to take another class because ``the right of Palestinian . . . self-determination is not up for debate.''

At Central Michigan University last year, dorm supervisors made a student remove ``offensive decorations'' from his door, lest
he upset others. The hateful objects? An American flag, an eagle and a newspaper editorial.

Students against the war on terrorism were granted a permit to protest at the University of Massachusetts, but students who
wanted to support U.S. policy were denied one. And a Johns Hopkins University professor who publicly supported aggression
against terrorist-sheltering states was accused of assisting a hate crime against Muslims and yanked from his post.

Have we really become this weak?

Rather than learning the fine art of discourse and rebuttal, or even how to dish out stone cold contempt, students are infantilized.
They are taught to believe that opposing views should be shut down entirely. They morph into adults who see rights as a
zero-sum game. And that's more of a threat to our liberty than Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein combined.

Bronwyn Lance Chester is an editorial writer for The Virginian-Pilot.

Reach her at 446-2307 or e-mail her at bchester@pilotonline.com.

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