The First Amendment and Criminalized Speech on Campus

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Something just isn’t adding up with reports about a “racial incident” at Bryant University:

On Super Bowl Sunday, Quinton Law walked past a party in a townhouse on the Bryant University campus, and a young woman screamed at him:

She said five words: “I f—ing hate these n—–s.”

He answered: “That’s racist as hell.”

Her response: “I don’t care if I sound racist.” At least, that’s what he posted the next day on Facebook. When he quoted her over the phone last week, the sentence was more like she didn’t give a (vulgarity) if she sounded racist.

Since then, the reports appear to be that people living in the townhouse have received threats and the university asked Law to take the post down.  On one hand, the university found that “a bias incident” had occurred, but on the other hand, somebody apparently advised Law to find a lawyer in case the woman’s housemates sue him.

Given the contrast with how one would expect this story to go, there’s clearly not enough information available to the public in order to make any judgment about the substance.  One thing remains interesting, though, in a particular statement from Law:

“This is past racism,” he said. It is a First Amendment violation of free speech, he said.

And yet, here’s the characterization of how the “bias incident” was handled, per a statement from Bryant:

The University has an established process for responding to bias incidents and this process was followed. The University immediately opened a thorough investigation of the alleged bias incident which included interviews with multiple students and a review of security camera footage. The Bryant University Bias Incident Committee reviewed the results of the investigation and concluded that a bias incident had occurred.

This official and comprehensive investigation was conducted over something that a student said.  The “incident” was that “a Bryant student stated a racial epithet in a public setting.”

Quinton Law isn’t to blame for the state of affairs on American campuses, and again, something seems odd about how this story has played out.  Still, one can’t help but wonder whether it is the initial attempt to criminalize speech as “bias incidents” that creates this strange environment.

 

Featured image: A statue that was the subject of an episode of Last Impressions, regarding how we see and respond to racial issues.



  • Rhett Hardwick

    On Super Bowl Sunday, Quinton Law walked past a party in a townhouse on the Bryant University campus, and a young woman screamed at him:
    She said five words: “I f—ing hate these n—–s.”

    This seems so unlikely, it begs explanation. Are we to believe that the woman was simply in the mood to scream? Who were ””n—–s” she screamed about? Was she provoked

  • Rhett Hardwick

    “This is past racism,” he said. It is a First Amendment violation of free speech, he said.”

    Many would say that the whole concept of “Hate Speech” is a First Amendment violation. Spend a little time and look at the number of people who went to jail for “speech” under the 1918 “Sedition Act”

    “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”

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