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Joking banned at OSU

In the interest of forcing diversity down students' throats, Ohio State University has banned jokes, in a slightly chilling "Diversity Statement":

Diversity is a cornerstone of community at The Ohio State University. The Office of University Housing defines the concept as an inclusive mixture of all the differences that make the individuals at The Ohio State University unique. Through exposure, critical thinking, appreciation and interactions within our residence halls and larger university communities our goal is to empower students, staff, faculty and friends. In this, we attempt to learn from the wide array of human similarities and differences in an increasingly diverse world.

Our goals are to:

  • Increase sensitivity to differences through exposure, dialogue, and personal reflection
  • Address thoughtlessness that may limit our efforts
  • Maintain a talented and qualified staff with a commitment and conviction toward diversity.

    One of the most important components of your college education is learning to respect and appreciate the lifestyles, values, ideas, cultures, and backgrounds of others you encounter. The residence hall communities at The Ohio State University are rich in the diversity of the communities. As a student in our community, you are asked to be respectful of these differences:

  • Do not joke about differences related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, ability,
    socioeconomic background, etc.
  • Do not use obscene words or gestures. Oftentimes these are unwelcome and offensive to students in your community.
  • Listen to other students living in your floor community. If a person indicates that a behavior or action is offensive, you should stop the behavior immediately.
  • Actively challenge the stereotypes you have of others. Use your time to consider the new experiences you are having at The Ohio State University, instead of relying upon the past evaluations you have had of others.
  • When in doubt about the impact of your words or actions, simply ask.

    It is the responsibility of any student in the residence halls to report incidents of racial or other discrimination or harassment to residence hall staff.


  • See, diversity and tolerance are the most important things in the world, even if it means stifling First Amendment rights!

    For this, FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has just awarded OSU the Speech Code of the Month:

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for September 2007: The Ohio State University.

    The Office of University Housing at Ohio State, a public university, maintains a Diversity Statement that severely restricts what students in Ohio State's residence halls can and cannot say.

    The Diversity Statement also contains another, quite cryptic, prohibition: "Words, actions, and behaviors that inflict or threaten infliction of bodily or emotional harm, whether done intentionally or with reckless disregard, are not permitted." Could anyone at Ohio State actually explain what this prohibition means? How exactly does one threaten to inflict emotional harm? Would that mean shouting, "Hey you! Get out of here or I'm going to hurt your feelings..."? The problem with a prohibition like this one is that it is unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court has held that to avoid vagueness, a regulation must "give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited, so that he may act accordingly." Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104, 108 (1972). It is safe to say that no reasonable person can figure out exactly what this sentence prohibits.

    For these reasons, The Ohio State University is our September 2007 Speech Code of the Month.


    So, out of curiosity, how does one know when a joke is considered hurtful? Are blonde jokes out? Are all those great Gators vs. Buckeyes videos gone? This gives plenty of students license to point the finger at someone for whatever they want; but when someone can get in trouble for saying something "hurtful", there's too much doubt that can come into play. It becomes a he said-she said situation. Unless students are forced to carry around recording devices 24 hours a day, how can you really prove someone was making a -- gasp! -- offensive joke? And what if someone misinterprets a phrase or a joke? And what will the punishment be for making said offensive jokes?

    Here's an even bigger question: where is that bastion of free speech, the ACLU? My guess is they're probably agreeing with OSU on this one. After all, it's done in the name of tolerance and diversity, so it's perfectly fine to trample on the free speech rights of OSU students.

    I'm sure that OSU administrators have good intentions. I doubt they're sitting in their offices, cackling that they're going to make 1984 a reality. But all the same... the road to hell is still paved with good intentions.

    Hat Tip: Moonbattery


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    Comments (46)

    Cassey, I'm offended you ev... (Below threshold)
    Metprof:

    Cassey, I'm offended you even wrote this piece. My attorney will be in touch.

    How do you get an OSU cheer... (Below threshold)
    VagaBond:

    How do you get an OSU cheerleader in your dorm room?

    Grease her hips and push?</... (Below threshold)

    Grease her hips and push?

    A predictable academic resp... (Below threshold)
    kim:

    A predictable academic response given the recent findings about diversity being a social chill.
    =========================================

    Does this mean no more poor... (Below threshold)
    Bill Clinton:

    Does this mean no more poor fat muslim trans-gendered quadriplegic queer cigar jokes?

    Good glavin! Did anyone re... (Below threshold)
    yo:

    Good glavin! Did anyone read the entire PDF?

    "Hate related postings or other items that" and get THIS: "may be insensitive to the RICHNESS of Ohio State's DIVERSITY are strongly discouraged in the in the public community areas."

    Who writes that shit?

    If anything, I'm offended that whomever edited this wasn't sensitive enough to know that "public community" is offensive in its redundancy.

    The pussification of America cannot move forward unless we de-nut every 18 year old that waddles off to college.

    I'm ashamed of OSU. Seriously ... this and only beating Akron by 18 points? WTF?

    Reiterates the point...Libe... (Below threshold)
    Steve of Norway:

    Reiterates the point...Liberals like to *control* people.

    As long as I can call Afgha... (Below threshold)
    Gringo:

    As long as I can call Afghanistan on my cell phone, all these other right infringements are okay.

    I'm assuming students won't... (Below threshold)

    I'm assuming students won't be allowed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or iPods either, right? After all, the content could be offensive to somebody.

    Actually, the unstated gig ... (Below threshold)
    yo:

    Actually, the unstated gig is that all of tis is true policy -- unless the Young Republicans are involved. In which case, they're fair game.

    I thought emo was on the wa... (Below threshold)

    I thought emo was on the way out. I guess not.

    I notice that there are no ... (Below threshold)
    Rance:

    I notice that there are no penalties outlined in the document.

    I also see that "...your Resident Advisor can intervene and will know how to assist, even with the most complex situations."

    Yeah, right.

    Boy, it's going to be hard ... (Below threshold)
    Roy:

    Boy, it's going to be hard to follow this code and also implement sharia, when the bearded folk with the bigger cajones move to OSU and assume control. I guess a knife to the throat could be considered a threatening gesture.

    Is there any way to get foo... (Below threshold)
    markm:

    Is there any way to get football banned at OSU??

    Signed
    Michigan Fan

    "I guess a knife to the thr... (Below threshold)
    yo:

    "I guess a knife to the throat could be considered a threatening gesture."

    ... religious expression.

    Grease her hips and push?</... (Below threshold)

    Grease her hips and push?

    3. Posted by Clancy | September 10, 2007 1:14 PM

    LOL Clancy, beauty.

    I'm assuming students won't... (Below threshold)
    marc:

    I'm assuming students won't be allowed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or iPods either, right? After all, the content could be offensive to somebody.Is it also safe to assume there won't be any hate filled, female degrading, racist rap artists allowed to perform at OSU also.

    Or safer to assume they follow the lead of the idiot administrators at Va Tech.

    Perhaps it is time for Ohio... (Below threshold)

    Perhaps it is time for Ohio State to drop the whole pretense of "education" and devote its considerable resources to what they do best - fielding strong professional sports teams.

    I'm sorry if that offends anyone.

    Well, markm, it sounds like... (Below threshold)
    kim:

    Well, markm, it sounds like the football team, everytime it takes the field, violates the policy. I'm sure their resident assistants can handle the problem.
    ========================

    Just tell me that rioting a... (Below threshold)
    pgg:

    Just tell me that rioting and burning couches in the streets are still protected.

    I can handle anything else, but don't take away my sacred right to torch the davenport.

    Jokes are permitted, but on... (Below threshold)
    hermie:

    Jokes are permitted, but only when they are directed towards conservatives, Republicans, the military, Christians, white men, and any other who are not in the 'protected' classes.

    Sofas and couches are fair ... (Below threshold)
    kim:

    Sofas and couches are fair game, but I believe davenports are a protected class. Let me check with my resident assistant.
    ====================================

    Yes, they are a clear minor... (Below threshold)
    kim:

    Yes, they are a clear minority. So don't even think about it. We know what is in your head, too, and it's mighty suspicious.
    ===========================

    "Is there any way to get fo... (Below threshold)
    Gmac:

    "Is there any way to get football banned at OSU??"

    Signed
    Michigan Fan

    Let them keep on playing teams your average HS team could thrash.

    "Perhaps it is time for Ohio State to drop the whole pretense of "education" and devote its considerable resources to what they do best - fielding strong professional sports teams."

    I'm sorry if that offends anyone.
    Posted by Jim Addison

    Jim, if thats what they do best they should seriously consider closing the school because they suck at that to.

    Gator Nation

    FWIW, having a PC speech code that inhibits free speech based on the fact that somebody is going to be offended is going to create a very quiet campus. You can see that this policy is going to be quietly amended as more information about it becomes more widely diseminated.

    Dont those university jerks... (Below threshold)
    spurwing plover:

    Dont those university jerks beleive in the constitution? i mean this sesitivity stuff is getting plain stupid but then the OSU officials must be stupid brainless liberal jerks

    wonder if this speech code ... (Below threshold)
    yo:

    wonder if this speech code also applies to the anti-war kiddies, too?

    > If a person indicates... (Below threshold)
    Arthur:

    > If a person indicates that a behavior or action is offensive, you should stop the behavior immediately.

    When we play poker, Jody keeps calling my bluffs. Not only does this cost me money, it hurts my feelings when my worthless hand is exposed. I demand that Jody fold when I raise.

    My husband tells me the bes... (Below threshold)

    My husband tells me the best blond jokes he hears.

    I haven't gotten him back for that yet, but I'm female, I can hold a grudge forever, and viking...

    Well, Synova, you have a tr... (Below threshold)
    kim:

    Well, Synova, you have a trove. The best blonde jokes are the best jokes from all of humour simply retold in the only politically correct idiom, named in your honor, of course.
    =====================================

    My wife, who is a bl... (Below threshold)

    My wife, who is a blonde, tells me all the current good blonde jokes.

    The Ghost of Antiochs Past.... (Below threshold)
    kim:

    The Ghost of Antiochs Past.
    ===========================

    Well, as a liberal, I can a... (Below threshold)
    RB:

    Well, as a liberal, I can assure you that I find political correctness as irritating as the next man. I think the best way to describe this is a well intentioned mess. Isn't the definition of free speech to defend another person's right to be obnoxious?

    Of course, this type of woolly pseudo-sensitivity is so common nowadays as to be overlooked, but it asks an interesting question. Where does free speech stop? How offensive does it have to be before restrictions need to be placed on it? After all, hate speech is not a guaranteed right. What rights to artists have to place crucifixes in urine? Or brain dead Hollywood starlets to tell Jesus to "shove it"?

    What I would be interested in hearing is how consistently and how often these rules are applied. How on earth do you intend to stop young men and women making inappropriate comments? Thought control? Maybe these are just there so that should a student go to the university board and complain about being victimized, the board can say "We don't endorse that kind of thing. Look, it's right here, in black and white."

    So I'm not a fan of this. It strikes me as a quick fix and a way of the university legally covering themselves. It doesn't address any of the issues at all.

    markm/Michigan fan... (Below threshold)
    La Mano:

    markm/Michigan fan

    at least they PLAY football at OSU.

    Not very well .... but they play.

    no offense, of course.

    This rule has potential....... (Below threshold)
    Scott:

    This rule has potential.....
    Listen to other students living in your floor community. If a person indicates that a behavior or action is offensive, you should stop the behavior immediately.

    We need to just get ahead of the game and let them know that we feel that PC behavior is offensive.

    What do you expect from the... (Below threshold)
    Scrapiron:

    What do you expect from the communist propaganda spewing leaders of the colleges of today. Restriction of speach is the first step of communism, next will be a ban on assembly unless it's school sponsored. Young people today are so stupid they buy right into this junk instead of telling the idiots running the school to kiss it. Why stay at a school like this? There is no education and a degree is worth less than the ink used to print it. That could be why other countries are pulling ahead of the U.S. in every area of development.

    This is, unfortunately, the... (Below threshold)

    This is, unfortunately, the result of both infantalizing young people and the eschewing of religious values.

    Notice as religion plays an ever smaller role in individuals lives, law regulating the minutia of behavior has replaced social mores.

    It's part of the "if its legal it must be ok" camp .. the substitution of law for morality as Environment substitutes for religion. It's now a "sin" to have an incandescent bulb and one needs a legal document to spell out how not to be rude to a school peer.

    Insane.

    Everything bad must be proh... (Below threshold)

    Everything bad must be prohibited and everything good must be coerced.

    In other words... Darleen gets the prize. :-)

    External controls actually inhibit the development of internal controls and character. The goal of producing tolerant behavior is harmed by the rules because rules for every last thing enforce the idea that if something is legal, if it is not punished, then it is good and acceptable.

    If we want our young people to develop *character* they need to develop *self* control, not simply conform to control by others.

    The BUCKEYES need some BLAC... (Below threshold)
    spurwing plover:

    The BUCKEYES need some BLACK EYES to those whinny spech code nazis

    "markm/Michigan fan<p... (Below threshold)
    markm:

    "markm/Michigan fan

    at least they PLAY football at OSU.

    Not very well .... but they play.

    no offense, of course."

    Hence the request for them to ban it.

    A smart student group that ... (Below threshold)
    Don_cos:

    A smart student group that wished to show the flaws in this policy could easily swamp the faculty with complaints, using the foul language and gestures portion of the policy.

    My alma mater and a friggin... (Below threshold)
    solorunner:

    My alma mater and a friggin shame. Im fairly confident I wont be writing a check this year.

    I find all feminist studies... (Below threshold)
    RA:

    I find all feminist studies to be offensive so they should immediately shut them all down. When pigs fly. The left can be as offensive as it wishes and they are ALWAYS protected.

    Georgia Tech, my alma mater... (Below threshold)

    Georgia Tech, my alma mater, adopted a campus- (and specifically dorm- ) wide speech code outlawing any form of "hate speech". Unfortunately, while this may sound good on paper to some people, the upshot was that the "hate speech" in question basically boiled down to anything conservative, whereas anything liberal, no matter how demeaning, was permitted. Furthermore, the associated program called "Safe Space" demeaned religions that are against homosexual activities, while simultaneously supporting those that favor it. Finally, the administration was prone to supporting some activities with funds from the Student Activities Fee, but not funding other ones... and guess where the line lay. Further information here: http://www.buzzbrockway.com/?p=525 and the actual complaint filed against GT here: http://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/GeorgiaTechComplaint.pdf .

    Thankfully, this idiotic speech code was struck down, and GT can no longer change it without court approval for the next five years.

    The precedent is already there, and there is hope for OSU... someone just needs to step up to the plate. And do not even get me started on the useless, offensive nature of the ACLU. Thankfully, organizations like the ADF exist to actually support the First Amendment, when other groups are too busy pushing their political agendas.

    No more one-handed magazine... (Below threshold)
    moseby:

    No more one-handed magazines in the Campus Center? Those bastards!!

    After reading this article ... (Below threshold)
    Kim:

    After reading this article I find it strange that you condem Kathy Griffin for excersing free speech and also condem OSU for writing a policy that limits free speech on campus. I would think that you would love the OSU policy after the article your wrote about Kathy.

    OSU's policy is just a little silly. This was not created in a vaccum. OSU is a large university with a long history of tolerating less than stellar conduct of its football team including trying to cover up/ignore an incident of gang rape perpetrated by football players many years ago. The women on that campus forced a policy and behavior change from OSU.

    While the idea of eliminating hate speech is noble idea the reality of enforcemnt is impossible. This would be better as part of belief statements or incorporated into residential curriculum.

    "Words, actions, and behavi... (Below threshold)
    Jack Collins:

    "Words, actions, and behaviors that inflict or threaten infliction of bodily or emotional harm, whether done intentionally or with reckless disregard, are not permitTED"

    I guess this means OSU football season has been cancelled.




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