In May 2014, Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon declared that two students made a "hostile and discriminatory environment" when they made racial jokes during a college party. These jokes were heard by a bystander who felt offended at the students' remarks.
The jokes in question took place on Nov. 23, 2013. Approximately 20 students attended a private party in the residence hall. Many of the attendees were members of the Lewis & Clark football team.
During a game of "beer pong" one of the friends named his team "Team N***a", and he would cheer the team name at every score. The same individual joked with a white friend about "white power" as a greeting.
From left, Connor Sloan, Colin Fearon and Chris Francois play beer pong outside after heavy snowfall moved through the region on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, in Carbondale, Ill. (AP Photo/The Southern Illinoisan, Steve Matzker)
In response to the offended student contacting school authorities, these two friends contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help in defending their rights.
"To punish two friends for joking with one another simply because someone overheard their language and was offended is utterly wrongheaded," Robert Shibley, FIRE's Senior Vice President said.
In spite of this, Lewis and Clark College did indeed punish the friends with "Community Restitution" in the form of "Bias Reduction and Bystander Intervention Training."
FIRE contacted the school entreating Lewis & Clark President Barry Glassner to remove the charges and sanctions as they are punishing the students for speaking freely.
However, Lewis & Clark is a private institution. The institution does guarantee freedom of speech in the school policy, but it seems that doesn't matter when you consider their policy on what kind of speech they prohibit.
There has been a complete disregard of common sense here, but I feel I should clarify something.
There could be those who read this story and think, "Why would they joke about such things?" The simple answer is because it's funny. I am personally of the opinion that the best jokes are the ones that are very piercingly at someone's expense. Life will eventually kill us; it is a losing struggle that we should fight with contempt and defiance. The best way to do this is, it seems to me, is comedy, and some of the best tools for comedy are irony and obscenity.
I have a very diverse group of friends myself, and we all make racial, religious, and sexual jokes about one another. It's what we do.
The last time I walked into a gas station with my Pakistani friend, Sher, I asked, "Hey, Sher, does your daddy own this place too?"
Since he's from the East, I joke that he's "loaded" from all the oil money. Since he is a Muslim, he'll jokingly threaten to blow us all up.
We have a joke that anytime we are brainstorming he'll say, "I've got it. Here's what we do. We hijack a plane and--", we interrupt, "That's your solution for everything."
He calls me "White boy," associates me with the KKK, or he tells me I'm a supporter of the "Arian race." Since I am a, Deist he calls me the "infidel" or the "heathen."
We are always calling one another's sexuality into question, we incessantly insult one another, and we are all best friends. This kind of humor is only possible when we have moved past racism and other formes of bias. I flatly reject racism as a false construct. There is only one living human species, and color is not a reasonable qualifier for separation by "races." We can use these jokes and not be offended because we know the intentions of the other person, and we are not so childish that we are emotionally hurt by simple words that were not intentionally hurtful.
The student who complained is part of the true problem here. That student did not like the jokes that were not even directed at him at all, and he made it his mission to censor others. He wanted them to conform to his idea of proper speech, and the college concurs.
The movement to subject us all to political correctness seems inexorable. These fascists would control our speech for the purpose of protecting their fragile sensibilities. We all know about the celebrities helping to push an agenda to ban words like "quirky." No one is forcing you to listen or care.
As Mark Twain put it, "Censorship is telling a man he cannot eat a steak because a baby cannot chew it."
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