Tuesday, August 04, 2015


If you're suspicious when you see the word "criticizing" in the headline to this story by Todd Starnes of Fox News, you're entirely justified:
TCU student punished for criticizing Islam, Baltimore riots
Starnes is coming to the defense of someone who did a bit more than criticize:
All it took was 140 characters for Texas Christian University to suspend a conservative student who posted a series of social networking posts that insulted the Islamic State, the Baltimore rioters and Mexicans.

TCU banned Harry Vincent from most campus activities, ordered him to perform 60 hours of community service and attend a diversity training class....

On April 29 TCU sent Harry a letter accusing him of violating the university’s code of student conduct -- specifically he was accused of “infliction of bodily or emotional arm” and “disorderly conduct.”

The charges stemmed from a half dozen tweets he had posted online referencing radical Islam along with a Facebook message about the Baltimore riots.

“These hoodrat criminals in Baltimore need to be shipped off and exiled to the sahara desert,” he wrote. “Maybe then they’ll realize how much we provide for them (welfare, college tuition, Obama phone’s, medicare, etc.”

In regards to Islam he wrote, “This is clearly not a religion of peace.”

He also used the word “beaner” a derogatory term to describe Mexicans.
Responding to someone who complained about his comments, he responded: “When I said you would be reincarnated as a beaner I was being generous”
Planning a school getaway, he noted: “Almost as tan as a terrorist. Going to be thoroughly disappointed if I’m not racially profiled on my trip to the gulf shores”

(See captures of the original messages here.)

As a Dallas Morning News story notes, TCU is a private university, and has every right to impose disciplinary standards as it sees fit:
Robert O’Neil, former president of the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin system, said public institutions have to tread carefully not to violate students’ First Amendment rights. However, private, religiously affiliated colleges have almost no constraints -- other than public, student or alumni backlash -- on their ability to punish students for speech.

A private university is “free to -- as least as far as the law is concerned -- to do whatever it wants, to expel a student for whatever reason,” O’Neil said. “It’s unlikely that a court would intervene.”

... Part of the debate over Vincent’s social media comments resulted from a clash between two portions of the student handbook. One supports the rights of free speech and another says discrimination and harassment are incompatible with TCU’s mission.
Yes, but if you look at the TCU student handbook, you see that the right of free speech comes with an asterisk:
Because the rights of free speech and peaceable assembly are fundamental to the democratic process, TCU firmly supports the rights of all members of the University community to express their views or to protest against actions and opinions with which they disagree. At the same time, all members of the University community share the responsibility to maintain a campus atmosphere consistent with the University’s mission to preserve the dignity and seriousness of University ceremonies and public exercises and to respect the rights of all individuals.
(And if any students have a problem with a private university having such a free-speech policy, I recommend that they try applying for a job at a corporation.)

Meanwhile, the school prohibits
harassment on the basis of age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, ethnic origin, disability, genetic information, covered veteran status, and any other basis protected by law.
And the policy is extended to online communications:
Behavior inconsistent with the University’s mission, community standards, or Code of Student Conduct will not be exempted from disciplinary action simply because it occurred or originated in an online forum.
I would have thought that a conservative like Todd Starnes would deeply the imposition of one-size-fits-all rules from the government on private educational institutions, but I guess not.

Starnes does recognize that TCU has the right to its own disciplinary code, but he says Vincent shouldn't have been punished, because Jesus.
TCU is a private school and as such they are not bound by the First Amendment. However, as a Christian school they ought to be bound by the Good Book.
Starnes neglects to quote whichever Bible passage he's thinking of that says a good Christian should just shrug off the words of a hatemonger.

Starnes twice refers to those on social media who brought Vincent's slurs to TCU's attention as a "lynch mob." (If you hadn't noticed, every Republican outrage-du-jour is required by law to be compared either to Nazism or to the brutal treatment of pre-Civil Rights Era blacks.) Starnes adds:
The irony is that Harry received a stiffer punishment than a lot of the street thugs who terrorized Baltimore.
Let me remind you again of what that punishment was, in Starnes's own words:
TCU banned Harry Vincent from most campus activities, ordered him to perform 60 hours of community service and attend a diversity training class.
Get back to me, Todd when a guy like Vincent is taken for a rough ride.


Victor said...

Welcome to reality, Son!

Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequence(s).

As Steve said, try expressing your freedom at your company. And then, if your freedom to speak doesn't enhance your companies image, and instead worsens it, don't be surprised when the next time you're scheduled to work, they ask you to wait in the lobby as they bring the stuff you had in your office out to you in boxes - and security follows you to your car.

And, if some kid in the schoolyard doesn't like what you're saying when you're expressing your right to speak freely, doesn't mean that s/he can't punch you right in the nose.

Roger said...

With ReTodd, it's always butthurto'clock somewhere.

petrilli said...

Knowing Fort Worth as well as I do, I'd say this young man has secured a prosperous future for himself among that community's business elite. And that is no joke.

Yastreblyansky said...

TCU banned Harry Vincent from most campus activities, ordered him to perform 60 hours of community service and attend a diversity training class.
It was the diversity training that broke him. Few have survived the ordeal.

Anonymous said...

Standard asshole "empathy" - my hangnail is far more painful than your broken leg. Modern Republicans are actually proud of this kind of assholery. I wonder about their parents, since modern Republicans seem to have stopped growing up somewhere between 4 and 14.