The question has arisen: Should those nimrod students caught on video shouting racial epithets be allowed to say those things because it’s “free speech” guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution?
Here’s my answer: No.
The University of Oklahoma has acted on several levels in response to this hideous video in which white students are shouting the n-word and making references to lynching while saying bad things about black students on the campus.
The students have been expelled; the fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, has been disbanded; University of Oklahoma President David Boren has issued the strongest statement possible in condemning such conduct.
Will it end this kind of despicable behavior on college campuses across the land? Don’t hold your breath.
This isn’t a free speech issue. Students ought to be held to some standard of conduct. What the nation has seen coming out of that video at OU is a demonstration of crass behavior that stoops to unspeakable levels.
Jim Mitchell’s blog for the Dallas Morning News, which is attached to this post, doesn’t address the free speech issue directly, but he presents an interesting view of what happened that day when the SAE students went berserk.
One of the aspects of modern life, and the OU students should know this, is that nothing — not a single act that anyone commits in public — is immune from technology’s prying eyes. Everyone has a camera these days; it’s contained in that little telephone we’re carrying around with us. You start chanting things you don’t want the world to hear? Be careful, because someone’s going to record it and send it out there.
Free speech? Not even close.
As Mitchell writes in his blog: “These students deserved hefty punishment and they received it, unlike previous generations of Sigma Alpha Epsilon students who apparently learned the same vile song in an age without social media. But these students have absolutely no power to impact lives — yet.”