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NAS Applauds Office of Civil Rights' Affirmation of Intellectual Freedom and First Amendment Principles
Stephen H. Balch, President, National Association of Scholars (609) 683-7878

PRINCETON, NJ -- 12 August 2003 -- The National Association of Scholars applauds the splendid affirmation of intellectual freedom and First Amendment principles contained in the letter sent on August 8 to colleges and universities around the country by Assistant Secretary Gerald A. Reynolds of the United States Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. The letter makes clear that none of the antidiscrimination statutes and regulations administered by the OCR may in any way be construed to restrict the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.

"The letter sends a forthright and welcome message to American higher education," said NAS president Stephen H. Balch. "It puts public institutions on clear notice that the Constitution of the United States forbids them from employing antidiscrimination and harassment regulations to infringe freedom-of-speech rights. It also advises private institutions that they can no longer pass the buck to the 'Feds' when seeking to escape responsibility for their own curtailments of intellectual liberty."

"Assistant Secretary Reynolds is to be congratulated for courageously coming to the defense of a now beleaguered academic concept. The long-standing ideal of the university as an open marketplace of ideas is under powerful assault by academic forces that equate criticism of their orthodoxies with discrimination and harassment. These forces have now been informed in no uncertain terms that they can claim sanction neither from the Constitution nor the OCR for their unconscionable abridgments of intellectual liberty and academic freedom."

Perhaps this little missive from Secretary Reynolds will not get much fanfare, but it should, because it's a significant first step toward breaking the liberal stranglehold on American campuses.

Remember the case of the Penn Water Buffalo?
Eden Jacobowitz, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, had been writing a paper for an English class when a sorority began celebrating its Founders' Day beneath the windows of his high-rise dormitory apartment. The women were singing very loudly, chanting, and stomping. It had prevented him from writing, and it had awakened his roommate. He shouted out the window, "Please keep quiet," and went back to work. Twenty minutes later, the noise yet louder, he shouted out the window, "Shut up, you water buffalo!" The women were singing about going to a party. "If you want a party," he shouted, "there's a zoo a mile from here." The women were black. Within weeks, the administrative judicial inquiry officer (JIO) in charge of Eden's case, Robin Read, decided to prosecute him for violation of Penn's policy on racial harassment. He could accept a "settlement" -- an academic plea bargain -- or he could face a judicial hearing whose possible sanctions included suspension and expulsion.
Eden eventually sued and won his case - though he traded a bit on his own ethnicity claiming "water buffalo" is a rough translation of a Hebrew word meaning a foolish person. Jacobowitz, was born in Israel and his native language is Hebrew.)

[ August 16, 2003, 01:53 PM: Message edited by: WmLambert ]

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