University’s Student Government Bans Offensive Speech

by Andrew Desiderio - George Washington University on December 4, 2013

The student government at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has passed a resolution that bans offensive speech.

“Certain derogatory terms diminish the broadly inclusive and welcoming quality of our campus,” states the resolution, approved by the student government Nov. 13. “We pledge to remove derogatory terms from our vocabulary (that may or may not be purposely directed as offensive) in regard to a person’s gender, age, disability, genetic information, race, color, religion, pregnancy status, marital status, veteran’s status, national or ethnic origin, gender identity or expression, place of residence, political affiliation, or sexual orientation.”

The resolution does not spell out specific words that could be deemed derogatory, defined by Merriam-Webster as expressing a low opinion or showing a lack of respect for something or someone.

Student President Eric Reznicek, in an email to The College Fix, said the resolution’s passage does not equate to a “ban of speech.”

“There was no ban of speech, rather, an encouragement to use more inclusive language and to encourage not using potentially offensive vocabulary,” Reznicek stated.

Prior to the vote, one student senator suggested derogatory terms disallowed under the legislation would include phrases such as “that’s gay” or “that’s retarded,” reported The Daily Nebraskan student newspaper.

The resolution was approved in a controversial split decision – 16 in favor, 6 opposed, and 4 who abstained – with some student senators suggesting the measure was overkill, that the university’s anti-discrimination policies should suffice, the newspaper reported.

What’s more, the resolution almost got one student senator impeached because, before the vote, he cited a Chris Rock comedy routine that included the n-word, and also made other remarks deemed offensive by many student senators.

That student, Cameron Murphy, has stated he made the comments to illustrate the resolution’s absurdity and take a stand against infringements on free speech.

In a narrow vote Monday night, a committee of students and administrators agreed Murphy could retain his student senator seat despite his Nov. 13 comments, The Daily Nebraskan reported Tuesday.

In a Q&A interview also published Tuesday in The Daily Nebraskan, Murphy stood by his controversial speech.

“You should be able to say whatever you want, whether it be popular or unpopular,” Murphy said. “And you shouldn’t be punished, especially at the university, this is supposed to be the place of ideas, where people formulate their opinions and their beliefs and formulate new ideas. … If you’re hurt by someone saying a word, I would say grow up.”

Asked to weigh in on the resolution, Robert Shibley, senior vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that defends individual rights at universities, said there is nothing wrong with students encouraging each other to act politely, but removing derogatory terms is “unwise” because “people frequently and reasonably disagree on what is derogatory.”

Shibley, in an email to The College Fix, further explained why speech that is considered “derogatory” could also be considered valuable: “A vast amount of speech — everything from repeating a Chris Rock monologue, to criticisms of female genital mutilation in Islamic countries, to criticisms of white supremacist political groups — would violate this student government pledge.”

“That’s why the right answer to speech and arguments you dislike is working to convince those with whom you disagree rather than working to silence them.”

Fix contributor Andrew Desiderio is a student at The George Washington University.

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  • Caleb50

    The problem with “encouragement” is that it very easily and rapidly turns into unconstitutional punishment. In fact, we see it right here in the article. A student said some words and the immediate response is “impeach him”! There it is right there. And of course, the students who advocate for these speech codes sit in moral judgment. None of them believe that anything they say could ever be interpreted as derogatory by somebody else. This is the same faulty thinking propelled by people who are OK with NSA activities because “they have nothing to hide”. Except who decides that? One of these days some leftist student will make some negative comment about Christianity that others find offensive and there will be calls for his or her head. And that will be good as a way to show how foolish and dangerous these silly measures can be.

  • dollaholla

    Does “offensive” language include calling people Tea Party members Tea Ba$%^&s?

    • TruthTeller

      It’s not offensive when they are just pointing out The Truth. As long as you have the “right” belief system, you can say anything you want.

      • dollaholla

        And the “right” belief system is dictated by whom? If the Tea Party wanted to hold a rally on the campus on the same day the Muslim Brotherhood wanted to have a gathering. Who has the “right” belief system? Just asking!

  • Rosenkranz

    Who determines what speech is “offensive”?

    Who is the wise guy who determines what words we can say?

    • TruthTeller

      Clearly it is the “right-thinking” progressives. They would be happy to let you express your point of view, just so long as it isn’t wrong. It’s the same mentality that encourages politicians to call for truth squads to police the news media. If they can just root out all those dissenting voices, people will only hear their version of the truth.

      • piper60

        And liberal academics have a monopoly on truth-and its their duty to transmit it, lest the next generation not hate their country or distrust snake oil merchants selling free lunches.

    • Melvin Bonzarelli

      Hitler. Stalin. Kim Jung Un. Obama.

    • pigglywiggly

      The same old culprits.

      9/6-9/2012 http://www.gallup.com/poll/157… Those wanting more government control over us: Republicans 15%; Independents, 29%; Democrats 67%.

  • I-Independant

    Note that intelligence is not mentioned. So, “sub-human” etc. are OK.

  • TruthTeller

    “We want students to explore all ideas and points of view… that we approve of.”

    For years, the progressive front repeated the mantra, “If you don’t like it, change the channel.” They claimed to fervently believe in ideas, and free expression. Now those same people are at the forefront of a movement that rivals any fascist regime in history. No one is more intolerant of other points of view than progressives. And they feel justified, because their way is “right”. Which, of course, is the same justification that fascists have always offered up.

    • piper60

      The stucoun’s language is unconstitutionally vague- and state schools can’t infringe the Bill of Rights. They can’t. No such authority can exist!

  • I-Independant

    Note that intelligence is not mentioned. So, “sub-human” etc. are OK. So, this allows the snobs to express their distaste for us lower life forms.

  • Jonathon Hero

    Banning “offensive” speech is absurd.

    Isn’t it better that those that harbor the most intense hate are allowed to speak it so we all know to avoid them?

    How the hell can you justify inflicting actual punishment and harm to someone for saying something that might offend?

  • Ripper

    Fuque off!

  • Melvin Bonzarelli

    I’d love to sit in on a class on the history of WW2 at this university.

    “Adolf Hitler liked dogs, was polite to women, was loyal to a fault to his followers, and was always impeccably dressed, whether in his Nazi Party uniform or in a civilian suit straight out of Harrows. Some say that Hitler did have anger management issues, and appeared less than tolerant of certain groups of people, but who are we to judge?”.

    Don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, even if they are one of the great mass murderers of human history. In the words of Hillary Clinton: “What does it matter?”.

    • piper60

      Hillary ran on the idea of who do you want answering the phone if it rings at 3am/ Turns out, it didn’t matter. Moral cowardice is gender neutral and contagious.

    • piper60

      And when the phone did ring at 3am-who answered it? What did it matter?

  • Old Hickory

    Orwell pretty much covered this 70 years ago. Just change “printed” to “spoken” and it’s perfect:

    “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

  • pigglywiggly

    I guess Obama will be banned from speaking there.

    -“They Bring a Knife…We Bring a
    Gun”

    -“Get in Their Faces!”

    -“Hit Back Twice As Hard”

    -”We talk to these folks… so I know whose *** to kick.”

    -“hand to hand combat”

    -“Punish your enemies.”

    -“I’m itching for a fight.”

    -”We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for a ride, but they gotta sit in back.”

    (To verify these Obama quotes Google search the quote itself; most are on video)

    -10/25/12http://www.politico.com/playbook/: “…Obama grinned. … ‘You know, kids
    have good instincts,’ Obama offered. ‘They look at the other guy and say, “Well, that’s a bull****er, I can tell.’”

    -http://lincolninstitute.org/article.php?id=4512 Obama on the campaign trail promoting Obamacare at a town hall meeting, August 11, 2009:

    “Right now, doctors, a lot of times, are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that’s out there. So if you come in and you’ve got a bad sore throat, or your child has a bad sore throat, or has repeated sore throats, the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, ‘You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out.’”

    -11/29/13 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2514667/Obama-referred-Tea-Party-protesters-tea-baggers-handwritten-letter-Texas-teacher.html Obama referred to Tea Party protesters as “tea-baggers”

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=teabagger “A man that squats on top of a womens face and lowers his genitals into her mouth during sex, known as teabagging”

  • The Dude

    i bet they would allow hate speech towards conservatives and Christians.
    There will be very selective enforcement

    • joshua

      the word “obama” is totally offensive to me and should be banned from all media usage universally. replace with Sotero

      • piper60

        Or Benjamin GHazi-then we’d never have to hear about Barry O’Bummer, ever again-at least not from the white house.

  • The Dude

    Ahh…. Their speech policies mirror the Europeans where a person can go to jail and be sued for offending another person….

    • piper60

      Our current regime is europhile beyond reason. They’d rather a european policy that doesn;t work than see America remain powerful and prosperous.

  • joshua

    ban every word that is found on the web site Urban Dictionary, and ban all text messaging and twitter abbreviations, and insist that no language of words be used ever in literature, conversation, or writing that is not specifically found in the 1956 version of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Problem solved. No nicknames, or salutations other than the proper name of anyone as shown on their birth certificate. Any professor or academic university employee that does otherwise or allows this not to be constantly, consistantly, and totally enforced should be immediately terminated and sued for breach of performance.

  • Michael Becker

    What a bunch of ignorant, stupid, fools. They’d better not ever leave academia. With respect to Cameron Murphy, sir you are destined for a wonderful career.

  • Mnestheus

    What a censorious bunch of sissies.

  • name

    George Orwell’s 1984 alive and kicking
    This is double plus ungood

  • Mitch

    It is time to ban student governments.

  • Robert

    What about ‘honky’ and ‘cracka’? Tea B@66ers? Neo-con? Are they offensive?