Monday, May 27, 2013

Washington Post Conservative Columnist George Will Defends Wants Many Instances of Sexual Harassment Protected Under the Doctrine of Free Speech

And Completely Fabricates a Department of Education Policy on the Subject

The concept of free speech is dear to the renown conservative columnist George Will.  For example he wants billionaires to have the right to speak so freely and so loudly and so often that they drown out other speech.  To him that is what the Constitution stands for.

Mr. Will’s latest fulmination is against the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.  That office investigated sexual harassment policies at the University of MinnesotaMr. Will is aghast.

Many scandals mean merely cursory scrutiny of most. Now, notice the scant attention being given to an assault on civil liberties by the misconceived Education Department’s misnamed Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Responding to what it considers the University of Montana’s defective handling of complaints about sexual assaults, OCR, in conjunction with the Justice Department, sent the university a letter intended as a “blueprint” for institutions nationwide when handling sexual harassment, too. The letter, sent on May 9, encourages (see below) adoption of speech codes — actually, censorship regimes — to punish students who:

Make “sexual or dirty jokes” that are “unwelcome.” Or disseminate “sexual rumors” (even if true) that are “unwelcome.” Or make “unwelcome” sexual invitations. Or engage in the “unwelcome” circulation or showing of “e-mails or Web sites of a sexual nature.” Or display or distribute “sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials” that are “unwelcome.”

So presumably Mr. Will thinks that it is okay for students to make unwelcome sexual speech, that a person's right to speak freely is above that of a person’s right to be free of sexual harassment. But the real issue here is that Mr. Will has largely fabricated his entire case; it has no basis in reality or what actually took place between the Department of Education and the University.

The document that is the source of Mr. Will’s consternation is this letter from the Department of Education to the University of Minnesota.  Unlike Mr. Will, we have actually read the material, and without repeating it in detail (it is like, really boring legal stuff), it does none of the things that Mr. Will accuses it of.  There is no speech code.  There is no censorship.  All of that is made up by Mr. Will to support an argument that apparently cannot be supported by the fact.   The letter simply documents the lack of the University’s adequacy for dealing with accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and tells the University what it must do to make things right.

In fact, nowhere does Mr. Will quote from or reference the document.  Instead he uses the undocumented analysis of other conservatives who think that free speech is an unbridled license to attack and assault.

Mr. Will, of course, is immune from any problems in this area, non one is harrassing him, and his defense of free speech as the right to verbally assault individuals after those individuals have loudly and clearly expressed a desire not to be verbally assaulted is just one more way in which his conservatism is wrong.  Wrong morally, wrong ethically and even wrong Constitutionally.  There are limits on the right of speech to harm others, such as libel, defamation, crying fire in a crowded theater and the like. 

If Mr. Will was really interested in protecting free speech he would use his efforts and influence to prohibit those who abuse that freedom from acting in such a way that a reaction is to overly regulate speech.  But Mr. Will is just too offended that free speech is the victim when one person continually and obsessively verbally attacks another person. 

And why, why is Mr. Will still granted appearance on a major TV news show?

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