Wednesday, November 26, 2003

UT Hate Speech Incident

Recently, a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Sukhmani Khalsa, who is conservative and a Sikh, wrote in the UTK Daily Beacon about the lack of diversity in speakers being presented by the University-funded Issues Committee, which receives $90,000 to present speakers. He noted that the committee was failing its express mission to "examine the most pertinent issues in a creative and balanced manner."

Members of the Issues Committee traded emails discussing the article in blunt and unrepentent terms. Even vulgar terms. Unfortunately for them, a former member of the committee, another conservative who earlier resigned over just the same objections Khalsa had, was still on the email list and received every message. He made those emails public and touched off a firestorm.

Justin Rubinstein, one of the committee members wrote: "...if you see one of those ragheads, shoot him right in the fucking face." Others admitted the committee was liberal and saw no problems.

Adam Groves, UTK student, blogger and member of the Rocky Top Brigade, has been all over this incident. Read his blog for detailed reports and follow ups.

The story has taken all kinds of weird turns. It appears that the University will not be taking any action against the committee, or its members. At one point, Groves posted about a meeting between Rubinstein and the Student Judicial Board:
Today, I chated [sic] with a member of the Issues Committee who said that Rubenstein had met with Student Judicial Board judges. He characterized the chance that Rubenstein would receive disciplinary action after the meeting as "unlikely." The panel members reportedly characterized the email in question as a "joke" that didn't warrant any action on their part.
There are two points here. Did Rubinstein meet with the judges individually, in private? Wouldn't that be a violation or at least an ethical lapse? Or was this a formal hearing, in which case was it open to the public? Why or why not? Something smells wrong there.

Also, if you go to Groves' site, you can read the whole emails to get the context of the pull quote, which does serve to mitigate Rubinstein a bit. But imagine if he'd said "...if you see one of those niggers, shoot him right in the fucking face." Would he even have had a chance? Would he even still be a student at UTK? Wouldn't there be one hella uproar that would be major news? There is very definitely an appearance of different standards at play here, something which critics have latched onto.

The main critics, and the main camp keeping the story going, are the UT College Republicans. Their website is also reporting this story, and detailing UTCR actions in response. Quite honestly, they seem to be playing a very hard line on this story, but again, its a matter of appearance.

My snarky suggestion would be to make the phrase "shoot him in the fucking face" the new campus catchphrase. Whenever someone pisses you off you respond with that phrase.

Damn, my professor says I'm failing his class.
Awww, screw him! Shoot him in the fucking face!

My girlfriend's been giving me a hard time lately.
Hey, shoot her in the fucking face!

See how long before the campus PC police suddenly don't find it funny any more. Then call them on their double standard. Then demand action.

WMC TV5 Memphis has also taken up this story as well as the Shelby County Republicans. And, of course, Adam Groves has a wealth of links at his blog.

As Glenn would say, "Advantage, Groves!" Well done, Adam.

No comments: