"What universities are saying by these codes, special protections, and double standards to women, to blacks, to hispanics, to gay and lesbian students is 'You are too weak to live with freedom. You are too weak to live with the first amendment.' If someone tells you you are too weak to live with freedom, they have turned you into a child."
I'd like to confine the discussion to colleges and universities, because when you start getting into the private sector things get awfully hairy and complex.
But this is important. The general accusation is that "political correctness" is a left-wing concept largely confined to Democrats - who, as we all know, dominate the ranks of academia. Now I myself am a Democrat. I am also a die-hard liberal. But the need for political correctness at the expense of free speech is not something I think I'm comfortable with.
I also heard something tonight along the lines of "People think that freedom means that they have the right to be free from being offended."
This is an important issue. There are things that I find highly offensive in this world. Bill O'Reilly is a great example of one. I vehemently disagree with pretty much everything that comes out of his mouth. So, I don't watch his show. If I did, I'd probably end up a homicidal maniac. I have no problem changing the channel.
Would I love to see him taken off the air? Yes, I would. But I don't think I could ever support an FCC-mandated censorship of his nonsense. We would have to (in my opinion) prove that what he does is actually harmful to the American public. NOT that what he does is offensive.
At many times in my life I have been and very likely will be a complete hypocrite on this issue. I don't think that the University of Maryland should have shown a porno flick to its undergrads. I would actively work to have Bob Jones University and similar institutions shut down because of the hate and discrimination they breed. I would be royally pissed off and probably end up getting in a fight if I walked on my MRU campus to discover some kids shouting "Ban women from this university!" and passing out sexist literature.
But who the fuck am I to say that my beliefs and opinions are "better" or more valid than that of others, and that the people who disagree with me should be silenced? I'd like to think that I'm more evolved than that.
But at the same time, what about sexual harassment? Does freedom of speech extend to some asshole professor who tells me that I have a hot ass? If he never lays a finger on me, never makes any sexual advances or any offers of quid pro quo, should I have the right to sue over being offended? If I do, does that mean that the legal system treats me as a child who can't handle freedom of speech and expression?
This is a really, really tough issue for me as a feminist - as a person who believes in freedom and equality for everyone. If a bunch of female undergrads ran around campus with "Men suck" signs and lit up a bonfire of burning dildos, would a man be given the right to sue for being offended? Or would the response he faced be more like "Are you going to let a bunch of silly, crazy girls get to you??"
I wonder..... how much freedom and equality might be lost when we insist on political correctness? Yet, how much shit would hit the fan if we let everyone run amok in a free-for-all? How can we restrict certain things without restricting others? And who gets to decide?