From The Anti-Freedom of Speech Files: UConn And The Connecticut Hate Speech Law

The University of Connecticut  chapter of the NAACP is circulating a video that  shows two students walking through a parking lot blithely shouting out “nigger.” It also sent out a tweet stating, “If you have any information about this racist recording at UConn, please email We will not tolerate racist behavior on this campus.”

To make a relevant point at the outset, this is not “racist conduct,” but racist speech at most. Racist speech is constitutionally protected (that First Amendment thingy), but you wouldn’t know it from the Connecticut  law the two students have been charged with violating. It decrees:

Any person who, by his advertisement, ridicules or holds up to contempt any person or class of persons, on account of the creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race of such person or class of persons, shall be guilty of a class D misdemeanor.

Ridiculing individuals based on gender or sexual orientation is apparently just fine, though: it’s an old law.  The  charge is punishable by a maximum of 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $50, or both.

Jarred Karal and Ryan Mucaj, the two idiots involved, face  possible expulsion from UConn for violating the school’s code of conduct. That’s a separate issue. A school has a right to make reasonable demands on student comportment, and civility, but what is “reasonable” is an ethical gray area. If the students thought they were alone, for example, I am not sure that a state school should be able to punish them. These morons were just shouting the offensive word into the air. Can they be punished for saying “nigger” in their dorm rooms, when they are alone? If the campus NAACP’s circulation of the video is what is disrupting the campus, why isn’t that a punishable offense? The NAACP circulating the video upset and offended more students than the parking lot shouts.

The Connecticut law has been  a virtual dead-letter that should have been repealed or declared a First Amendment violation soon after it was passed in 1917, during World War I when there were a lot unconstitutional laws getting passed. The reason it is being resuscitated in Connecticut, I think it is fair to assume, is that even in a state with a long history of championing religious dissent, the current progressive majority doesn’t support free speech when it is speech it doesn’t like or agree with. In equally progressive Massachusetts, you may recall, a Democratic state legislator named Daniel Hunt just proposed a bill making it a crime to use the word “bitch” to describe a woman. A brief digression:

Citizens In Massachusetts have what’s known as a “right of free petition,” another very old law allowing them to file proposed bills directly through their legislators.  Hunt says a woman in his district came to him this year requesting the legislation, so he filed it on her behalf. Hunt, who is just as much of an idiot as the two UConn students, just a different kind of idiot, has protested the outcry over his bill.

“It’s funny and ironic that the constitutional provision that allows this constituent a conduit to free speech and proposing her idea has been so viscerally pushed back on by people saying this is stifling free speech,” Hunt told reporters. “It’s important whether you agree or disagree with the legislation being proposed that you honor the duty to represent your constituents and have their voices heard.”

So, if, for example, she had wanted him to enter a bill re-instituting slavery, or making the official language of the Bay State Gaelic, or decreeing that citizens had to wear their undergarments on the outside, Hunt would have sponsored those bills too?  I think not. The only reason an elected official would file a bill outlawing pure speech is if the legislator didn’t regard freedom of speech as all that important….like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Hunt was virtue-signaling, and shamelessly.

Digression ended.

Freedom of speech and the First Amendment are under attack with an intensity that they have not been since the height of McCarthyism, by one political party and one side of the political spectrum. The evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable. Now we will see how many citizens really want to live in a democracy and have their children grow up in one, or, in the alternative, think getting rid of a boorish, obnoxious President is worth destroying the individual liberties our nation was founded upon . It would be comforting if a majority had a working knowledge of our Constitution and the history behind the Bill of Rights, but if colleges like UConn oppose freedom of speech, that hope is probably futile.


Sources: Reason, Washington Post

5 thoughts on “From The Anti-Freedom of Speech Files: UConn And The Connecticut Hate Speech Law

  1. I was hoping you’d write about this. I had emailed this to you – don’t know if you got it – but I had asked you a separate question in that email as well.


  2. The law is flagrantly unconstitutional. I can only hope the students have the will to sue, and see it through to the end.

    Alas, I suspect it will not be so, and we’ll see more of these.

    • I wholeheartedly agree Glenn. Until there are consequences to those attempting to bypass the 1st amendment, these type of laws or the SJW mobs on social media labeling any unwanted speech as “hate speech” will continue and probably increase. I understand that it is difficult for individuals to fight back. The forces behind these attacks are powerful and they have demonstrated, time and time again, their willingness to destroy those who stand in their way.
      In the past, it would have been an organization such as the ACLU who would jump in to champion the cause of those whose rights have be violated, but as Jack has chronicled, the ACLU has abdicated that cause, and none have risen to fill the void. The press is also an organization who has a constitutionally protected mandate to act as an overseer of the government to help ensure these abuses of power are exposed, but don’t hold your breath waiting from them to step forward. They have become a big part of the problem, not a solution.
      My friends, I fear we live in interesting times.

      • The biggest problem is that few people are willing to go to court and see them all the way through. That’s how unconstitutional laws often wind up living way beyond their reasonable life expectancy, which should be very short indeed.

        For example, if these two students decide that the path of least resistance is simply to plead to some lesser charge of disorderly conduct or something, which is very often the case because of the cost of ongoing litigation, this law will continue until someone gets it before a judge — a costly process, as we all know.

        I suspect that’s what will happen here, even though it shouldn’t. Judges can’t rule without a legal controversy before the court, and that leaves bad laws on the books for way too long.

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