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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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The Connecticut law has been a virtual dead-letter that should have been repealed or declared a First Amendment violation soon after it was passed in 1917, during World War I when there were a lot unconstitutional laws getting passed.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:
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.
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.