Who would have predicted that a nasal-voiced Trinidad rapper’s ridiculous explanation that her cousin’s friend’s swollen testicles were why she was unvaccinated against the Wuhan virus would bind together Joy Reid, the CDC, The White House, Twitter, “The View,” the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Harvard College in public controversies highlighting the Totalitarian Left’s increasingly ominous enthusiasm for curtailing free speech?
And yet here we are, because the United States of America has lost its collective mind, with progressives and Democrats leading the madness. For the third Ethics Alarms post in three days about a celebrity I would normally ignore, we have this addition to the Nicki Minaj Affair: a Harvard undergrad using the Twitter handle @imjustjuice tweeted two weeks ago that he and his suitemates had been contacted by Harvard authorities and told to remove from their window a flag showing an unusually restrained Minaj saluting in front of Old Glory. (I missed this story at the time because, as noted above, I pay no attention to Minaj. I also pay increasingly little to my alma mater, which regularly disgraces itself.) The latest example of Harvard’s abuse of common sense, civil rights, authority and ethics sat relatively unnoticed until Swollen Testiclegate erupted, but now we learn that Minaj fans have unleashed their fury on America’s oldest, most prestigious and, of late, most obnoxious university.
The FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) entered the fray on September 10. Before making his account private, @imjustjuice tweeted that he deleted the original tweet over concern that Harvard might do something to punish him for the attention his original tweet. That’s why the “request” above isn’t really a request. It is a classic example of an authority chilling free speech. That triggered FIRE, which protects students from such abuse (even if the ACLU will not). It wrote,
“Whether the suitemates’ flag might offend others, Harvard has adopted clear promises pledging its commitment to students’ freedom of expression. Although private schools like Harvard are not bound by the Constitution, they must keep the promises they make — and freedom of expression doesn’t depend on whether someone else might find your speech offensive. FIRE wrote a letter to Harvard today, calling for the university to rescind its demand that these students remove the flag and to allow them and other students to display it in the windows of their residences freely. As we write: “Given Harvard’s strong commitment to protect students’ expressive rights and endorsement of a climate of open discourse, including expression of unpopular opinions, students would reasonably expect to be able to express any viewpoint, even those possibly considered offensive to others, without facing institutional backlash.‘ Harvard must abide by its express commitment to free expression by allowing @imjustjuice and other students to display the flag in their windows, even if certain community members find it offensive.”
I’ve seen some unlikely people become symbols of opposition to government, institutional and mob oppression in my day, but Nicky Minaj wins the prize.