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Archive for August 20th, 2008

University of Maryland Claimed Dominion Over the First Amendment to Protect “Emotional Safety”

Posted by iusbvision on August 20, 2008

…Until they got sued.

Here are excerpts from the Maryland Daily Record (Hat Tip FIRE):

UMBC to change policy on student displays
Pro-life student group will withdraw lawsuit if new policy followed
Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer, August 10, 2008 6:15 PM

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County will change its facilities-use policies after a student pro-life group claimed its First Amendment rights were violated when its display featuring graphic images of aborted fetuses was moved away from a prominent public area on campus.

Members of Rock for Life, a registered student organization at UMBC, were given permission by university officials in mid-April 2007 to put up a display outside one of the university’s main buildings on April 30, 2007, according to Rock for Life’s complaint filed in April 2008.

But, according to the complaint, the group was told to move its display two times – once on April 25 and again on April 30 before the display was set up – to progressively “more deserted” areas on campus.

Aden said the university moved Rock for Life because of its message, noting larger events and other student groups have used the space Rock for Life originally requested.

“The purpose of the display was substantially thwarted that day,” Aden said, noting it was not a demonstration or a protest. “This particular display is designed to provoke discussion with the students who see it.”

But Sally L. Swann, an assistant attorney general representing UMBC, said the display was moved because the proposed 24 large posters would obstruct building exits and posed a fire hazard.

Lawyers for both sides met during several lengthy recesses to hammer out the details of the newly worded facilities-use policy, with the university removing the phrases “emotional safety” and “emotional harassment” from the list of reasons officials could move a display without notice.


A fire hazard… when I read that I admit that I laughed out loud. I can just see Federal Judge Motz asking, “Ok University of Maryland, please provide a list of progressive secular events you moved from that spot because it was a fire hazard. Oh..what was that.. you cant find any..” and it would have gone downhill form there. I asked a teenager what she would do if there she were in charge of this situation and she told me, “Well what I would do is have a policeman (or campus safety director) look at the display after it was set up to make any adjustments needed to insure that there was no real danger.”

Amazing logic wouldn’t you say? Perhaps the University of Maryland should find the nearest teenager and appoint him/her to be the new chancellor.

I must yield further analysis to FIRE’s Bob Shibley, whose blog post about this case was a home run:

Now, I don’t know what kind of protests UMBC administrators had in mind with this policy, but it’s hard to believe that they actually think that “emotional harassment” or a lack of “emotional safety” are unacceptable aspects of a protest. Are Tibetan protestors outside the Chinese embassy to be held liable for the “emotional safety” of the pro-government embassy employees inside? When a group of antiwar protestors covers itself in fake blood and lies all over the steps of a government building, are they unlawfully “emotionally harassing” those inside who might support the war or work with the military? Protests are not designed to make their targets comfortable. If a university is willing to silence anti-abortion protestors because they make the targets of campus protests (presumably, young women) uncomfortable, they have effectively declared that all protests are unacceptable–a stunning violation of the Constitution on a public campus. While it is good that UMBC is willing to negotiate to get rid of these absurd rules, it should have known better than to institute them in the first place. Lessons commonly learned in junior-high social studies classes should not come as surprising news to college and university administrators.

Exactly. At this point I have to ask, how is it that so many universities find people stupid (not a word I use lightly) enough to make a policy like the one at UMBC? Anyone with a residue of good sense and education would have to ask, “How painfully dumb must they be to write such a policy and why are people like this allowed near our children and why are they paid six figure salaries?” Or is it that today’s universities have become radicalized so far out of touch with the American way and common sense that they have become Hegelian dinosaurs in an enlightened age that recognizes the moral superiority of liberty.

Posted in Campus Freedom, Indoctrination & Censorship, Chuck Norton | Leave a Comment »