Friday, May 11, 2007

Newspaper "Harassment" at Tufts

A Tufts panel has apparently concluded, bizarrely, that a conservative newspaper was guilty of harassment for publishing a racially offensive parody. Unfortunately, this is a common misunderstanding of what harassment is. Something that offends you is not harassment. And it is essentially impossible for anyone to be legally "harassed" by a newspaper because there is no compulsion to read it.

Fortunately, it appears that Tufts is not treating this case as an actual incident of harassment. There doesn't appear to be any punishment yet, beyond a reprimand and a requirement (which obviously shouldn't be made) banning anonymous articles. And the committee recommended that the newspaper's funding should be cut, although we can hope this idea is ignored. What's dangerous is the chilling precedent set by this misunderstanding of harassment, and the threat that individuals may be punished in the future for writing offensive articles that have their names on them.

See FIRE's coverage of the case.

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