The preceding December, the student newspaper also published a satirical Christmas carol — in its Christmas carol parody issue — cricitizing affirmative action by criticizing Tufts' black admitted students; in my view, that carol was offensive because unduly harsh and hyperbolic, but it was clearly an attempt to condemn affirmative action in admissions. Yet according to the a decision by the Tufts University Committee on Student Life both these items violate Tufts policies and are thus forbidden at Tufts. Tufts policies prohibit, among other things, "[h]arassment or discrimination against individuals on the basis of race, religion, gender identity/expression, ethnic or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, or genetics", including (emphasis added) "attitudes or opinions that are expressed verbally or in writing." Here's what the University Committee — a majority of which apparently consists of faculty members — had to say about the anti-Islam item (in the interests of saving space, I omit the similar findings about the anti-affirmative-action carol) (emphasis added):
ARABIC TRANSLATION: SUBMISSION
In the spirit of Islamic Awareness week, the Source presents an itinerary to supplement the educational experience.
"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them." — The Koran, Sura 8:12
MONDAY Author Salam Rushdie needed to go into hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa calling for his death for writing The Satanic Verses, which was declared "blasphemous against Islam." Slavery was an integral part of Islamic culture. Since the 7th century, 14 million African slaves were sold to Muslims compared to 10 or 11 million sold to the entire Western Hemisphere. As recently as 1878, 25,000 slaves were sold annually in Mecca and Medina. (National Review 2002).
TUESDAY The seven nations in the world that punish homosexuality with death all have fundamentalist Muslim governments. In Saudi Arabia, women make up 5% of the workforce, the smallest percentage of any nation worldwide. They are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle or go outside without proper covering of their body. (Country Reports on Human Rights pracitces 2001)
WEDNESDAY Most historians agree that Muhammed's second wife Aisha was 9 years old when their marriage was consummated. "Not equal are those believers who sit and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit. Unto all Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit by a special reward." — The Koran, Sura 4:95
THURSDAY The Islamist guerillas in Iraq are not only killing American soldiers fighting for freedom. They are also responsible for the vast majority of civi[l]ian casualties. Ibn Al-Ghazzali, the famous Islamic theologian, said, "The most satisfying and final word on the matter is that marriage is a form of slavery. The woman is man's slave and her duty therefore is absolute obedience to the husband in all that he asks of her person."
FRIDAY Mohamed Hadfi, 31, tore out his 23-year-old wife Samira Bari's eyes in their apartment in the southern French city of Nimes in July 2003 following a heated argument about her refusal to have sex with him. (Herald Sun)
If you are a peaceful Muslim who can explain or justify this astonishingly intolerant
and inhuman behavior, we'd really like to hear from you! Please send all letters to
Lovely: Harsh criticism of Islam doesn't — in the Committee's view — "promot[e] political or social discourse." Rather, it is an "unreasonable attack" (and it's up to the Committee to decide which attacks on religions are reasonable and which aren't).
[W]e find that the MSA proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that The Primary Source harassed Muslim students at Tufts, and created a hostile environment for them by publishing "Islam-Arabic Translation: Submission." The Committee found that the MSA established that the commentary at issue targeted members of the Tufts Muslim community for harassment and embarrassment, and that Muslim students felt psychologically intimidated by the piece....
[A]lthough Tufts students should feel free to engage in speech that others might find offensive and even hurtful, Tufts University's non-discrimination policy embodies important community standards of behavior that Tufts, as a private institution, has an obligation to uphold. Our campus should be a place where students feel safe, respected, and valued. Freedom of speech should not be an unfettered license to violate the rights of other members of the community, without recourse.
We find that the above-mentioned carol and commentary, rather than promoting political or social discourse, as claimed by the members of The Primary Source, instead were designed to harass and intimidate members of the Tufts community because of their race (black) and religion (Islam)....
[T]he Committee has attempted to strike a balance between protecting the rights of students to exist on campus without being subjected to unreasonable attacks based on their race or religion and protecting the rights of students to publish controversial writings....
From now on, all material published in The Primary Source (whether characterized as satirical or otherwise) must be attributed to named author(s) or contributor(s).
We ask that student governance consider the behavior of student groups in future decisions concerning recognition and funding....
The Committee believes that it is important for Tufts University to foster an intellectual climate in which students feel free to express their thoughts, however controversial. Nevertheless, based on the evidence and arguments presented at the hearing on April 30, 2007, the Committee on Student Life holds that The Primary Source violated Tufts University's non-discrimination policy in publishing the carol "O Come All Ye Black Folk" and the commentary "Islam-Arabic Translation: Submission."
What's more, this "unreasonable" speech violates the "rights of other members of the community." What are those rights? Apparently the right "to exist on campus without being subjected to unreasonable attacks based on their race or religion" (including attacks on the religion generally, even those that don't give any student names in particular). And apparently the right to be free of "attitudes or opinions that are expressed verbally or in writing" that "create a hostile environment" for students "on the basis of race, religion, gender identity/expression, ethnic or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, or genetics."
In this case, the punishment for the speech is a ban on one newspaper's ability to publish anonymous speech — while other newspapers that express favored views remain free to shield their contributors from social ostracism and other retaliation through anonymity. It requests "that student governance consider the behavior of student groups," which is to say the viewpoints those groups express, "in future decisions concerning recognition and funding."
But more importantly, the ruling finds that the speech violated general campus rules that make such speech "unacceptable at Tufts" and require "prompt and decisive action." Though it looks like no individual students are being disciplined in this instance, if the Tufts Administration accepts the ruling, it will send a clear message that students who express "attitudes or opinions" like this will be seen as violating campus anti-harassment rules, and will be subjected to "prompt and decisive action," which campus rules say may involve "the disciplinary process," against individual students as well as against organizations. After this decision, what should Tufts students feel free to say in criticizing religions, or in criticizing affirmative action?
Welcome to the new freedom of speech at the new university. No, the Committee's actions don't violate the First Amendment, since Tufts is a private university. But they violate basic principles of academic freedom and public debate on university campuses, especially when the top university administrators claim to "fully recognize freedom of speech on campus." Appalling.