Friday, August 18, 2006

AJC op ed: Shameful victory for the intolerant stings

Recently a judge ruled that Georgia Tech's tolerance guidelines, which most universities have, restricted the free speech of those conservative Christians who wanted to be intolerant of other religions. Phil McKnight of Tech's faculty penned an op-ed piece (to balance the screed written by the young woman who brought the case):

"A contemporary German intellectual, Lothar Beier, writing on the controversial and sensitive issues of the French radical right, racism, guest workers, and immigration and integration in Europe, points out that tolerance is the privilege of those in power, and the favor of tolerance can easily and arbitrarily be revoked.

U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester has effectively demonstrated this observation by retracting the Georgia Tech rules of tolerance, which are similar to those prevalent at most U.S. universities. For the time being, it would now appear to be perfectly OK for members of the Georgia Tech community to engage in unrestricted attempts to 'injure, harm, malign or harass a person because of race, religious belief, color, sexual/affectional orientation,' to use the words now banned from the Georgia Tech guidelines for the behavior of members of the university community toward each other.

In the particularly odd language of the court arguments, the 'orthodoxy' of tolerance is not to be permitted. What a peculiar use of the word orthodoxy. Carried to the extreme, I can't help but wonder if this means it is now acceptable for students, depending on where they stand, to refer to one another in public and in the dorms with racial and sexual slurs.

David French, a lawyer for the Christian-based Alliance Defense Fund representing the students who brought the suit, called the court order a 'win for free speech.' It is anything but.

It is a tool for discrimination and intimidation, a victory for those who are intolerant to exercise their intolerance toward groups they dislike, and in doing so to ban tolerance from their wake."


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