Gonzaga University Revokes Punishment of Campus Conservatives

( [email protected] ) Dec 05, 2003 10:18 AM EST

Gonzaga University, a Jesuit university in Washington state, has voided its punishment of conservative students on "hate speech" charges.

Members of the College Republicans at Gonzaga University were charged for inflicting “discriminatory hate speech” by posting pre-approved flyers advertising an upcoming speech by Dan Flynn, author of the book Why the Left Hates America because the flyers contained the word "hate."

However, after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) told Gonzaga president Robert Spitzer in a letter that the school was going against the meaning of free speech, he revoked the punishment of the College Republicans.

In that October 20 letter, FIRE stated its belief that extreme restrictions on the use of certain words, under any circumstances, are "reminiscent of the most primitive and misguided forms of censorship in our history."

FIRE executive director Erich Wasserma said, "We simply said that this was a perversion of the word 'hate' and eventually chilled his campus for open expression and debate, which is something that Gonzaga promises all incoming students and faculty."

According to Wasserman, this incident is yet another example of conservative students being victimized by "ideological zealots." He criticized of restricting saying the word “hate” which eventually limits addressing horrors and hatred in our society as a whole.

"That really just makes no sense," he says, "[but] fortunately, reason prevailed in this case. Father Spitzer directed his university administration to rescind the charges -- and he upheld his duty to academic freedom and freedom of speech on his campus."

Greg Lukianoff, FIRE's director of legal and public advocacy, adds that it is "a dark day when universities in a free society start banning everyday words. In this context, it is especially bizarre. You can't very well eradicate 'hate' -- as some administrators claim they are determined to do -- if you can't even utter the word."