FIRE is Committed to Free Expression, No Matter Whose Free Expression
January 10, 2007
by Luke Sheahan
Yesterday, FIRE received an e-mail challenging our commitment to free speech in the Johns Hopkins “Halloween in the Hood” case
, in which student Justin Park was suspended for posting a supposedly racist Halloween flyer
on Facebook.com. The e-mailer asked, “If it was reverse and a black student did this against white students, would you still be preaching free speech?”
The answer is a resounding yes. We’ve helped students of every political and ideological stripe, with no regard for whether their ideas were distasteful to the majority or minority. Our guiding concern has always been the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. But don’t take my word for it—take a look at our case archive (here
, and here
If a black student had run afoul of the Hopkins administration for making statements offensive to whites, we would have defended that student with equal fervor. But in this case, it was an Asian student in trouble for a Halloween invitation that offended a number of black students. Those are the facts.
Incidentally, Sigma Chi, Park’s fraternity, hosted a “White Trash” party prior to their “Halloween in the Hood” party and the Hopkins administration took no issue with that party theme. The bias is not in which cases FIRE will take, but against whose protected speech university administrations choose to discriminate.