Thursday, August 17, 2006

Poor, Sad Ruthie

In today's AJC, there was a headline that caught my eye: Tech students endured threats in free speech crusade. Reading the article, I was reminded of a lawsuit that had been filed by a couple of College Republicans who felt their constitutional right to bash minorities, gays, and other "undesirables" was threatened by Georgia Tech's speech code. This code was meant to suppress intolerant or offensive behavior.

Ruth Malhotra and Orit Skylar filed the suit, and if I remember correctly, it was funded by an ultra conservative legal group like Southeastern Legal Foundation or Heritage. These facts make me automatically hostile to whatever claim they made, but these two do have a point.
The politically correct speech codes of the 1980s and 1990s probably have gone too far. People should be free of harrassment and intimidation in school, and making people aware of the affect of language is a benefit of having these "speech codes". What bothers me is telling people what they can and cannot say. Many people are boors and will say just many offensive things about a variety of groups. I'm pretty sure that Ruth Malhotra falls in this category. She's a right wing GOP nutjob who's opposed to any form of affirmative action, gay rights, women's rights (ironic how women have always fought women's rights throughout time...every group has its sellouts I guess), etc. You name the progressive issue, and I'm sure Ruthie is against it.

From the coverage of the lawsuit, I remember that Ruthie was especially incensed about female empowerment (via the Vagina Monologues), abortion rights, gay rights (and really, anything that said being gay was OK and not a choice you could "undo"), and affirmative action. One thing that got her in trouble at Georgia Tech was having a "diversity bake sale" where people were charged different prices depending on their gender and race. While clever, that stunt was a false analogy. The 1964 Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate in a publicly offered "good" based on race, gender, national origin, etc. It would have been more appropriate for her to have some kind of raffle for a highly desirous prize and give extra entries automatically to people based on race, gender, etc.

So Ruthie and her pal in the Georgia Tech GOP, Orit Skylar, sued. Tech has now backed off its speech codes, which is probably a good thing. The nice thing about free speech is that while Ruthie can spew her bile, we can speak the truth to counteract. Hopefully, she can be held up for shame and ridicule for her right wing views. Already during the last school year, Ruthie had to endure death threats, maiming threats, and a Twinky shoved in her mailbox (she's Indian, so someone was saying she's yellow on the outside and white on the inside). She's now "nervous" about coming back to campus.

Poor, poor Ruthie! Allow this white homosexual who believes in everything she despises to shed a tear. Poor Ruthie exercised her rights of free speech, and others did too. Now, I don't advocate violence or threats of violence, but ridicule is fair game. She didn't deserve death threats or threats of having acid thrown on her, but she did deserve to be heavily mocked and ridiculed.

She's literally fighting for her right to belittle people, attack women's rights, attack gays, and whatever other right wing agenda item she wants to advocate. One thing the right wing likes to do is say that progressives are hypocrites because we are "intolerant of intolerance". Well, DUH! Society has to have a standard, and if you can't be respectful of others different from you, we shouldn't tolerate that behavior or attitude. We should ridicule you even while you spew your hateful speech on the street corner. The First Amendment is a two way street.

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