In what is being described as a major ruling in relation to schools' anti-harassment codes, a federal appeals court has struck down a Pennsylvania district's code as "overly broad" and in violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The original lawsuit was against the State College Area School District in 1999 on behalf of David Warren Saxe, who said his two Christian children could be expelled for openly expressing their belief that homosexuality is a sin and harmful. The school's policy banned harassment because of race, religion, ethnicity, disability and sex, as well as "clothing, physical appearance, social skills, peer group, intellect, educational program, hobbies or values, etc."
"There is no categorical 'harassment exception' to the First Amendment's free speech clause," wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He said the policy even banned speech that is not considered harassment under federal or state law.
'Barking Mad' in Britain
Britain's most senior soldier, on the eve of his retirement, described as "absolutely barking" (as in crazy) the proponents of political correctness and "social engineering" that are changing the face of that country's military, London's Daily Telegraph reported.
In an interview with the paper, Gen. Sir Charles Guthrie reiterated his belief that women should not serve in certain positions in the military and that disabled soldiers may not be effective in some positions either.
"If they put social engineering and equal opportunities in front of combat effectiveness, there is a real danger of damaging something that really works very well," Guthrie said. "I am absolutely convinced that sometimes the rights of the individual are not as important as the team they are working for."
Officials at the College of DuPage in suburban Chicago canceled a scheduled course titled "Significant Atheists" out of fear that it might be biased against those who do not believe in God, the Associated Press reported. Ed Storke, associate dean of liberal arts at the school, said the course description sounded like it was pushing a particular point of view and may not have been up to academic snuff.
The catalogue described the course this way: "They feared brilliant, powerful domineering fathers; they rejected faith, art and beauty; they were depressed and obsessed with death, sex and fear. Beginning from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, this course will explore the similar backgrounds, experiences and spiritual struggles of the four European men recognized as modern atheism's most significant forerunners: Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud."
Student Rob Sherman complained that it sounded like a hatchet job in the works. "What the course really should have been described as was 'Finding Fault With Significant Atheists,'" Sherman said.
Bully on Them
More and more children in the United Kingdom are suing their school districts, and winning, because they were bullied by their classmates, Overlawyered.com noted.
So much so that the country's National Association of Head Teachers has issued guidelines for dealing with bullying, saying it can be "physical, verbal, emotional, racist or sexual," and includes "sarcasm, gestures, and exclusion from social groups." Victims need not prove any physical harm. Some have pressed claims because they underachieved or failed to reach their potential in life.
"While others may not feel that certain actions or words are of a bullying nature, if the recipient feels they are being bullied that is sufficient evidence to treat the case as prima facie bullying," the guidelines state.
The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that forcing taxpayers to swear before God when providing information about their personal tax holdings is constitutional despite claims that it unlawfully mixes church and state. The court did, however, allow the self-described atheist who brought the lawsuit, Robert Oliver of Christian County, to delete the reference to God on his form and to affirm instead of swear that the information given is correct.
The Missouri Tax Commission requires taxpayers to sign an oath which they "solemnly swear or affirm" the information in their annual listing of personal property is correct. It closes with the phrase: "So help me God."
Swearing Allegiance to Diversity
A Pennsylvania sociology professor is threatening to sue his employer, Bucks County Community College, unless it removes a "loyalty oath" requiring job candidates to describe their commitment to diversity when they apply for jobs there, the Buck County Courier-Times reported.
Myles J. Kelleher described the section, which asks applicants for "a brief statement of your commitment to diversity and how this commitment is demonstrated in your work," as a "a litmus test to see what your political and social attitudes are.
"As a public institution, they are not permitted to restrict hiring on the political and social views of their applicants," Kelleher said. He has enlisted the help of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (which described the oath as a "scandalous coercion of both conscience and mind" that "imposes one fashionable intellectual agenda among many") in his effort.
College President James Linksz said the question is part of the school's effort to find employees who are "sensitive to the changes in our society" and the school will not remove the section in question.
From the Central Servers:
Emily in Plymouth, Minn., relates:
As a high school student with a variety of friends, I feel I'm pretty open-minded. Some things, however are ludicrous.
Recently my school took down a poster because two students were offended by it. It was a lovely photograph of trees with the title, "Possibilities." Underneath was a quote by Albert Einstein that said, "My sense of God is my sense of wonder." Apparently they felt it was inappropriate for the math hallway, especially because the word "God" was capitalized.
Lisa H. believes:
I think the only reason that the women's lib groups don't want to celebrate Valentine's day is because they're left out. Would you want to give one of them flowers or candy? Ladies, if you can't get goodies for the holiday because of your nasty dispositions, don't ruin it for the rest of us who receive and enjoy the extra attention.
Brandon B. in Amarillo, Texas, writes:
I am personally offended by Boy G. in Michigan's use of the word "flaming" to describe fire department personnel. Although I am not gay, I am acutely sensitive to homophobia. "Flaming" is a very offensive term that connotes a flamboyant homosexual. May I suggest a less offensive new PC name: "female, male, or transgendered persons who negotiate combustive environments."
Keith F. has another:
May I suggest an even less offensive term for "fire fighter" such as: "female, male, or transgendered persons who negotiate exothermic environments".
One more from John L. in Nebraska:
May I suggest an even more PC name for fire department personnel: "female, male, or transgender persons who negotiate environments in which conditions may be present in which the natural state of fire is in attendance, due to the application of oxygen, heat, and a non-offensive, yet thoroughly combustible material."
Trey G. insists:
It is the ultimate in hypocrisy for the Utah State University to demand sensitivity training for someone who, by condition of employment, was put in what she felt was an offensive situation.
What about the rights of the cashier who did not want to see the gay and lesbian display? Who is "sensitive" to her feelings?
The Constitution guarantees free speech. It does not guarantee you must be heard.
Ryan S. in Iowa City:
I'm glad to see you touched on the "in heaven there is no beer" problem we are having in Iowa City. It is nice to see for once, that people aren't blaming a song for drinking problems and started looking for the real cause of the large problems in America — discipline, parenting, and respect for self and others.
Todd S. notes:
The old PC patrol art had a black, I mean, African American man, I mean, person, holding a magnifying glass. The new person appears to be white police person. Just another example of Fox News trying to keep the black man, I mean African American person, down!