WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 10, 2015): David Boren, the President of Oklahoma University [OU] says his institution has zero tolerance for racism, but it also appears that he has zero tolerance for – or perhaps a severe misunderstanding of – fundamental constitutional rights.
Numerous clear Supreme Court decisions under the First Amendment seemingly makes it illegal for him to summarily dismiss or even otherwise discipline students for statements however racist, especially when made in private, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
Courts has held time and again that speech which is abhorrent – including because it is racist or sexist – is constitutionally protected, whether uttered by an individual or even by a fraternity.
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Indeed, notes Banzhaf, it is speech which is absolutely abhorrent, and at odds with universally accepted truths and standards, which is most in need of protection under the Constitution. “Statements or songs in favor of apple pie and motherhood rarely if ever need legal protection,” he notes.
The fact that the Oklahoma University racist song some fraternity members sung contained the word “hang” doesn’t make the president’s punitive actions any more constitutional, since the idea that the singing on a bus created a clear and present danger to anyone is rather farfetched, especially since the words were sung in private, as they apparently had been many times before.
Even if a Oklahoma University student posted a statement on his blog seriously advocating that African Americans – or women or law professors – should be lynched, it would hardly c