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Discriminatory Harassment Code and Legal Cases

Introduction

One of the most interesting speech code cases I would like to highlight is the UWM Post v. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin (1989) case, which is related to discrimination and discriminatory harassment code. First of all, it should be pointed out that the code is related to any speech, which offends people who belong to protected group membership. In other words, one can make a conclusion that any speech, which stigmatizes a person, is prohibited by a discriminatory harassment code.

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The fundamentals of the code

Generally, one is to keep in mind that the cases when speech is considered to be so extreme that it can “deprive the victim of an equal opportunity to pursue his or her education” are quite rare (Silverglate et al., 2005, p. 93). According to the fundamentals of the code, offensive verbal conduct, or behavior in relation to individuals of protected groups is not allowed. Thus, those people who belong to protected group membership on the basis of religion, race, sex, color, etc., are protected from offensive language. On the other hand, it must be noted that speech is permitted to disturb, distress, or unexpectedly defeat, and the kind of speech is also under the protection of the First Amendment.

The universities and colleges attempt to support diversity and multiculturalism on the campus protecting the rights of minorities. For instance, they consider hate speech as homophobic/sexist speech and support individuals who were discriminated against. “The law school at the State University of New York, Buffalo, for example, seeks out and ask state bars to deny admission to former students who violate its hate speech code” (Uelmen, 2010).

While regarding some of the criticisms associated with the code, I would like to say a few words about parody and satire. On the one hand, both forms of social criticism are considered to be invaluable aspects of any society; however, it seems that most administrators of a number of American universities do not possess a sense of humor. Generally, it should be pointed out that when parody and satire inflict distress, they can be regarded as forms of speech, which must be prohibited.

If discrimination and discriminatory harassment code limit itself in banning certain violations concerning a person’s national origin, race, sex, color, etc., it can be regarded as an unconstitutional code. Taking into account the fact that individuals are to be free of all forms of discrimination, a policy prohibiting harassment must be adopted. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that harassment should involve something beyond some speech and behaviors, including the mere expression of certain phrases, ideas, opinions, viewpoints, etc., that some individuals find offensive.

Another case, which is related to discriminatory harassment code, is Bair v. Shippensburg University (2003). It must be noted that the case provides us with a general overview of racism and cultural diversity.

Conclusion

In my opinion, the problems with the speech code should be regulated by the Supreme Court. As far as the code is not limited to basic forms of discrimination, including intimidation and coercion, some points the code includes can be regarded ambiguously. Still, disguised speech codes should be carefully considered, as some words, symbols, or thoughts are not regarded as offensive and protected by the First Amendment. Taking into consideration various speech code cases, one can become familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of discrimination harassment code.

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References:

Silverglate, H., French, D., & Lukianoff, G. (2005). FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech on Campus. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Web.

Uelmen, G. (2010). The Price of Free Speech: Campus Hate Speech Codes. Santa Clara University. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Discriminatory Harassment Code and Legal Cases'. 30 April.

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