Yesterday, we received an e-mail from a Vanderbilt University student criticizing our rating of Vanderbilt because she does not feel that her right to free speech at Vanderbilt is limited, in spite of a sexual harassment policy that prohibits "Remarks or jokes that denigrate because of gender" and "[i]nappropriate or offensive behavior that is not necessarily threatening, but usually produces feelings of discomfort in the person toward whom it is directed." More generally—and I will touch on this only briefly here, as this important issue will be the subject of its own blog—this e-mail reveals how a lifetime of censorship and misinformation about free speech has affected the student population. This student further writes:
Many of my male friends make gender-related comments and jokes all the time. I don't see that as sexual harassment. Neither would Vanderbilt because I am not complaining about it. However, if I did feel uncomfortable, I am glad to know that I can take advantage of my rights by telling someone, and I know that the offender will face consequences. This person should face consequences, according to the Bill of Rights, because my right to the pursuit of happiness would be hindered. Thus, the Student Handbook is merely trying to protect our rights by making sure others do not abuse their right of free speech. [Emphasis added.]
Oh. Dear. Sweet. Lord. If this is what passes for undergraduate education at Vandy, I'm crossing it off the list of Acceptable Colleges East Of The Mississippi For The Wee One. I'll give that student $100 if she can specifically cite where in the Bill of Rights it spells out "pursuit of happiness." And, channeling Katt Williams, "Go on, I'll wait...!"
If education is about making sure no one gets offended, then God save those dunderheads when real enemies show up. You know, like the thugs who show up at Iranian student protests who beat unarmed students in the name of defending ...whatever version of their religion they claim to represent. They're offended, too, ya know...