A “teaching moment” at the University of Maryland

Today’s Examiner editorial shows that the University of Maryland richly deserves its “red” rating (the lowest one possible) from the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The rating goes to schools that “clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech.”
In the editorial, we learn that a Maryland student recently was denied service by a check-out clerk at a food collective in the student union because the clerk disagreed with the message on her shirt. The shirt proclaimed “I Stand For Israel.” Because her speech was “offensive,” i.e. it offended the Israel-hating clerk, the student ended up apologizing to the clerk and counting herself lucky that the store provided a different clerk to ring up her sale. Oh, and the student proved the sincerity of her apology by offering the clerk a chocolate cake.
The Examiner editorial should be read in conjunction with Winfield Myers’ piece on the Examiner’s blog board about the state of Middle East studies on college campuses.
UPDATE: I don’t doubt that the University of Maryland deserves its “red” rating, but I was wrong to cite this instance in support of the rating. According to this report, the University took prompt action to address the situation, and ultimately told the collective that “if it discriminates again, it will have 60 days to vacate the premises.” The real lesson here, I fear, is the degree to which students have internalized the concept that there’s something wrong with “offensive” speech, defined as speech that offends even one person.
Thanks to “Rusty” at Why.I.Hate.DC for calling this to my attention.
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