August 17, 2007
Free speech and the University of Maryland
The mind boggles. A student buying food in the student union at UMD wearing a shirt saying "I stand for Israel" is denied service by a clerk who says, "Your shirt offends me, I won't ring you up." So was free speech defended on campus? The Examiner reports:
After much hand-wringing and political posturing by co-op and school officials, the student got her food after being checked out by a different clerk. Then she apologized to the offended clerk and offered a chocolate cake as proof of the sincerity of her apology for being "offensive."Technically, the co-op is not affiliated with the university, but it does rent space from the school, which makes the co-op a place of public accommodation. Numerous federal and state court cases long ago established that places of public accommodation are covered by the First Amendment and cannot discriminate against anybody's race, sex, religion, political beliefs, martial status, etc.
Somehow, I suspect that a T-shirt expressing support for Palestinians would never encounter such difficulty, and if it did, the school would have the clerk apologize.
Hat tip: Richard Baehr