The University of Oklahoma's morning after
The virtually universal reaction to the secret recording of racist chants by fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma was disgust and outrage. The urge to declare oneself opposed to such blatant racism, and to somehow undo the fear and hurt feelings experienced by blacks, was so powerful that the university’s president, David Boren, took extraordinary steps, closing down the frat and expelling the individuals perceived as ringleaders. It felt good – really good – at the time.
People often behave in foolish ways when experiencing powerful urges. But we call the dawn of more carefully considered and rational responses that lead to second thoughts “the morning after.” Something like that is going on in Oklahoma. The ACLU has already done a complete reversal of its initial position on the vengeance wrought on SAE. Robby Soave of Reason writes:
… the American Civil Liberties Union—ostensibly a pro-First Amendment organiztion—had articulated a baffling position on the University of Oklahoma's expulsion of two students for racist behavior: namely, that said actions were the right ones.
But the ACLU has walked back its earlier comments, and now recognizes that OU can't abridge its students' free speech rights, offensive though their conduct may be. "It is difficult to imagine a situation in which a court would side with the university on this matter," writes the ACLU.
David Boren, a former Democrat governor and senator (and a member of a three-generation political family of Democrats), has to be hoping that the expelled students won’t sue or, if they do, won’t be able to find capable counsel. When the ACLU reverses itself and publicly states, "It is difficult to imagine a situation in which a court would side with the university on this matter," the prospect of a humiliating verdict and expensive damages has to be faced. Talk about a painful morning after!
Meanwhile, the university has gone to the favorite bureaucratic solution: creating a new vice president of diversity position. To bureaucrats and Democrat politicians (and ex-politicians), more bureaucracy is the answer to every problem.
The answer to hurt feelings and the legacy of slavery is not the suspension of the Constitution. In the cold light of day, the irresistible urges in response to an outrageous video were as foolish as those animating a couple of horny teenagers. We need grownups in charge of higher education, but alas, that is not the norm in Norman, OK and on many other campuses.
Hat tip: Instapundit