Students recently received a letter from the campus president saying:
“Recently an outside visitor brought hate speech onto one of Santa Monica College’s campuses… This will not be tolerated. If you are the target of hate speech or witness it, you should immediately contact the Santa Monica College Police Department at (310) 434-4300 or submit an anonymous report to campus police via the LiveSafe app… Do not engage with the individual causing such an incident.”
There are a couple of big problems with this.
First, the incident in question didn’t just involve hate speech. There was a physical attack involved. Yes, the assailant hurled racial slurs at the woman he was attacking, but it was the physical attack that was illegal and needed to be reported to the police.
Notice in the letter the college president makes no mention of the physical assault, almost as if the racist speech matters more than actual violence.
That’s problem number one.
Problem number two is that this college is teaching its students that the proper reaction to racist or sexist language is to get law enforcement involved.
We already have enough problems with our college-aged students thinking that certain kinds of speech should be illegal and punishable by law.
It doesn’t help that now high-ranking officials are feeding this notion that undermines and threatens free speech. We’re going to have a new crop of adults joining society who think the appropriate response to an insult is to call the police. What could go wrong?