The Dumbest Argument for Censorship That You Will Read Today

Here's the president of the censorious Sinclair Community College in Dayton defending his school's restrictions on protest signs:

Colleges have an obligation to protect students, employees and visitors in an era when acts of domestic terrorism have captured headlines, said [Steve] Johnson. Concerns about campus violence have spiked, he said, since the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado and the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings in which 33 people died.

Columbine caught the attention of educational institutions nationwide, Johnson said, serving as a 9/11 to campuses everywhere. "And Virginia Tech was the second 9/11."

Although Johnson said he can't imagine how "words on (a) sign would make a person unsafe," he did say protest signs could be used as weapons.

"It has nothing to do with what was printed on those objects," he said, "but what those objects could be used for."

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  • Spoonman.||

    Pencils, books, teeth, and martial arts students also banned.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    The human mind is the most potent weapon on the planet. The most fearsome creatures on Earth learned to flee from us or became extinct.

    A cane is also a hell of a weapon, BTW. Are they going to ban us gimps too?

  • Brett L||

    I thought free speech zones were unconstitutional at this point, no?

  • Sevo||

    "The Dumbest Argument for Censorship That You Will Read Today"

    Hey, it's early! Has shithead posted yet?

  • Tulpa the White||

    He is correct that large wooden signs can be used as weapons, but moronic for bringing "terrorism" up as a justification. Outside of a Simpsons Halloween Special, a terrorist attack requires more pizzazz than a board with a nail.

  • Drake||

    If students protest in Dayton, does anyone notice?

  • Scarcity||

    Not quite Dayton, but close.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnOoNM0U6oc

  • sarcasmic||

    I can totally understand this! I mean, just the other day some jerk with a sign took a swing at me! I don't remember what the sign said, but it was big and made of wood! Scary shit!

  • Bill||

    At my college, it was very common for protestors to run around and jam wooden sticks up people's azzes. True story!!

  • Brett L||

    Vlad Dracul U in Transylvania?

  • Killazontherun||

    This guy with his fear of wood, a bad history with wooden stakes, maybe? Of course, a vampire would consider wooden devices the weapons of terrorist.

  • $park¥||

    "That's no protest sign..."

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    "...that's my wife!" (Apologies to "No Anchovies, Please" by J. Geils Band)

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    He sounds like a 93 year old ninny talking about those uncontrollable youngsters these days.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Perhaps Johnson is a vampire! That would explain his fear of wood. Does that college ban garlic in the cafeteria?

  • Brett L||

    Seen the Buffy movie one too many times.

  • sarcasmic||

    "You ruined my new jacket!"

    "Kill him a LOT!"

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Columbine caught the attention of educational institutions nationwide, Johnson said, serving as a 9/11 to campuses everywhere. "And Virginia Tech was the second 9/11."

    Wait, what?

    I don't even...

  • Jesse Walker||

    It's like a koan.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Mu.

  • Geoff Nathan||

    It's a metaphor, for the businessmen.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It's a metaphor with as much meaning as "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously".

  • Brutus||

    [eye roll] Do we need to remind you of the horrors of the Columbine and VATech sign-swatting incidents?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    9/11 times two.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Hurricane Katrina was a new 9/11. The housing bubble was a financial 9/11. Every time the Yankees go to the World Series, it's like seven 9/11s in a row. When they run out of grilled cheese at the Sinclair cafeteria, it's 9/11 x 9/11.

    With 9/11s happening every goddamn day, its no wonder this guy is ready to ban breathing as a potential weapon.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    The cold (deleted terrorist restaurant)'s pizza I got 45 minutes late was the ultimate second 9/11. (sob.) I'll never forget the image of that second pizza hitting. You bastards! There were icesickles everywhere. (sniffle.)

  • Cavpitalist||

    Placards don't bruise people, people do. Make love, not cliched signage!

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Picards don't bruise people either. Except their egos with his acerbic rapier wit.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Swamp Think||

    Smells like the banality of evil.

  • T||

    You can get a wicked nasty papercut off of posterboard.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Just SHUT UP-SHUT UP-SHUT UP-SHUT UP!
    Goddamn, I'm trying to soak this sinecure till retirement and I don't need any protest shit or anything else fucking it up.
    Pay your fucking tuition or just sign the loan papers, fuck each other blue and don't cause me any greif.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The ultimate in hecklers' vetoes--some nut may react in an irrational way; therefore, no speech that could possibly offend anyone, even if they're batshit insane and unpredictable.

    The unreasonable man standard?

  • Tulpa the White||

    That's not what his (ostensible) argument is.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yeah, I'm not buying the signs-as-weapons argument. That's the university counsel trying to squeeze conduct, which can be regulated, out of content, which cannot be so easily regulated.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    What do they do now, use posterboard on pool noodles?

  • RBS||

    Is there no limit to Tulpa's authority fellating?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The Dumbest Argument for Censorship That You Will Read Today"

    I don't know about that.

    Where's Tony to tell us that coercion by the government is the only thing that makes freedom possible?

  • Trespassers W||

    Where's Tony to tell us that all right-thinking people believe the right to participate in government is the most fundamental right--more fundamental than talking about which rights are fundamental, meeting with other people to have discussions about which rights are fundamental, growing food or trading for food so that you have enough energy to make it to the meetings to have discussion about which rights are fundamental, and generally doing the things you need to do in order to survive so that you can exercise the your most fundamental right of going to the nearest voting booth and ticking a box that will be ignored if the majority ticks a different box.

    Because that was some funny shit.

  • flye||

    Funny strange or funny ha-ha?

  • Brutus||

    Funny like Pol Pot was funny.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Now that's funny!

  • T||

    Tuol Sleng is a barrel of laughs.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    My wife is not a "student of history". One of the neighborhoods here in Long Beach is named "Cambodia Town", and a few weeks ago, she asked me about why there were so many Cambodians here. I then told her all about Pol Pot, year zero, and all that shit. She was aghast.

    The best part was that she could identify parallels between the fascism of Pol Pot, and the political rhetoric of the American Left. She may become a libertarian yet.

  • Trespassers W||

    Funny ha-ha, because the premises of progressivism are usually not stated that clearly.

  • Raston Bot||

    What about banning cars on campus? Or knives in the dining hall?

  • Tulpa the White||

    Only when Obama is visiting, lest someone commit a terrorist attack with a plastic spoon.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    I spork you, mine!

    /Scarface: The Cafeteria Worker Days

  • o3||

    just keep ur hands n feet away fm bluto's WMD mouth

  • Mainer2||

    or ripe fruit ?
    or pointed sticks ?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Another sign we're fucked as a nation. Slowly, slowly, we are taken apart.

    Now, here's some fuckhead to tell us everything will be just fine if we put Obama back in office. Take it away, fuckhead.

  • $park¥||

    Hey, get out of here with that sign. What are you, a terrorist?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it." - the late, great Mitch Hedberg

  • Killazontherun||

    His death was not surprising giving the bender he was on, but it still felt like a kick in the stomach.

  • Robert||

    A prohibition on sticks for signs is actually pretty common for that reason, and not much of a restriction on communication, because they still allow signs to be held by other means, but a prohib'n on leafletting does not have that excuse.

  • sarcasmic||

    Paper cuts, dude. Someone could bleed to death.

  • Tulpa the White||

    The Va Tech guy was originally planning on using pamphlets in his attack, but switched to guns after his printer ran out of ink.

  • sarcasmic||

    I want to know how he got past the "Gun Free Zone" signs.
    I mean, those things have the power of the Watchers of Cirith Ungol!
    Did he have a phial filled with the Light of Eärendil?
    How the fuck did he do it?

  • sarcasmic||

    squirrels

  • T||

    Wow. You just geeked out pretty hard there, sarc.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Seriously, did you have to wiki that, or did you know Eärendil off hand?

    Cause, uh...

  • SKR||

    Really, earendil is the geeky bit not cirith ungol?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I mean I know what Cirith Ungol is (and I've only read the books once and seen the films a couple times - I am a different kind of nerdo). But I got no idea what Eärendil is.

  • sarcasmic||

    I had read the books several times, long before the movies came out.

  • sarcasmic||

    Really, earendil is the geeky bit not cirith ungol?

    Well, yeah. The movies mention Cirith Ungol by name.
    You gotta be a geek to know that the light Galadriel put into the phial came from the Silmaril that Eärendil took with him on his voyage through the heavens.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Earendil is mentioned twice in the movies. OK, once is in the FOTR EE, but still.

  • sarcasmic||

    I knew if off hand, but had to wiki the spelling.

  • Rhinonamous||

    Went to college in DC during the 00s. So, protests everywhere. They used heavy duty cardboard tubes for signposts. Very fun for stickball/drunken swordfights.

  • ||

    (what's your alma mater, if I might ask?)

  • Rhinonamous||

    GWU.

  • ||

    I'm sorry.

  • ||

    Yep, I'm sorry too :-P

  • Rhinonamous||

    I look at it as four years of really nice, overpriced apartments while I worked at the Kennedy Center.

  • Rhinonamous||

    I actually think going there is what pushed me into the top-hatted and bemonocled embrace of libertarianism.

  • ||

    I'd say the same happened to me at another of DC's fine institutions of higher learning. Except I was exposed to a least a teeny bit of conservatism (I was in college in the early 90's so we had quite a few anti-commie Cold War experts still around).

  • Virginian||

    I went to CUA for a bit.

    Best part about that was taking a political theory class. Prof was a right winger, pretty staunch Catholic type. We were doing our Marx unit, and the resident commie gave this long rambling comment about how Marx was really right about everything man, and communism totally could have worked, you know? So brain dead lefty talks for like three minutes and doesn't say anything. Finally he rattles to a stop and the professor looks at him for a moment and then says "No." while shaking his head.

  • Tulpa the White||

    You've never gotten a paper cut infection, Bob.

  • Bill||

    Lemon juice!

  • R C Dean||

    If I ever go to a protest, believe me, my sign will be attached to a length of iron pipe (probably painted pink with polka dots, so its non-threatening). Let SEIU show up with their girly signs.

  • R C Dean||

    Even better: my pipe will be inside a cardboard tube. Painted pink, with polka dots.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The pipe should be a potato gun.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

  • T||

    See, this is why I hang out here. Practical advice I can use.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

  • playa manhattan||

    Is that from the "emails from an asshole" site?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Information Assurance? WTF? I hate government names.

  • Geoff Nathan||

    Not to spoil your fun, but this is about computer security--making it harder to hack into machines and networks. And it's a certificate that computer techies get if they can't make it all the way to a BA.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Since it's sponsored by the NSA, do they teach them how to put backdoors in everything. you know, for government convenience?

  • Geoff Nathan||

    You may get extra points for that, but this is less about developing security thingies and more about just installing them, and monitoring how they protect stuff. This is just a non-degree certificate.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    You know who else liked "back doors" in everything for "convenience"...

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    You know who else liked "back doors" in everything for "convenience"...

    Barney Frank?

  • o3||

    prison drug mules?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Bob Vila?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Yeah, I got that from the DoD's helpful sigil which depicts a Crusader encasing the world in chain-mail to protect it from Saladin's Pakistani computer expert shock troops.

    DEUS VULT!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    *barf*

  • Whiterun Guard||

    This seems like a change in tactics. The preferred method has been to allow protest signs, but regulate them so that they must all be of a certain grade of wood, of certain measurements, sanded with a particular grain of paper, affixed with the proper number of nails and ensure that the sign part is of at least 85% recycled paper.

    You know, so there's not a ban per se, just make it annoying enough to do that no one bothers doing it.

    Bold move, Steve Johnson, I like the cut of your gib.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Maybe he's just a HUGE fan of the Five Man Electrical Band?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This whole thing was bought and paid for by Big Sandwich Board.

  • Loki||

    Big Sign Spinners might have a hand in it as well.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    You all laugh. But you'll all be sorry when you find out that those signs are A COOKBOOK!!!!1!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Also, the lack of Community quotes on this post is very streets behind.

  • ||

    "Put me in the game, 'cause I'll take everyone out. I play paintball three times a week, bro."

  • ||

    BTW, I just discovered Community and am like three-quarters of the way through the first season. Envy me, bro.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "I'm even one of those douchebags that brings in his own equipment."

  • ||

    "The only thing that makes sense it this--learning, thoughts. So I can think. And get a student loan. And learn to grind my own coffee. And understand HBO."

  • SugarFree||

    "Why am I crying? Did I accidentally listen to 'Come Sail Away' by Styx again?"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Enough Teutonic punnery!"

  • SugarFree||

    "Your blood is tainted by generations of race-mixing with Laplanders."

  • NL_||

    "This semester I will guide you to the very threshold of humanity where you will lock eyes with the shrieking, blood drenched, sister-raping beasts from which we sprang. You will also have to make a diorama."

  • Anonymous Coward||

    "It has nothing to do with what was printed on those objects," he said, "but what those objects could be used for."

    Time to post TSA agents outside of the Arts Sciences building. And you'll need a security clearance before your first engineering class. And don't even think about getting into chemistry 101 without a strip search and an armed escort.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Okay, who do you have to dry hump to get an ampersand around here? I am a registered commenter and I will not be disrespected and denied my ampersands!

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I could break his ribs with a rolled up magazine. Better check the library for dangerous weapons.

  • Brett L||

    Jason Bourne, is that you?

  • BoscoH||

    This is a favorite argument of censorious administrators. 20 years ago, we were told we could not stage an anti-hunger-strike protest involving healthy food (FFS, who is against that?) across from the hunger strikers, as it might incite violence. I could have totally understood if we brought donuts, but we were going with a large, vegan salad to share with the community.

  • Brett L||

    How violent can people on a hunger strike be?

  • ||

    NOUN - VERB -COLUMBINE

  • ||

    "It has nothing to do with what was printed on those objects," he said, "but what those objects could be used for."

    With that line of reasoning, deaf people who know sign language should have their hands cut off since they can be balled up into fists and used to pummel other students.

  • ||

    For example, if I was carrying a protest sign and was in his vicinity when he made that remark, I would have been tempted to swing the sign and smack him upside his fool head.

    The wording on the sign, however, would not have harmed him in that hypothetical.

  • ||

    What if you spelled out the words on the protest sign using nails hammered through from the other side? Can we blame the words then?

  • ||

    I wonder, could we circulate a petition to have Mr. Johnson's hands amputated? After all, he might hit someone with them.

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