colleges

George Washington University Students Take A Stand For Free Speech

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This past October, George Washington University (GWU) campus police forced a student, sophomore Ramie Abounaja, to remove the Palestinian flag he had flying outside his dormitory window, citing complaints from other students. Abounaja complied but then a week later received a letter from administrators warning that subsequent complaints could lead to disciplinary action. Campus officials have stated that no object, including flags, are allowed to be hung outside of on-campus residential halls for safety reasons.

However, noting that other flags have long freely hung from GWU housing, students have rallied around Abounaja claiming he was the victim of selective and discriminatory application of the housing code. While GW President, Steven Knapp, has since apologized to Abounaja, students say it is not enough. On Friday, supporters rallied in a park near campus by bringing their own flags to wave, citing it as a fundamental right of free expression. Tarek Kouddous, supporter of Abounaja and organizer of the rally says, "If we do not speak out against this kind of structural behavior, this mentality could carry onto other facets of student life."

But do other college students support free speech? Reason TV's Zach Weissmueller went to Occidental College to ask students what they think about free speech and microagressions:

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  1. Didn’t we comment on this several days ago ?

  2. So let me get the chronology of this non-issue straight:

    1.) Student lives in campus housing.

    2.) Student violates fire code.

    3.) Student receives letter informing him that he is violation of the fire code.

    4.) Student and allies shout that fire code warnings are an insidious Zionist plot.

    5.) University president makes an obsequious mewling apology to special Palestinian snowflake.

    6.)Student seems to be satisfied; allies are not, demand the head of the najis kafir on a pike.

    1. why do you hate free speech?

    2. Well, other than leaving out the part where lots of people are violating the fire code without the university caring enough to take enforcement action, yep, you’ve summed it up.

      1. Then Reason should direct their outrage at lax fire code enforcement, rather than some supposed free speech violation.

        Are you claiming the university just made up the fire code as an excuse to squelch pro-Palestinian expression?

        1. It is known as selective enforcement. It is a common tool used to harass the wrong kinds of people.

          1. It’s only “selective” if it is the university itself that’s doing the selecting. The request to take down the flag was prompted by several complaints, of which I assume came from students. Abounaja et al. are the ones who assumed these complaints stemmed from some sort of ethnic/religious animus, as opposed to, perhaps, a pyrophobic martinet rule-book clinger. If the city sent me a letter requesting that my shed be removed from my property as recent complaints have led them to investigate my alleged violation of zoning regulations; my first thought would be “Man, my neighbor is an asshole.” not “Man, my neighbor is a racist/antisemitic/lactose intolerant asshole.”

            And now all the students who did have flags and chill dorm-mates are going to have to take their flags down thanks to said special snowflake and his sense of paranoia.

            1. I agree with your main point, but it’s nearly certain that the complainers complained due to the nature of the flag, not because of fire safety concerns.

              1. but it’s nearly certain that the complainers complained due to the nature of the flag,

                Other than an ipse dixit proclamation, do you have any evidence of that? Unlike Kouddous and Abounaja, I don’t claim to have telepathy.

                1. Tulpy-Poo doesn’t need, evidence, HM. He just knows.

                  1. Tulpy-Poo doesn’t need, evidence, HM. He just knows.

                    Again, had this been any other flag than perhaps the Confederate Battle Flag, it would have been seen as the non-issue it is. In the linked article, the university claims the officer had no idea what the flag was when he issued the ticket, as it was based on student report. And Abounaja states that he was satisfied with Knapp’s explanation that it was all a misunderstanding. However, that’s not good enough for Kouddous and others, who know…deep down in their hearts…that is this all a Zillumimason Lizard Person plot.

                2. It’s a controversial item, and other similar items have not been complained about, so drawing that conclusion seems reasonable. Cartesian skepticism is great for debate club, but in the real world you won’t make it out of the crib if you actually employ it.

                  1. and other similar items have not been complained about

                    Unless you are writing this from your desk within GWU’s Office of Public Safety, outside of some partisan reporting, you don’t know if that’s true or not.

          2. Then criticize the selectivity, don’t criticize the enforcement.

            1. Hi, I’m a libertarian and I love when institutions enforce petty rules for the state.

              1. Let’s be fair. GWU is a private institution and the regulation against hanging a flag outside of one’s window may be a regulation developed by the institution’s office of residence life or safety, as opposed to municipal fire code. A private college like GWU has every right to put stipulations on how its student housing can be used.

                1. Agreed, I’m also unfamiliar with any fire code that prohibits exterior banners on a building of that type. There are very stringent codes on interior finishes, but exterior is more open. Anyway, I’d like to see a citation on the rule used.

              2. The fire code is a petty rule? Do you have any idea how flammable a flag in a window is?

                Let me show ya sumthin…

    3. I thought that was kind of weird too. Apparently they are demanding that people be allowed to hang shit out the window because not to do so would be racist.

  3. I wake up with a hangover and this is the first thing I watch, ugh.

    1. I woke up with a hangover and watched Bullit. Damn, Jacqueline Bisset was a babe.

      1. As if he’ll be actually given an opportunity to speak. The last one i think he racked up….what, 2-3mins? compared to like 20 for others. The GOP seems to think its better to put him on stage and simply ignore him, than lock him out of debates and give him reason to complain.

        1. Well if Paul tries to ignore the other candidates as well and get some good sound bytes in that will only work in his favor. Try not to attack Trump and get your own positive story out.

        2. The party doesn’t decide how much time the candidates get. They have very little control over what happens at the debate, actually.

        3. Last time he got more speaking time than JEB! did. Plus after Paris and San Berdoo I think he’ll have it out with Christie and JEB! about the NSA.

          1. Really? I haven’t watched any of them yet and just based that on vague memories from the 20000comment megathreads during the debates

      2. It makes zero sense to humor Fiorina, Kaisch and Christie and not Rand Paul so that’s absolutely the correct decision.

        Either cull the field to just the top 5 or let Rand in since he’ll probably get into another fight with Fatass and Rubio on civil liberties and defense spending.

  4. A free speech rally at a GWU. Hmmm. I am guessing it is only because the right kind of person was shut down.
    Anyone try flying an Israeli flag? A Gadsden flag?

    My guess is that these same people will be shrieking to have that taken down.

    1. …. yeah, thanks for beating me to the same point by 30 seconds.

  5. I’m going to take a wild guess that there weren’t a lot of Confederate Flags being flown alongside the Star of David and the Gadsen Flag at that particular “Free Speech” rally.

    Are they really making a stand for “Free Speech”? or were they rushing to demand special treatment of protected victim-class by ginning up a fake-narrative of oppression? I can’t really tell.

    also, this? =

    “*The goal of this initiative does not take a political stance with any single actor or entity. If we do not speak out against this kind of structural behavior, this mentality could carry onto other facets of student life.”

    ….just reminds me of how god-awful and tortured student-writing/thinking is. They upgrade their vocabulary, but they still can’t write a coherent sentence.

    1. Already taken care of:

      http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/25477/

      I’m almost certain this wouln’t pass Constitutional scrutiny.

      1. Depends.

        A high school managed to ban confederate flag displays, and it was affirmed on appeal

        “. The district court found that school officials reasonably concluded that displaying the Confederate flag would cause substantial disruptions at school within the meaning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s seminal student-speech decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969).

        Tinker established a standard ? that school officials can punish student expression only if they can reasonably forecast that such student expression will cause a substantial disruption or material interference with school activities.”

        The lawyer for the plaintiffs noted that the burden of proving “reasonable forecasts of substantial disruptions” is basically a empty standard, as all schools have to do is say, “there have been incidents of disruptions in the past”… which may have nothing to do with the ‘banned speech’ at all. It simply ends up deferring to authorities to arbitrarily determine what is ‘likely’ to disrupt.

        in that case you mention, the displays aren’t even “public” necessarily. But i can imagine that ‘mere knowledge such displays exist’ would be enough for a school to freak the fuck out and call it ‘incitement’.

        1. Not so sure, the rules are different for K-12, different standard is applied, compared to adults in institutions of higher learning that are publically funded.

        2. “Tinker established a standard ? that school officials can punish student expression only if they can reasonably forecast that such student expression will cause a substantial disruption or material interference with school activities.””

          by that rule a school in Texas, say San Antonio, that is majority Hispanic, the student body can prevent the American flag being flown while allowing the Mexican flag . They have done now several times but just on Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican American beer Holiday. so far.

          1. “…a Mexican American beer Holiday.”

            *laughs*

          2. Beer holidays are THE BEST holidays.

    2. Student life. You’re fucking adults, university enrollees. Try to act like one.

      1. You entirely miss the point of ?$60,000/yr post adolescent daycare, as well as the intentions of the top dollar rent-seeking administrators, paid to wipe their noses and asses..

  6. Students pay money (acquire student loan debt) to incapacitate themselves in the world outside of the micro-aggression microcosm safe haven of places such as Oxy. Wow. No wonder they want it all for free.
    Btw, if using the word *oriental* is a micro-aggression, why isn’t *occidental*? Sounds like they’re in for a name change.

  7. That cunt with the flower shirt on needs to wipe the dirt off his chin.

  8. Meh. This is too easy. Student has a Palestinian flag. Of course the leftist students come to the rescue. That has nothing to do with standing up for free speech. It’s merely the expected lockstep behavior that fits the narrative. Poor Palestinian, member of oppressed class, needs rescuing. If this had been a rebel flag, a Joo flag, or even an American flag or gadsen flag, it would have had the opposite effect.

    1. Oh, but let’s go ahead and declare another libertarian moment anyway.

      1. Why must you be the screen door in Reason’s submarine?

        1. Someone has to knock the cosmos off their fluffy cloud.

          1. On the last thread devoted to this topic, we had commenters breathlessly telling us that pro-Israeli forces are so powerful on most American campuses that they regularly shut down discussions of, say, how Jews kill Palestinian children in order to knead their blood into matzah.

            I wonder how large the quantum singularity that obviously exists within one of the core routers of the Internet backbone that allows messages from a parallel universe to filter through.

            And I wonder what is Superman’s origin story there.

            1. You’re such a pants shitter HM. These people just want to immigrate to an enlightened western society and live the American dream. Just ignore their fucked out savage ideology. Its not like they are committing any real crimes, like not baking cakes for gay weddings. They just want peace, integration, subjugation and to shit kick a couple preteen clitoris’s on the way in. No need for your racist rhetoric.

              1. Its not like they are committing any real crimes

                Well, until they get to the FGM, they haven’t.

    2. *scrolls up*

      Hmmm. Good point.

  9. These people are just one big cargo cult. They cargo cult the civil rights movement. They cargo cult rape victims. They cargo cult intelligent conversational hand motions. They cargo cult what they think is a serious persons voice inflections.

    Its like if you grabbed a video camera and told a 6 year old in a business suit to act like an adult. What you would end up with is the above video, sans business suit and more flower shirt and dyke baseball cap.

    1. “These people are just one big cargo cult.”

      No shit. I have thought that all along and tried to express it but not in those words. That is perfect. Thank you.

    2. ts like if you grabbed a video camera and told a 6 year old in a business suit to act like an adult. What you would end up with is the above video, sans business suit and more flower shirt and dyke baseball cap.

      You hit the nail on the head, except instead of trying to emulate an adult, they’re trying to emulate the protest movement of the 60’s.

  10. “In a way its free speech but in a way its a hate crime”

    -Let that one sink in. We argue about the validity of hate crimes in the criminal justice system. With these people, not only is it a given, but they’re applying it to speech. Speech they don’t agree with is a crime. They are not for free speech they are for pre approved speech. There is no difference between college student outrage at free speech and religious outrage at blasphemy. Its all religion.

    1. “Speech they don’t agree with is a crime. They are not for free speech they are for pre approved speech.”

      Remember this gem?

      “I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here. I think that it’s important for us to create that distinction and create a space where we can all learn from one another and start to create a place of healing rather than a place where we are experiencing a lot of hate like we have in the past.” – Mizzou student body vice president Brenda Smith-Lezama

      Marxists definitely have a religious mind set. They have faith in a system that has a perfect record of failure.

      1. I don’t really get why they keep subscribing to this failed ideology. Its got to be one of these

        1.) Teenage rebellion against the current system/mommy and daddy.
        2.) Social signaling to show that they are enlightened and not like those rednecks. They are right thinking people.
        3.) Everybody loves an underdog.

        I’m guessing #1&2

        1. They are two dimensional thinkers and dullards, thus they are navigating through life with their emotions. They don’t think rationally. They can’t grasp complex concepts or nuanced differences between similar concepts. This is why not a week ago one suggested to me that price controls on gasoline would be a spiffy policy. When I described what happened the last time that happened and what the current situation in Venezuela is like it made no difference to her. She was completely ignorant about both and really dug her heels in.

          The reason they keep subscribing is pretty banal: They are idiots.

          1. And yet they’re in college. Why? I get why they might want to be in college. But, why the hell do colleges let these kids in? And I’m not talking just Podunk State. Top colleges and universities let these kids in. I know kids who don’t go to college who are capable of more rational analysis and rigorous thought than these kids.

            I half expect that one day we’re going to see a press conference of our the presidents of our nation’s top colleges and universities where they announce “Haha, guys! We were just joking. These aren’t the kids who’re college material.”.

            1. Why doesn’t the admin and faculty push back against them? I don’t know how you stop them from coming in. It seems like these “kids” are the majority now. They have enough clout to get college presidents to step down. You can’t do that if you are a fringe group at a campus. I will be encouraging my step son to go into the trades or vetting which schools he wants to go to. This college culture is unacceptable.

              1. Why doesn’t the admin and faculty push back against them?

                Because they’re living vicariously through them. The admin and faculty see this as the second coming of the civil rights movement, and most tend to think that the people getting targeted deserve it.

                1. “Because they’re living vicariously through them”

                  -Exactly. The admin and faculty are just the previous generation of this ideology. The end game is the same end game that has played out multiple times. Suppression of wrong think. We’ll see how long it takes for the violent oppression of ideas to start.

            2. Hurts, read Thomas Sowell’s ‘Intellectuals and Society’. It is well worth the time it takes.

              It will all make perfect sense.

              1. I have it loaded on my kindle app. I haven’t read it yet but will now. Thanks for the suggestion.

            3. Also, they aren’t invading academia, they are the product of academia.

              1. they are the product of academia

                This is very important. Academia, like any cloistered setting, produces ideas that don’t withstand the test of reality.

                The problem these days is that there are no longer many educated people who haven’t been touched by academia. Between public primary school and near-mandatory secondary school, the ideology of academia is entrenched in almost all children by adulthood.

                Back in the day, farmers, laborers, and other simple folk were well-read, and quite isolated from the big city academia that is pervasive today. These days, those simple folk are just as exposed to academia as their urban and suburban counterparts.

              2. Academia has its own eco system of shitty ideas that relies on indoctrination to survive. Colleges are becoming less like institutions that teach and more like progressive Neverlands.

                1. “And yet they’re in college. Why? I get why they might want to be in college. But, why the hell do colleges let these kids in? ”

                  $$$$$.$$

                  They are all protecting and growing their financial base. 2/3 of these kids should not be in college at all. But the advantages of higher ed have been vastly oversold by the media and college administrators.

          2. This is a big reason I want to stop the assault on free speech. Facts aren’t enough to stop the kind of thinking you described. It has to be fact mixed with ridicule. I think ridicule is really what they want to outlaw. They don’t have the agency to push back against the ridicule they face from family/friends/culture so instead of growing up and facing their backwards ideology, they try to shut down speech. Its a very primitive and childish attitude.

          3. They are two dimensional thinkers and dullards, thus they are navigating through life with their emotions. They don’t think rationally. They can’t grasp complex concepts or nuanced differences between similar concepts.

            I could write a tome on this. I’m a people watcher, and I’m especially fascinated by people who are driven by their emotions.

            Why don’t people think rationally about politics? Because politics has become identity, and you don’t question your identity. Studies have shown that only about 15% of voters can describe a consistent ideology. This isn’t consistent as in consistent principles. This is consistent as in coming to the same conclusion for the same reasons 6 months later.

            Why is this important? Because all the evidence points to the fact that people just make shit up as they go. They may be able to come to a repeated conclusion, but there is literally nothing behind that conclusion except their feelings.

            Anyway, all this to say that people don’t have the discipline to think critically, as shown by the evidence. Study.

            1. Wow that study is really, really old.

  11. So Confederate flags are OK too?

  12. I doubt the Palestinian flag presents any fire danger on an American campus.

  13. It’s easy to defend freedom of speech when you are defending popular speech. Defending unpopular speech is what separates the men from the boys, and the women from the girls.

    “In 1977 Frank Collin, the leader of National Socialist Party of America, announced the party’s intention to march through Skokie, Illinois. In the predominantly Jewish community, one in six residents was a Holocaust survivor[citation needed]. Originally, the NSPA had planned a political rally in Marquette Park in Chicago; however the Chicago authorities blocked these plans by requiring the NSPA to post a public safety insurance bond and by banning political demonstrations in Marquette Park.

    On behalf of the NSPA, the ACLU challenged the injunction issued by the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois that prohibited marchers at the proposed Skokie rally from wearing Nazi uniforms or displaying swastikas. The ACLU was represented by civil rights attorney Burton Joseph.[1][2] The challengers argued that the injunction violated the First Amendment rights of the marchers to express themselves.”

    1. I just want it to let be known that I hate with complete absolution Nazi’s, Socialists, Fascists, and Communists. However I do not want their speech infringed upon.

      “In order to identify the smell of shit, you have to know what shit smells like.”

      Me.

  14. Do students enjoy free speech rights at any campus , yes or no?
    I think that the answer is no .

  15. Would they be screaming about free speech rights had it been a Confederate flag? An Israeli flag? Just curious…and I think I know the answer.

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