- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 15, 2000

At Georgetown University, a move is afoot to add tougher "hate crimes" amendments to the student code of conduct in the wake of a spate of recent, unfortunate incidents including the vandalization of a Menorah display, the taunting of gay students and the scribbling of racist graffiti around campus. These incidents have alarmed some students and faculty to the point where reason has become clouded. Rather than dismiss the hateful views of a relative handful of ne'er-do-wells the Anti-Defamation League said there were all of 86 reported incidents of anti-Semitism at the nation's campuses during 1998 the political correctness alarm bell has been rung.
Steve Glickman of Georgetown's Jewish Student Association wants "tangible goals from the administration… . with some approximate deadlines." Associate Professor of Theology Julia Lamm told The Washington Post, "Tolerance has to be more than this grudging acknowledgment of others. It needs to be a deeper attitude that is marked by generosity and civility." Translation: Anyone who deviates will be rounded up for re-education.
Bigotry is clearly repellent. Those who propound vicious philosophies should be denounced. And actual crimes against persons or property such as assault, vandalism, threats, etc. should be pursued as criminal matters. But to pounce on them with "hate crimes" statutes is to confer upon racists the dignity of a power they do not possess. A few misfits uttering foul slurs under their breath, telling offensive jokes or even producing racist tracts are just that: pathetic misfits. Their "ideas" are no threat. Until and unless they breach the line into action, they have a right to hold their views, however noxious, without fear of being labeled thought criminals.
College life ought to be about ideas, not speech codes. Hate crimes statutes and the like only force ugly sentiments underground, where they continue to fester. Exposing them to the light of day accomplishes two worthy objects. It subjects the propounder to scorn, derision and social ostracism (much more effective than speech codes) and renders the ideas themselves ridiculous and thus impotent. It is precisely by keeping them furtive and mysterious that speech codes and hate crimes statutes imbue them with power. College students are young and the young often find the lure of the forbidden immensely enticing.
Students and faculty at Georgetown should gather their breath and their wits and realize that it's not 1938 or 1968 and that the remnants of pernicious racialist philosophies can do little harm today, provided they aren't constantly reinvigorated by political correctness.

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