Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Intolerance for Intolerance

From the Los Angeles Times:

Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.

Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she’s a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.

Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she’s demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.


The legal argument is straightforward: Policies intended to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination end up discriminating against conservative Christians. Evangelicals have been suspended for wearing anti-gay T-shirts to high school, fired for denouncing Gay Pride Month at work, reprimanded for refusing to attend diversity training. When they protest tolerance codes, they’re labeled intolerant.

Yeah, and if they burned crosses, wore racist T-shirts, and denounced Black History month or denied the Holocaust, they’d also be labeled as intolerant, as well they should be.

The university’s tolerance policy is just a red herring. As Michael notes,

The Supreme Court has repeatedly allowed so-called “time, place, and manner” restrictions of the First Amendment right to free speech. I would argue that a college campus, by virtue of the fact that it exists primarily to enable its students to learn freely and without hindrance, is entitled to put in place reasonable regulations to ensure that no one–students, faculty members, staff, guests, or anybody who just happens to be wandering through at the time–can impede the learning experience for those who are serious about it. Imagine how Malhotra would feel if I were to turn up in her church next Sunday and start haranguing her on just what a perversion of Jesus’ message in the Gospels her pastiche of hatred and ignorance represents. The First Amendment gives me an unencumbered right to have and to express such an opinion. But her church also possesses a right not to be interrupted as it goes about its rituals. Ms. Malhotra should be willing to allow her fellow Techies that same courtesy.

Oh, by the way, Ms. Malhotra is also the president of the Georgia Tech College Republicans. That’s either an amazing coincidence or just another example of political exploitation by the Religious Reich.

Here’s Shakespeare’s Sister’s take on this story:

Whatever happened to the “activist judges” rhetoric? I guess you’ve got to hope for a “judiciary run amok” when you’re suing for your right to be a fucking asshole.