Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Free Speech Gets A Reprieve at Tufts

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Free Speech Gets A Reprieve at Tufts

Article excerpt

Tufts University's main campus is so close to Boston -- the birthplace of the American Revolution that insisted man's right to liberty is inalienable -- you can get there by taking the Red Line on the "T" subway. On Monday, one of those liberties, the right to free expression, came back to campus after a shameful few summer weeks off.

Tufts' dean of undergraduate education, James Glaser, threw out a ruling by a student/faculty group called the Committee on Student Life that would have forced The Prime Source, a conservative-leaning student magazine, to run bylines on all its articles and editorials.

That edict was the committee's sanction for the magazine's supposed "harassment" of African American and Muslim students when it published two separate pieces in the last school year.

Like many another publication written by young, privileged ideology-besotted students who just don't understand why the world and so many of their peers on campus cannot see how much better we would all be if we ran society guided by textbooks such as Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" or William F. Buckley's "God and Man at Yale," The Primary Source appears to be long on certitude, but short on empathy and, in its particular case, a sense of humor. Let's put it this way -- The Primary Source's "funny" stuff that I've seen makes Ann Coulter look like Dorothy Parker.

The article that offended African American students included witless "parodies" of Christmas carols mocking affirmative action. Muslim students asserted they were mortified by a later mock advertisement that was the kind of anti-Islam rant you can hear on any talk radio show.

For all its anti-P.C. bravado, the magazine wisely backed off the parody piece in the face of campus furor, apologizing and withdrawing it from its Web site. But the magazine rightfully argued that neither that piece nor the Islam "ad" amounted to harassment.

While Tufts, as a private university, was certainly within its rights to impose whatever silly rules it wants on its students, the spectacle of a respected institution of higher learning -- rated 27th best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report last year -- trampling on a long American tradition of unsigned editorials, and punishing offensive speech to protect the tender egos of students who supposedly are being taught intellectual rigor and discernment was, well, disappointing. …

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