Massachusetts College decides to criticize Chinese government for hate speech, suspends group of conservative students



of highly educated-but-apparently-weak-common-sense department

A college did something stupid and unconstitutional. Not that surprisingly. The answer either, from Adam Steinbaugh and FIRE (Foundation for Rights in Education).

Emerson College may be a private university, but that doesn’t mean it can just ignore the First Amendment. In fact he says so habit ignore these rights, forcing it to enforce them. It is Emerson College in its own words (archived link in case the college decides to make it disappear):

As an institution dedicated to communication and the arts, the First Amendment to the US Constitution is of great significance. The right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of belief and political affiliation, freedom from discrimination, freedom of peaceful assembly and to seek redress or grievances n t is not just a right but a community responsibility.


The College encourages students to present ideas, express their individuality and culture, and be open to thoughts or lifestyles that are different from their own.

Truly inspiring. And Emerson College truly respects that right. Except when it isn’t.

Emerson College suspended a section of the campus of conservative student group Turning Point USA on October 1 after members distributed stickers criticizing the Chinese government.

The “conservative group” was Turning United States, one created and run by hapless human being Charlie Kirk and backed by people who think Charlie Kirk actually has something useful to offer anyone.

No matter what people think of TPUSA (including me!), This answer is not only exaggerated, but completely ignores the content of the stickers that Emerson (and some of his students) have been investigating.

Under pressure from other student groups who accused TPUSA of anti-Asian bias and xenophobia, including the Emerson Chinese Student Association, the college launched an investigation into the group. In an Instagram video, the TPUSA chapter noted the stickers criticize the Chinese government, not the Chinese people.

On October 1, the leaders of the TPUSA section received a letter by Julie Rothhaar-Sanders, director of community standards for Emerson, saying the college has launched a formal investigation into TPUSA under Emerson’s policies on bias behavior and invasion of privacy. While the investigation is active, TPUSA faces “interim action”, meaning the group is prohibited from normal activities, such as organizing events or reserving space on campus for individuals. meetings.

Is it really “anti-Asian bias” and / or “xenophobia”? This is the sticker in question, which refers a famous meme that originated in a multiplayer game:

If you can’t see the photo, it shows a little “Among Us” astronaut dressed in red with a hammer and sickle badge. Underneath is the phrase “China Kinda Sus”. “Sus” being the abbreviation of “suspect”.

In particular he does not say “chinese people are known “or”Orientals are sus “or anything else suggesting that this sticker refers to anything but the country and, by extension, its government.

Is China a little known? Be the judge. This refuses to recognize Taiwan as a country, transformed the Hong Kong government into an extension of its own after the months of pro-democracy protests, subjects its citizens to intrusive and pervasive surveillance, censors its citizens and companies providing Internet services, and is engaged in the continued persecution of certain minorities. It’s all pretty “sus”.

Still, the college chose to believe it was in fact an offensive thing to say and bypassed its own stated support to protect First Amendment rights to limit TPUSA activities on campus.

This led FIRE and Adam Steinbaugh to remind the college of the First Amendment protections and the college’s promise to uphold those rights. It’s from FIRE letter [PDF]:

Stickers distributed in Emerson and elsewhere criticize the Chinese government. They follow a long tradition of student protests on US college campuses criticizing foreign nations, whether those opposing South African apartheid or, more recently, the government of Israel.

Free speech implies the right to criticize not only our own government, but also those of foreign nations, even when such criticism is offensive to the “dignity” of those states or threatens to upset “the vital national interest.”[s.]”

Even though the college is concerned about its obligations under Title VII, which requires it to investigate and respond to allegations of hostile student environments, this sticker is not.

First, the discourse is not based on race, ethnicity, or national origin. The stickers do not invoke or convey any stereotypes associated with people of Chinese descent or descent. Instead, the stickers are critical rhetoric towards the Chinese government. The stickers use the familiar emblem of the country’s only ruling party, superimposed on a video game character wearing the same red color as the Chinese flag. The text on the sticker (“China kinda sus”) refers to the name of the country, not its people. Criticism of a foreign government is not inherently criticism of the people it claims to represent, even though people of origin, descendant, or support of that particular nation find this criticism personally offensive.

Second, even assuming that the message of the stickers can be interpreted as speech based on race, ethnicity or national origin, it does not reach the level of peer harassment as correctly defined by the law.

If Emerson wants to stay out of the Defendant’s business, he will drop this investigation and reinstate the rights and privileges of TPUSA. If he prefers to continue to pretend that criticism of a foreign government is somehow harassment of the student body, he should probably warn his legal advice department that he will have to defend the indefensible in the near future.

Oh, and while you could argue that the combination of TPUSA and its stickers was problematic, Emerson took it all up a notch when his Twitter account started “hiding.” any tweet referring to China, including images of Winnie the Pooh. In case you don’t remember, China has a long-standing policy of censoring Winnie the Pooh images because its president, Xi Jinping, vaguely resembles the fictional bear.

So, yes, an American university was literally hiding tweets in the identical way than the Chinese government, to avoid upsetting the Chinese president. Of course, this only resulted in many more posts on Winnie the Pooh, almost all of which were posted by Emerson College. to hide. This too blocked users who tweeted images of Winnie the Pooh. A little known, in fact. And really, fails to keep the promise of a college that “encourages students to present ideas, to express their individuality and culture, and to be open to thoughts or lifestyles that are different from their own.”

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, charlie kirk, china, freedom of speech, hate speech, a little bit known, massachusetts, winnie the pooh, xi jinping
Companies: emerson college


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