Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Conservative Political Correctness at Penn?

Could the conservative flap about Amy Gutmann and her photograph alongside a student in a "suicide bomber" costume end up backfiring? Toward the end of the Inside Higher Ed article Joe references below is a link to The Torch, the blog of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE, which has spent years defending individuals and groups on college campuses from speech codes and accusations of "insensitivity," wonders, I think rightly, whether this flap isn’t going to make their jobs harder. "Lest Halloween parties become the next frontier for the campus sensitivity police," writes FIRE senior program officer Tara Sweeney, "people need to recognize that Halloween is a good time for satire, and that sometimes a costume is just a costume."

As for those commenters at NLT who have defended Gutmann and the fellow in the costume, I hope they will remember their charitable attitude the next time an issue like this comes along.

Discussions - 6 Comments

To clarify my own position, I’m not insisting that students be prohibited from expressing themselves as insensitively as this one did, only that university officials refrain from appearing to endorse that sort of expression. Colleges and universities do have a responsibility to encourage civility and "good citizenship," but they can do so without ham-handedly enforcing speech codes.

"Lest Halloween parties become the next frontier..." "Next"? Excuse me.

Try getting admitted, let alone photographed, with a smiling Univ. President and you in your Nazi SS uniform, or your KKK sheet and hood, or wearing blackface and chomping on a watermelon.

Maybe one way to get the left to give up on political correctness is to beat them about the head with it at every oppurtunity.

I have a dislike of Amy Gutmann’s democratic theory work, and for various reasons that will not be aired here, she is definitely on the "naughty list" in terms of treating conservative/moderate academics fairly.

But folks, this kerfluffle is preposterous. An embarrassment to the conservative blogosphere. Her statement should settle the matter--she didn’t take full cognizance of the costume until after her picture had been taken.

Just how stupid does the President of UPenn have to be to look at a Syrian student wearing fake dynamite and carrying a toy Kalashnikov, and "not take full cognizance" of it? If a student walked in wearing a KKK Grand Dragon outfit, carrying a hangman’s noose, I daresay would have taken full cognizance of it quite quickly. If a student walked in, as noted above, in blackface with a watermelon under each arm, likewise she would surely have taken cognizance.

The fact of the matter is, this shows that the President of UPenn is in sympathy with suicide bombers who murder Jews in Israel.

That’s what this shows. That’s the reality of it. Why is that so hard to understand?

I know Gutmann is in sympathy with terrorists. I heard her at a Mediterranean restaurant telling someone that she loved HAMAS. She said she liked to spread it on pita bread, whatever that means.

I don’t object to the costuming or decor at either party.

I have worn all manner of costumes for Halloween, including SS trooper when I was 10.

On of the mothers in our neighborhood was horrified, but her husband pointed out that you’re supposed to dress as a MONSTER, after all. And in this neighborhood if I had been an actual anti-semite I would probably have had the snot kicked out of me.

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