The Great, Late, American Right To Offend
by Jared Taylor:
It`s official: at the
Grady College of Journalism of the University of
Georgia (UGA), it is possible to be guilty of making a
sexual advance without even knowing it.
Thus has the university passed
judgment, and the dean of the journalism school, John
resigned rather than face punishment.
The facts in the case are clear.
Dean Soloski was about to leave a black-tie affair in
Atlanta to meet a woman for dinner. On his way out, he
woman who works on his staff and complimented her on
her dress. He was concerned for her—Atlanta
dodgy neighborhoods—and asked if she was alone.
That was the extent of the
exchange. The woman, with whom he had worked for three
years and considered a friend, neither replied nor acted
offended, but in May she filed an official complaint,
claiming he had made sexual advances.
UGA`s office of legal affairs swung
instantly into action and decided that, sure enough,
"it was reasonable, given the totality of circumstances,
for the complainant to believe that sexual advances were
being directed towards her." [Investigation
at UGA cites dean`s comments, Athens Banner-Herald,
By Jennifer Moore, June 29, 2005]
This created "a
hostile or offensive working environment" in
violation of UGA`s policy.
The sleuths conceded that Dean
Soloski probably was not putting moves on the woman, but
offered the terrifying explanation that "it is
important to understand that one may violate the policy
without having the intent to make a sexual advance."
Never mind that after working with
a woman for three years, it is apparently possible to
create "a hostile or offensive environment" in
about ten seconds. Never mind that the investigators
were sure the dean was guilty but couldn`t decide
whether he was hostile or offensive (only at a
university could anyone think an implied invitation was
The enormity of the ruling boils
down to this: All that matters is
what the lady thought. At Georgia, a man can be
guilty of propositioning a woman without even knowing
Since Mr. Soloski—the poor boy is
said to be an authority on
libel law—has resigned, effective June 29, the
college cannot punish him further. But he must submit to
"sexual harassment training." This is sure to be
Welcome to the wonderful world of
guilt-by-subjective-impression. If anyone in the
protected classes—and we know who they are—can persuade
UGA investigators there was some possible reason to take
offense, then offense was given even if none was
wicked white heterosexual men, intent does not
matter; only their "victims" claims of bruised
Despicable though the system is at
UGA—a university can invent just about any cuckoo crime
it wants—the rules the government has set for the rest
of us are only one degree less despicable.
To get a federal case on his hands,
Mr. Soloski would have had to say something like
"How about a quickie?" and if he denied it,
there would probably have to be witnesses.
"How about a quickie" would
be boorish, but boorishness should not be a crime. It is
a private matter in which the government has no right to
take an interest.
And, at least for the time being,
the government does still ignore certain kinds of
boorishness. You can tease an employee mercilessly about
being fat or ugly or an opera-lover, but it`s best not
to even notice if someone is black, Jewish, a woman,
Muslim or homosexual.
These days, with the courts taking
"national origin" seriously, it`s best not to
notice if someone is an
immigrant or has an
accent. Just mention any of this and you could have
"a hostile or offensive work environment."
Government should be concerned with
manners, and if a man tells a woman "Give me sex
or you don`t get a promotion," it is bad manners but
not a crime. A boss should be free to ask anything he
likes in return for a promotion: kickbacks, maid
service, yard work, groceries. It`s up to employees to
decide if their conditions of employment are acceptable.
They can quit if they don`t like them.
Everyone should always have an
absolute legal right to be offensive,
intolerant, or downright nasty. If a nasty boss is
chasing away workers, the company can kick him out. If a
worker is nasty, the boss can fire him. None of this
should ever be the government`s business.
If people assault each other, that
is a different matter. But what they say to each
other is free speech.
The government first started
policing manners as part of the now-obligatory
ultra-sensitiveness about race, but the problem has
And Americans will wake up.
John Soloski is just one of many
casualties in the American war on fundamental rights:
the right to discriminate, the right to choose
associates, and even the right to compliment a woman.
The very absurdity of his
plight—though awful for him—is good for the rest of us.
The further our country marches
down the road to nowhere, the clearer it becomes even to
dullards that we are going in the wrong direction.
him) is editor of
and the author of
Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race
Relations in Contemporary America.
(For Peter Brimelow`s review, click