Scott Tibbs
Submitted to the Indianapolis Star, November 14, 2003

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Hysterical reactions to the "affirmative action bake sale"

To the Editor:

On November 5, Indiana University students held an "affirmative action bake sale" to protest preferences based on race, gender and other immutable characteristics. It was a simple tactic, but this illustrative example helped highlight the issue of affirmative action and sparked a healthy discussion on the topic.

Sadly, at least one IU student did not feel that such a dialogue should take place. Junior Rahsaan Bartet filed a complaint with the university asking them to shut down the bake sale before it took place. He claimed that the bake sale represented a hostile environment toward minorities and "could easily turn violent".

The request that the event be censored because of the potential (which never materialized) of a violent reaction is particularly illogical. Does a state university have the right to practice censorship because the individuals exercising their free speech rights could be attacked? By that justification, any speech, from any perspective, could be censored by a threat of violence.

I commend Indiana University for rejecting Bartet's hysterical demand and standing by the First Amendment. I would remind IU that as a state university funded by tax dollars, they are obligated to take this stand. The Indiana Legislature should carefully watch our state universities to make sure that violations of free speech rights do not take place, and should use the power of the purse strings to protect Constitutional liberty.