PHOTO: It is the week before finals week, affectionately called "Dead Week" at Oregon State University, and the student newspaper printed in one of their last issues my letter on free speech (Thomas Kraemer, "In response To June 1 Editorial," OSU Barometer, posted Jun. 2, 2015, printed Jun. 3, 2015. p. 7) adjacent to a student's comments on Bruce Jenner's MTF transition (Kayla King, "Minimal effort required in civility toward Caitlyn Jenner," OSU Barometer, Jun. 3, p. 7) and below a poignant column by Dr. Kathy Greaves, "Dr. Sex bids farewell, gives parting thoughts," OSU Barometer, Jun. 3, p. 7, concerning her problems with vicious comments about her work.
PHOTO: cover jacket of a very good book by Joyce Murdoch, Deb Price, "Courting justice: gay men and lesbians v. the Supreme Court," Basic Books, 2002 that includes a history of the "ONE v. Olesen" decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considered to be a landmark decision for gay rights.
The history of free speech movement, and the U.S. Supreme Court's pivotal role in upholding it, is very long and well documented elsewhere. Many Universities have been famously active in pushing the free speech movement forward, such as the University of California at Berkeley.
The following story and opinion piece printed in the Oregon State University student newspaper reminded me of the landmark free speech decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed gay rights activists to publish a magazine and mail it across the country:
- The Editorial Board, "Street preachers on campus need regulation," Oregon State University Barometer, Jun. 1, 2015, p. 2-3, 7-8 (I am very sympathetic to the student who is intimidated by the preacher.)
- "Ray addresses anonymous email, street preacher incidents," OSU "The Daily Barometer," Jun. 1, 2015, p. 2 (Note: OSU President Ed Ray)
Reading the above items prompted me to write the following letter to the editor of the OSU college newspaper:
Decades of United States Supreme Court rulings have upheld many of the solutions suggested in the Barometer's June 1 editorial, "Street preachers on campus need regulation." However, it should be noted the standard of censoring speech that causes some people a "disgust" or "panic attack" reaction was at the center of the 1958 "ONE v. Olesen" decision.
This stopped the U.S. government from censoring any mention of "homosexuality" as being "obscene speech" the Court still says today is not protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Scientific brain studies have found that men who are homophobic will often display disgust and panic attack symptoms when confronted with the mere idea of homosexuality.
Many gay men have observed this reaction firsthand and a few have tragically suffered from a physically violent "fag-bashing" by homophobic men.
In my opinion, the First Amendment rights of free speech require all citizens to endure speech they might find disgusting, except for speech that is libelous, slanderous or an imminent threat of physical violence.
Thomas Kraemer, Founder, Oregon State University Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund
Ironically, the editor censored my phrase "fag-bashing" to "f*g-bashing," as the editor has done consistently this year. Other minor edits, such as adding a period and paragraph, improved the readability of my letter, and changing ONE. Inc. to One, Inc. provides yet another example of a never ending battle between editors, who split hairs over acronyms versus abbreviations, and historians who use the spelling in original documents created by ONE. I hope students will learn about the legal differences between libel, slander and obscene speech and the famous British man Oscar Wilde who lost a libel case he brought against someone for calling him a sodomite (e.g. homosexual) because it was easily proven in court that Oscar was, in fact, a homosexual.