Julia’s creepy 33 year-old boyfriend Rob is not pleased with Noah’s misidentification of him as Nazi Robert Lindstrom.

Noah has made the accusation that I am a nazi. Noah doesn’t know my family’s history or understand why that is insulting, but should be warned that those are fighting words. While it is easy to post thoughtless insults on blogs so you can “win” irrelevant arguments and show how clever you are with ad hominems, if you say something like that to me in person next time I’m on campus, it is likely that I’ll respond to such libelous insults with violence.

Good to know!

Calling someone a Nazi = “fighting words.” Putting a poster of Hitler on someone’s door = “nothing event”. Let me ponder those equations for a few moments . . .

But the real news is that, according to EphBlog surveillance cameras placed all around Hopkins Hall, Julia is due to receive her “punishment” from Dean Roseman today. Confirmations of this poorly sourced rumor are welcome.

My hope is that Dean Roseman is smart enough to realize that the appropriate punishment for Julia is nothing. (Long time readers will also wonder why Roseman is so eager to punish Julia while doing nothing to stop students from participating in the St. Anthony Hall fraternity.) As discussed in the QBE controversy, the College has few ground for punishing such students (which is a good thing). The student handbook is clear.

Williams College does not discriminate on grounds unrelated to its educational objectives; it is committed to being a community in which all ranges of opinion and belief can be expressed and debated, and within which all patterns of behavior permitted by the public law and College regulations can take place. The community is varied, including people of diverse races, religions, national or ethnic backgrounds, gender expressions and gender identities, and sexual orientations, and its members may from time to time disagree with one another’s ideas and behavior. The College seeks to assure the rights of all to express themselves in words and actions, so long as they can do so without infringing upon the rights of others or violating standards of good conduct or public law.

The College can not punish students for speech, however immature/hateful/obnoxious that speech might be. It can not punish Julia for postering doors while allowing, even praising, the WCJA for doing so. I am all in favor of having a dean scream (literally) at Julia and turn her into a blubbering mess. (Are there any deans at Williams with the ability/desire to the play the bad cop like that? There should be.) But the College can not use its formal powers to punish Julia (no “warning letter” or anything else that becomes a permanent part of Julia’s record at Williams) while, at the same time, not punishing the students behind the Holocaust Remembrance Day posters. If Roseman is so foolish as to issue such a punishment, and Julia wants to fight it, free-speech-absolutist alums (like me) will have no choice but to fight at Julia’s side. First they came for Mary Jane Hitler, but I was not . . .

Let’s hope that it won’t come to that.

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