Monday, March 30, 2015

Chelsi P. Henry ― SAE and 'Free Speech'

Conservative columnist and attorney Chelsi P. Henry on the right to be wrong


(Ebony Magazine)

Earlier this month, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter exploded with reactions to students from the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity reciting a racist song. The college students were freely singing, “There will never be a n**** in SAE… You can hang them from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me.”
The video went viral in minutes. Social media was overloaded with tweets, posts, videos, interviews, and blogs from legal experts, students, social justice activists, and everyday Americans.

In the back of my mind, I thought: What do their conversations sound like on a regular basis, when there is no camera recording? Have any of these students being paying attention to news over the last year? This was just a snippet that was caught on tape as the brothers and their dates were headed to celebrate their Founders Day.

Within 24 hours the national chapter of SAE closed the chapter and suspended the members. University of Oklahoma President David Boren first reaction to the video: “I was sickened.”  Then, in a rather bold and clear statement, Boren seemingly unilaterally suspended the two students leading the chant, condemning “their leadership role in leading a racist and exclusionary chant.”

Without hesitancy, Oklahoma’s SAE chapter alumni board hired Stephen Jones, the attorney that defended Timothy McVeigh in the 1996 Oklahoma City bombing. It is still undetermined whether Jones will file suit, but it is not unlikely knowing the history between Boren and Jones.
Just yesterday, former OAU student and SAE member Levi Pettit issued an apology for his actions, flanked by people of color.

While their comments were racist and disturbing, let’s take a look at the First Amendment and Constitutional issues before us.

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