Yesterday I reported on the decision of Gene Nichol to resign immediately as president of The College of William & Mary when told by the Board of Visitors that his contract as president would not be renewed this summer. Nichol's said he'll remain at the college as a law professor .
Nichol also released a lengthy public statement you can read here. He attacked those who opposed him and presented himself as a martyr for causes he'd championed, including free speech.
I learned something I didn't know about yesterday until a W&M friend mentioned it: free speech advocate Gene Nichol supported something called the Bias Incident Reporting System.
The following is from Coyote Blog ----------
... [B]efore we go declaring Mr. Nichol a martyr for free speech, FIRE reminds us that less than six months ago Mr. Nichol spearheaded this far more comprehensive violation of free speech:
This earlier episode reveals that Mr. Nichol clearly does not believe that all speech is protected.
This fall, The College of William & Mary launched a Bias Incident Reporting System “to assist members of the William and Mary community—students, staff, and faculty—in bringing bias incidents to the College’s attention.” In its initial incarnation, the system was fraught with constitutional problems, from both free speech and due process standpoints. The system initially allowed for anonymous reporting, providing that “[a] person reporting online may report anonymously by leaving the personal information fields blank.”
The definition of “bias” was overbroad and encompassed constitutionally protected expression: “A bias incident consists of harassment, intimidation, or other hostile behavior that is directed at a member of the William and Mary community because of that person’s race, sex (including pregnancy), age, color, disability, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.”
The homepage for the system even contained an explicit misstatement about the First Amendment, stating that the First Amendment did not protect “expressions of bias or hate aimed at individuals that violate the college’s statement of rights and responsibilities.”
...a group calling itself “Free America’s Alma Mater” published an advertisement in William & Mary’s student newspaper, The Flat Hat, skewering the new program. “Welcome to the new William & Mary’s Bias Reporting System, where W&M now invites you to shred the reputation of your neighbors…anonymously,” the ad read. “Prof gave you a bad grade? Upset at that fraternity brother who broke your heart? Did a colleague vote against you for tenure?
Now you can get even!! Anonymously report anything that offends you to the William & Mary Thought Police at http://www.wm.edu/diversity/reportbias/.”
There's more to the Coyote Blog post, including a statement that the blogger, like Nichol, supported the showing of the Sex Workers Art Show on free speech grounds. The entire post is here. I hope you give it a look.
Coyote Blog has made a useful contribution to the discussion of Nichol's leadership at William & Mary
Also posting: See Michelle Malkin and trackbacks at her blog.