COLUMBUS (TDB) -- A group that portrays itself as a national watchdog against college administrators who get carried away in efforts to erase potentially offensive remarks from the English language is now on the warpath against Ohio State University. It contends OSU's attempt to crack down on ethnic jokes has even banned humorous references to dumb blondes. No mention of absent-minded professor jokes.
( Say, did you the one hear about the absent minded professor who was riding a train. The conductor asked for his ticket. The professor couldn't find it. The conductor said, "Don't worry, I'll let you go, no problem." The professor replied, "I gotta find it. Or I won't know where to get off.")
F.I.R.E. -- the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education -- has proclaimed OSU's diversity statement for residence halls its "Speech Code of the Month." That's not a good thing -- it's a pejorative meaning OSU has gone overboard with guidelines about verboten topics of conversation in a campus dormitory.
Here's the complete text of the diversity statement(PDF) issued by the Office of University Housing. FIRE's ire is aimed at a provision that specifically instructs OSU students:
"Do not joke about differences related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, ability, socioeconomic background, etc."
FIRE said those words eliminate a lot of college humor.
"Of the many hundreds of policies FIRE has catalogued over the years, this is the first that flatly instructs students 'do not joke' about controversial topics. As anyone who has ever lived in a dormitory can likely attest, dorms are where some of the freest and most frank discussions among college students take place. And some of those discussions will almost certainly include -- gasp! -- jokes about controversial topics such as race, ethnicity, and yes, possibly even ability."
FIRE said OSU's policy violates the First Amendment: "There is no exception to the First Amendment for ethnic jokes or dumb blonde jokes."
There's more more about FIRE here. The organization definitely thinks free speech trumps all.