Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the fraternity shut down by OU for racist chants has secured counsel and is weighing its legal options. We're going to get into that in a minute, but there is some unfinished business from yesterday's piece about SAE .
I mentioned in that piece that I was in a fraternity, of sorts at Northern Illinois University and said that I would get into that at the end of the piece, in case anyone was interested. I neglected to do that, so here it is:
In my very first college class, I met a fellow freshman with whom I seemed to have a lot in common. We lived in the same dorm, had bizarre senses of humor, enjoyed pointless all-nighters, followed by breakfast in the cafeteria and then long naps during class time. We'll call this guy, Lenny, for now.
Lenny and I became fast friends-some would say accomplices-and he soon introduced me to his best friend, who we'll call Richie, for now. Richie had an older brother in Phi Epsilon Pi and was guaranteed admission to the fraternity as a legacy .
Richie suggested that the three of us go through rush together, become Phi Eps and move into the house for our second year. I hadn't planned on doing any rushing-I like to take my time-but, it seemed like fun so off we went to guzzle beer and watch pornos.
When the invitations to pledge went out, Richie and I got ours, but Lenny's was MIA-missing in action. It turned out that the brothers of Phi Epsilon Pi got wind of an incident involving Lenny, a stolen lamp and the campus police and decided that he was not to be a part of the beer-guzzling, porno-watching Phi Eps.
As I pondered my next move, Lenny came by and told me about his friends at a local fraternity called Tau Lambda Chi-I had never heard of them, either-who would happily take us on as pledges.
He hinted at the high times we could have sophomore year living together in the Tau Lambda Chi house. 'Nuff said.
It's hard to accurately describe the Tau Lambda Chi house. The best thing I can tell you is that it was infested with a variety of vermin and I felt sorry for THEM. The vermin.
The members assured us that they were in secret, high level negotiations with a national fraternity and that we would soon be getting a new house. The former statement was a lie, as was the latter.
So, yada yada yada, now it's the beginning of sophomore year and I head up to school to move into that delightful frat house with my good friend, Lenny, only to find out that Lenny had inexplicably transferred to Southern Illinois University.
I knew there had to be a reason I couldn't get in touch with him at the end of summer. No dummy here. I wondered if it had anything to do with that stolen lamp found in his room.
Anyway, that's the story. By March of sophomore year I was heading to Ft. Polk in scenic Louisiana and by the time Lenny and I reconnected several years later, the whole fraternity thing was ancient history. I didn't give it all that much thought.
The main vitriol I got, though seemed to come from the impression that I left with some readers that I thought that those little racist frat boys should be punished, effectively depriving them of their freedom of speech.
Au contraire , Pierre. I think they have a right to say whatever they want. Being racists is one of their inalienable rights.
You may have seen me quote the fictional, Andrew Shepard when he said, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours."
That's the downside of free speech. Everyone gets to talk.
To be clear, no one here is advocating any limits on hate, stupidity or ignorance. And no, those last two aren't the same thing . Everyone's entitled to voice their opinions, no matter how ill conceived those opinions might be.
For SAE, the problem is not their right to be racists, but the consequences for exercising that right. Their actions probably violated some guideline at their sanctioning body up at SAE national headquarters. If not their actions, getting caught on video certainly did.
The question that may soon have to be settled in court is whether or not the university has a right to sanction those actions. I would guess that, in deference to the student body at large, the university not only has a right, they have an obligation.
However this whole thing plays out at OU and possibly at universities across the country, I will always defend the right of my fellow countrymen to be assholes. I may even start watching Duck Dynasty.
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