Source: Highly recommended for people who want to stand up for their rights. Read the whole sordid tale there. I'm going to buy the whole book. Since it is a true story, perhaps people should pay more attention to it.

On the night of January 13, 1993, Eden Jacobowitz, a Jewish freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, was attempting to write an English paper for class when he was disturbed by loud screams and shouts from above. Apparently, a bunch of drunken sorority girls were having a party during quiet hours. He shouted "Please keep quiet!" and went back to work. Twenty minutes later, they got louder, so he shouted "Shut up, you water buffalo!" Since the women were singing about going to a party, he followed up with "If you want to go to a party, there's a zoo a mile from here." The women were black. Within weeks, he was charged by UPenn's judicial office for "racial harassment". He could either accept a plea bargain, or he could attend a judicial hearing which could result in suspension or expulsion.

Apparently, the school saw a racist side to the remark water buffalo. As a student in college, I have heard much more vehement remarks directed at drunken frat or sorority members late at night. However, they somehow managed to see water buffalo, an animal which actually lived in Asia, not Africa, as a racist epithet and charged a student on a speech code installed in 1989, which was considered very restrictive. One example that violated it was "Heterosexual Footwear Day", a satire directed at the Gay Jeans Day that are held so often in colleges today. Ironically, the university administrapo claimed that speech was free at UPenn, in spite of the fact that University of Michigan's speech code was ruled as unconstitutional by the Court, and yet it was less restrictive than UPenn's. Sheldon Hackney, the president of the university, said:

"We are not Beijing, but the "Land of Liberty," where efforts "to limit expression" deemed "offensive" violated the essence and spirit of "democracy" and made social "satire" impossible"

Incidentally, the Beijing reference can be seen as slander by some Chinese, making him liable to be persecuted by his own speech code. Anyways, UPenn has always been liberal and blindly adhering to political correctness. Incoming freshman were subjected to diversity orientations that depicted not the college but the entire America to be a hotbed for racism. Five of the drunken women immediately took it offensively and with campus police in tow swept through the dorm looking for a suspect. Everybody denied it, except Eden Jacobowitz, who claimed responsibility, but added that race had nothing to do with it. They immediately charged him with hate speech.

The courageous student refused any settlement, and with the local ACLU recruited witnesses and professors to defend him. Ethnicity professors testified that they have never heard "water buffalo" ever used in a racist light, and they ridiculed the college's stance looking at the fact that the water buffalo isn't even African. The press got wind of the deal, and First Amendment advocates brought out numerous cases of double standards of the administrapo, such as this representative case:

The kidnappers played a tape of a Malcolm X speech containing references to violence directed at whites. O'Flanagan (the white victim) believed that no one would be able to hear any possible cries for help. They drove him to a secluded playground/park area. They encircled him whispering to him again the phrase "Sheffield Deathfield!" (they mistook the victim for another person, whom they believed to be a bigot). They also taunted him by referring to lynchings in the South, in Alabama. He remained handcuffed to the metal structure in an inner-city playground for a period of time, barefoot and only minimally clothed, and the night was cold and rainy. They then conducted a mock "trial" which consisted in part of his being subjected to physical discomfort, emotional distress, and repeated and intense verbal abuse. They talked about lynchings, and they shouted obscenities and abusive language at him. Among the phrases used were statements such as "Fuck you!"; "racist"; "You're a neo-Nazi racist fuck!" They then shoved him back in the car, recuffed him and drove him to the intersection of 34th and Chestnut Streets. During this 10 to 15 minute ride, they again played the same Malcolm X tape. At the intersection, they pulled him from the car, blindfolded. He believed he was being left in the middle of a highway or a busy street.

They were practically let off. Nothing close to what was proposed for Eden Jacobowitz, and yet, this case was so much more severe and easily identified as hate speech.

After a wild media circus, where a rarely supportive press completely ridiculed UPenn, the college dropped the speech codes. The story is too long to node here, and there is too much plotting on the sides of all the players to explain clearly in one node. Foreign newspapers used this story to show how American political correctness has gone completely bonkers. Despite this, many colleges still have restrictive speech codes today, and have stupid "free speech zones" instead, an obvious infringement on the First Amendment. I guess it takes more than one nationally scrutinized case to convince them otherwise.