“It’s Okay To Be White”: Oklahoma Law School At The Center Of New Hate Crime Controversy

The Oklahoma City University School of Law is the focus of the latest controversy over campus speech deemed hateful. Fliers were put up around school that read “it is okay to be white.” The police were called to investigate the potential hate crime and Law school Dean Jim Roth declared that such hatred and exclusion “will not be tolerated.” The controversy however reignites concerns in the free speech community over the use of hate crime laws as a surrogate for hate speech laws. Hate speech remains protected under the First Amendment despite recent calls for the adoption of European-style hate speech laws by various Democratic leaders and figures. Indeed, that is the subject of my most recent USA Today column this week.

What is interesting is that police acknowledged that no property was damaged and the fliers were “not believed to be a threat.” Yet, a full investigation is being conducted to try to learn the identity of the person who put up the fliers “to determine his intent and whether the actions are a hate crime.” That sounds more like a pretense for a hate speech investigation.

Roth sent out a letter that told students and staff “[d]espite what the intentions of that message may have been, the message reminds me of one fact that I know our community embraces – it’s okay to be EVERYBODY.”

That point is of course unassailable. However, the question is whether the law school and the police are pursuing a hate speech as opposed to a hate crime investigation. Would the response be the same with a flier noting that it is okay to be other races? If not, what is the defining principle.

I do not like the fliers and would have strongly encouraged a student not to post them. However, I often do not like speech that is at the center of free speech controversies. We do not need the First Amendment to protect popular speech.

I have written for years about the danger of replicating European hate speech laws. Indeed, a twisted notion has emerged recently where the denial of free speech is being defended as an act of free speech. We have been discussing the rising intolerance and violence on college campuses, particularly against conservative speakers. (Here and here and here and here). Berkeley has been the focus of much concern over mob rule on our campuses as violent protesters have succeeded in silencing speakers, even including a few speakers like an ACLU official and James Comey.  Both students and some faculty have maintained the position that they have a right to silence those with whom they disagree and even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech.  At another University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.  In the meantime, academics and deans have said that there is no free speech protection for offensive or “disingenuous” speech.  CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,”  Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech

Launching a police investigation while acknowledging no threat or property damage is a concern for free speech advocates. It seems intentionally designed to create a chilling effect on speech. Once again, you can disapprove of the fliers, voice one’s opposition to the implied message, and yet still be concerned over the police response.

63 thoughts on ““It’s Okay To Be White”: Oklahoma Law School At The Center Of New Hate Crime Controversy”

  1. Do any of these people who advocate for “hate speech” legislation in the United States know anything about why the United States is no longer a part of a European nation?

    I find the idea of “hate crime” laws repulsive enough, since almost any crime that involves actual injury to another usually has some level of hate as motivation. But the way those laws are usually written, there is usually some limitation placed upon the type of hate that can be used as evidence. Such laws could be written so that using a gun to kill another is automatic evidence of hate. Or they could be written so that shooting a person to death with a gun requires a minimum number of rounds to hit the target before it could qualify. The vagaries of these types of laws allow for such ridiculousness.

    But back to the main point, and arguing against the premise of the previous paragraph.

    “Hate speech” could even be rationalized as someone speaking out against the laws that protect our freedom of speech. As such, all these political leaders advocating for limiting the right to speak freely could be characterized as committing “hate speech,” and possibly even “hate crimes.”

    Now that’s one type of “hate crime” I would be in favor of.

  2. Courtesy Glenn Reynolds:

    “YOU WANT MORE WHITE NATIONALISM? BECAUSE THIS IS HOW YOU GET MORE WHITE NATIONALISM. East Tennessee State asks for a lawsuit by promising to prosecute ‘It’s OK to be white’ vandals. “East Tennessee State University’s president is the latest campus leader to rush out a statement in response to the flyers’ appearance, without apparent regard for the legal liability he himself could face for punishing constitutionally protected speech. . . . Noland and the university did not respond to a tweet asking how posting flyers with constitutionally protected speech can be a ‘crime’ deserving ‘prosecution,’ as Noland said in his statement.”

    Just your regular reminder that the people in charge of our institutions are often hysterical children.”

    1. there’s a Supreme court case, maybe from the 1940s which specifically states that people leaving non-commercial handbills in public places– and even on residences– can’t be prosecuted for littering. Good luck “prosecuting” them. I forget the case name. I think it’s one of those Jehovah witnesses cases.

  3. The reaction to this flyer from the “woke” crowd means that, no it is not ok to be white.

    Wonder how things will be when whites are a hated minority in another 30 years. Does anyone think that the anti-white hostility will suddenly end?

    The problem with the “Church of Woke” is that it offers no salvation.


  4. See, now, back in the day, someone would have just got a sharpie out and drawn a d*ck on the sign, and wrote, “It’s okay to be a d*ckb*tch.”

    But of course, that was back in the day when people were civil and kosher about things. 😉🙃😜

  5. While I appreciate the acknowledgement that so-called “hate speech” laws are a threat to our first-amendment rights, I am left wondering why the author says he does not personally like the message of the fliers. It’s a pretty uncontroversial statement, the point of which is to highlight the double-standard applied to white and non-white self-advocacy by the media. And based on the virulent anti-whiteness put on display every time these fliers go up, I’d say they do their job quite well.

    1. Kermit thinks it’s hard being Green. Ha.

      He doesn’t have a clue. As a true Blue being, I’m offended by his victimhood status. Us, Blues cannot tolerate the insensitivity to our Blueness, or for anyone to claim that being Green was harder.

      :: cue the realms smallest violin Sponge Bob ::

  6. Sure, it’s ok to be white. But lots of folks think their white who ain’t. That’s the real problem. Half the folks writing here probably ain’t white. They got lite skin but that dont mean nuttin if their grandparents from Poland. Ya gotta be from a real white country.

  7. Hey, nerds, it’s OK to be Black, Brown, Yellow, Green, and White. How can it not be OK to be human? It’s all good. Just stop worrying about color – it’s insignificant. Get it? It just doesn’t matter. Character matters; color does not. It is in fact OK to be White, or there wouldn’t be any White people. That is, so long as all recognize it’s OK to be any color at all. It is, after all, OK to be Green! Love, Kermit

  8. If the law enforcement agency pursues identifying those involved in posting the notices, they risk setting a very damaging precedent in the courts with the state being the losing side.

    I’ve maintained for years that the mere investigation of a person was a punishment in of itself, given the investigation forces a person to defend themselves or suffer the duress of being subject to a criminal penalty, that it becomes vexatious when there is no reasonable suspicion to investigate and the intent of the investigation is purely to either harass the defendant or make some form of pecuniary or political gain from instigation of the investigation.

    That said, since the state has no compelling interest in “outing” these people for engaging in lawful behavior it could result in case law that makes the government actors liable for violating the civil rights and due process of an individual if they engage in investigation to curtail lawful behavior of a citizen. That could also have an effect of making law enforcement less prone to engage in bona fide investigations where there is limited initial evidence out of fear they might run into liability due to a suspect declaring they were harassed.

    In this case’s example, I see a new action in using “color of law” in the form of a police investigation to curtail free speech rights.

  9. Of course it’s OK to be white, tan, medium tan, or really dark skin.

    Is this a question?

    Stop feeling guilty for being alive, for European ancestry, or Western civilization, which ended the global practice of slavery, advanced modern medicine, the car, electricity…

    Just try to be a good individual person, behave with honor and integrity, and for heavens sake, stop this self flagellation over who did what wrong throughout human history.

      1. It is so strange to read the knee-jerk reaction that a sign reading, “it’s OK to be white” is inherently racist, or insert whatever hateful adjective is at hand.

        Why is this inherently hateful? If it’s OK to be any other race, then it’s OK to be all races. It’s the individual that matters. If people think that saying all lives matter, or it’s OK to be white, is hate, then they are mirroring their own intolerance.

        Of course it’s OK to be yourself. We are supposed to be judged upon the content of our character, not the color of our skin.

        We see the suspension of critical reasoning and questioning as the status quo.

  10. In one of Ken Follets books ‘Hornet Flight’ held a gem in a description of fascism. The summation was fascists were anti culturalists regardless of their or others religions, politics, historical background, values and mores. Their only reason to exist was the pursuit of power and control. Thus they could justify anything including their own oft repeated crimes against humanity in that pursuit.

    Thus we have arrived at Pelosi’s look in her mirror and change the name synthesis of the impeachment charges.

    In short their kind don’t allow any competition be it political or religious or other philosophic natures to exist except their own. When no opponent exist they invent one. Thus Internationalist Socialist begat progressive liberalism and then national socialism not to forget just straight up local garden variety socialist fascism.

    Thanks for that assist Mr. Follet

    As for the Pelosis of the world … let them eat Botox.

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