I think it is safe to say that all of us have had the urge to tell a college admissions director that we sexually identify as an attack helicopter. It is essentially basic human nature, and it seems that I may be more in touch with my primal self because that is exactly what I did in an email to Bluffton University.
However, the folks over at Bluffton must have had a group of hackers for covert ops as they were able to track me down for my controversial message. Bluffton officials contacted Start principal Ed Perozek, and subsequently I faced harsh discipline in a three-day suspension for what I thought was a harmless joke.
In hindsight, I obviously have realized to keep such confessions to myself, but I also think that as a student our freedoms of speech should be upheld. Sure, the message was slightly vulgar in the way it was presented, but according to Bethel School District v. Fraser, a — U.S. Supreme Court decision, a school can only limit such language if it is a disruption to classroom activities, for example if the language is made in public discourse.
My email to Bluffton was a private one that was seen by no one but me and its recipient.
It is also worth noting that language has to more than just unpleasing or distasteful to a school official for it to be punishable; It must establish a true threat, or again, must reasonably be the catalyst of substantial disruption to school activities as established by Tinker v. Des Moines. I think it would be hard to argue that a crude email about a half-human, half aircraft could be described as either.
But I think that the real problem it this situation lies at the fact that a majority of people get offended way too easily. Any idea or values that someone disagrees with their initial reaction is to become offended. I could understand if that idea is a personal attack, but even then, what good can possibly come from getting offended by anything? It seems like common sense that the most beneficial action would be to ignore it and move on, but instead society has instilled in us a sense of entitlement. The next time you are find yourself in a dilemma because someone simply does not like what you said, know that your rights are protected and ride your bald eagle into the sunset.