Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Campus Recruiting

The Supreme Court decided yesterday that law schools, and by extension, universities, can’t exclude military recruiters just because the school does not support “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In this instance, the Court and I are in perfect agreement.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I support gay rights. I believe that gays and lesbians have a stake in this country, and should have as much right as anyone else to help defend it. I further believe that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is the dumbest thing since Crystal Pepsi. It gives us the worst of both worlds. The gay-bashers are not protected from having “deviants” in the foxhole next to them, but since expressing homosexuality is still forbidden, they continue to have their prejudice justified by regulation. This makes them feel free to attack their fellow soldier if they SUSPECT he might be gay – verbally, through job-related discrimination, and even through physical force. Meanwhile, the gay people who decide to live with the restrictions can’t express themselves sexually in any way, not only for fear of attack, but in order to keep their job. That’s got to be destructive to their morale, stability, and emotional toughness – all important qualities to any soldier. I would much rather my buddy in the foxhole be free to make a pass at me, than for him to be nursing resentment at the last several years of repression and mistreatment. After all, I can always tell him “No, thanks, you’re not my type.”

Despite that belief, though, I support the Court’s decision. The Court unanimously agreed that providing facilities for an employer to recruit students does not equate to support for that employer’s policies – so it isn’t a free speech issue, as the school is not compelled to speak. Besides, as the Court stated, the school is free to organize a protest, send out mass-mailings decrying the discriminatory policy, or use any other free-speech means to make the point – as long as they give the Recruiters equal access to the students.

The Court also disagreed with the idea that forcing the school to allow the Recruiters on campus meant forcing the school and the military into an “association,” thus providing the appearance of support for the policy. The school isn’t hiring the Recruiters, nor even enrolling them as students. No reasonable person could see that as associating.

The most telling point to me, though, is one that the Court mentioned only in reverse. The Court stated that since Congress has the Constitutional authority to “raise and support armies,” the law could have simply required the schools to comply. Instead, the law gives the schools the option to bar Recruiters…at the risk of losing all Government funding for the entire university. For some reason, none of the major law schools is willing to accept that penalty in order to express their outrage. That makes me question their sincerity just a bit – is it possible that the schools’ moral outrage at the military’s discriminatory policy has more to do with attracting customers…I mean, students than it does with a genuine desire for fair treatment for all? Free speech is an important right, possibly the MOST important right we have. But if you are going to criticize the government, don’t expect the government to pay for the lecture hall.

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