Youngstown State University joins the no-free-speech Hall of Shame

Once again an American university (Youngstown State University in Pennsylvania Ohio) appears to have suppressed free speech on its campus because the speech constituted unpopular “hate speech”. And this time it’s the college administration, not the students, who are responsible, though the students participated in the “banning,” which involved removing posters deemed offensive.

What happened is that a group of students (apparently not a homophobic organization; read the fine print), put up these posters around the campus:

StraightPride

This is, of course, a no-no: a violation of p.c. values. While I’m a supporter of LGBT causes (see previous post), there is no justification for banning, much less removing, posters like this. However, the university enlisted the help of students to take them down. Here, as published in the Washington Post, are two letters from University administrators vouching for this:

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 1.09.41 PM

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 1.10.23 PM

A student government representative said this, quoted in another Post piece:

It has been brought to the attention of several SGA Executive Board members that “Straight Pride” posters have been hung across campus, seemingly in response to LGBTQIA efforts to promote diversity and foster a culture of acceptance on campus. Though SGA respects the free speech of all YSU students, these postings were not authorized, contained vulgar language, and, unfortunately, miss the point of minority activism.

Now if these posters were posted in places where such speech isn’t permitted, or were “unauthorized” (and all posters must be), then it would be kosher to remove them. See constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh’s analysis here, which includes this:

Where the posters were placed, then, turns out to be a pretty important question. If they were just taken down from places that weren’t open for general posting, then that would be constitutionally permissible; again, the government doesn’t have to open up its building walls for public speech.

But if the posters were taken down even from generally open bulletin boards, without any viewpoint-neutral policy justifying the removal, then that would violate the First Amendment. And if students are disciplined because of the message on the sign (as opposed to because of some posting policy violation, where the policy is enforced in a viewpoint-neutral way), that too would violate the First Amendment.

But the two emails from administrators don’t say anything about authorization or illegal placement, and do you really think that if “unauthorized” posters promoting gay rights were put up, the university would order them taken down? I doubt it. Behind the removal are the sentiments given by the administators, and also espoused by the student government statement:

When individuals belong to dominant societal cohorts (Caucasian, male, heterosexual, etc.) it is very easy to state “We have nothing against your sexual orientation” and to claim that efforts to raise awareness are “annoying.” For minorities who every day face discrimination and marginalization, such efforts are necessary – without zeal and persistence, sociology teaches that minority concerns very easily go by the wayside. Thus, dismissing the efforts of LGBTQIA students to push for equitable treatment as unnecessary is dangerous because it catalyzes discrimination, whether meant to do so or not.

In other words, this kind of speech is dangerous. It cannot stand, for it abrogates Youngstown State’s policy of providing a “caring, inclusive, supportive community.”  That puts that University on a road that leads to the banning of any statement perceived to be “non-inclusive”.

So, unless those posters were treated differently from how pro-gay-rights posters would be handled in the same situation, their removal is simply censorship. I wouldn’t put my money on the “equal treatment” option.

h/t: Ken

66 Comments

  1. Luis Servín
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the flyers should be taken down, but I also think the flyers should clearly identify the student organization putting them up. I’m pretty sure any flyers promoting LGBT pride or any other student-organized event clearly identify the student organization doing the promotion.
    In this case “brought to you by students that are sick about your LGBT pride” just doesn’t cut it. ALso, if they are not homophobic then, why are they sick of hearing about it?

    • Jacob Cohen
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Why should the creators of the poster identify who they are?

      • Luis Servín
        Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        Why should they not?

      • Posted May 25, 2015 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Universities and colleges I know require student clubs to indicate affiliation on certain notices. (I also remember completely anarchic free-for-all boards without such, though.) It is the “payment” for using the limited space.

    • Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      I’m not homophobic yet may get tired of publically hearing about who wants to have sex with whom in any combination. It’s your choice: go for it! But it may not really interest me to hear about it all the time, unless it’s me you want to have sex with, and then i’ll gave an opinion/make a choice.

      • bric
        Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        I’m a gay man and I totally support straight Pride week. I just hope they don’t go into details

        • Filippo
          Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          Just congenially curious – do you have some appreciation of the aesthetics of the bilateral symmetry and curvature of the female body?

          • Posted May 23, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

            Even if Bric were to answer, you’d only have the perspective of one person. Aesthetic appreciation is as varied in the gay community as it is in het life. Also one can appreciate beauty and not be sexually attracted to it.
            🙂
            Some aren’t comfortable discussing it. I think “Ask a Homo” at Slate covers a gamut of subjects people are generally curious about.

            • bric
              Posted May 24, 2015 at 3:32 am | Permalink

              Thank you that’s exactly right. The answer is yes I do have ‘some’ appreciation – Christina Hendricks in motion is a truly wonderful thing (for example). Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is an affecting depiction of beauty sui generis – so what?
              Say you and I are sitting in a bar, a man enters and I tell you I happen to know he is gay; what do you now know about him? Almost nothing, not even what he’s likely to do in bed: there really is an astonishing amount of variety in the world and it doesn’t reduce to ‘gays like this’ or ‘straights are like that’.
              I’m not even really sure it reduces to ‘gays’ and ‘straights’ most of the time.
              However, it is too late for them to ‘reclaim the rainbow’; after God put a double rainbow over Dublin yesterday, I think that’s ours.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted May 24, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

                Vive la différence! Vive l’amour!

                (Too bad I don’t know the Gaelic equivalents for those phrases.)

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted May 24, 2015 at 1:58 am | Permalink

            Look, I’m as straight as a stretch of West Texas interstate, but I still appreciate the aesthetics of the male human form — on a dancer or an athlete or, heck, even the guy working out on the machine next to me in the gym. Doesn’t mean I wanna bone any of ’em. Just like I appreciate the lines on the Chartres Cathedral, without ever having been moved to go inside to pray.

            Good bet it’s that way with gay guys and women’s bodies, too.

      • Posted May 23, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        “I’m not homophobic yet may get tired of publically hearing about who wants to have sex with whom in any combination.”

        You mean the way straight sex is used in most ads/billboards/tv commercials to sell products, and is the predominant theme in nearly every book (fiction) television show, and movie?
        When that stops being the case I might complain about the relatively rare occasions I publically hear about LGBT relationships.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 23, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I think Merilee’s comment includes straight sex too.

          Mostly I’m tired of everyone’s perfect bodies in said shows whether gay or straight. But that’s my own hang ups.

          • Posted May 23, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

            “Yes, I think Merilee’s comment includes straight sex too.”

            A literal, generous, reading with no context does include straight sex too, but why hasn’t he/she already gotten tired of a lifetime’s worth of straight people publicly talking about who wants to have sex with whom?
            I think the comment at least implies it’s LBGTQ people doing as well it that’s he/she finds problematic.
            Personally I have a problem seeing 2 men kissing each other. Which is why I think we need to see more of it, and why I go out of my way to watching programing that includes gay male characters.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted May 23, 2015 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

              Hell, two guys cuddling gives me the willies — but I’ve always understood that to be my issue to deal with, not theirs. The thought of an obese heterosexual couple engaged in sexual congress kinda squicks me, too, but I would vehemently oppose any law prohibiting fatties from fucking or marrying. No more can I abide laws preventing gay couples from marrying or having sex or otherwise expressing their affection. The oppression of any fellow human diminishes my humanity.

              • Posted May 24, 2015 at 12:30 am | Permalink

                I agree completely. I think the “ick” factor is the primary motivation for most homophobes, and because they find gay sex disgusting they believe it shouldn’t be allowed, or condoned. Religion is the justification rather than the motivation for their opposition to gay marriage.
                Religion hasn’t changed significantly recently. It’s peoples exposure to gay relationships that has desensitized them, and made them more accepting.
                We need more gay parades, gay pride rallies, and gay relationships on TV before we need less.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 24, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink

              Honestly, I think this whole premise with what the sign says is a narrow interpretation of what it means not to be straight. It isn’t just about sex. Being different in this way affects your entire life and everything you do. It’s like saying being female is only about giving birth or wearing pretty shoes.

    • Posted May 23, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      “if they are not homophobic then, why are they sick of hearing about it?”

      So what if they are? Would you make the same “I also think the flyers should clearly identify the student organization putting them up” argument if this were a gay pro gay rights organization putting up posters in a Christian university? The only reason I could see to make that argument is so we can know who those are that hold the minority opinion and bully, or ostracize them into silence.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      I think advocates for any position should identify themselves, too. But they shouldn’t be required to do so upon pain of censorship. There are legitimate reasons (though I don’t know if any of them apply here) why advocates may wish to remain anonymous (similar to the reasons why many people elect to post comments online pseudonymously). During the civil-rights era, for example, advocacy often had to be carried out anonymously for ear of violent reprisal.

  2. EvolvedDutchie
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    The student who made that poster is perhaps already post-LGBT issues, so LGBT pride might sound a bit excessive to him. However, in many places in the United States, that is sadly not the case and it’s still important for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders to come out and show who they are. It’s very important, because if people know a gay person, they can see LGBT people are just normal, ordinary human beings. For example, senator Rob Portman changed his view on same sex marriage when his son came out.

    The flyers should not have been taken down in my opinion. It could lead to an interesting discussion about why LGBT pride is important.

    Slightly offtopic: what does LGBTQIA mean? I prefer to stick to LGBT for practical reasons.

    • Shea B
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      My understanding is that the QIA is usually taken to mean “Questioning, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, or Ally”. I wonder if there are other variants of sexuality that might be tacked on as well.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Another is LGBTTIQQ2SA, which is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, 2-Spirited and Allies. There are others. I know that identity & orientations run through a continuum, and some people do not consistently stay with one orientation or identity.

      • Filippo
        Posted May 23, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        A la “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” the “Q [Queue?] Continuum.” 😉

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted May 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        A is more often Asexual than Ally. Ally is usually just what those of us who don’t match any of the letters but are supporters of the cause call ourselves.

    • EvolvedDutchie
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Thanks everyone for enlightening me!

    • Irene
      Posted May 24, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Also if I may add having pride parades in countries where this is possible sends an importent message to those countries where being LGBT is a crime.

  3. Randy Schenck
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    The poster itself kind of gives the game away as far as who the straights really are. It’s in the fine print.

    “Nobody cares what you want to have sex with”

    Lots of pride but no dignity and fewer brains.

  4. Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    FWIW, Youngstown State University is in Youngstown, OH.

  5. Filippo
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m for “Don’t Mention Kanye West To Me” Week, or, synonymously, “Anti-Narcissism” Week. 😉 I wonder if one could get by with such a campus poster.

    • bric
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Oh I have SUCH a long list

      • Filippo
        Posted May 23, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        Including, “I Don’t Want To Know Anything About Your Private Life,” or, “I Want To Be Left Alone,” Week?

        I’m reminded that, a lot of times, when someone asks me, “How are you doing,” or, “How are things going?,” s/he really doesn’t want to know; that the “proper,” expected answer is “good” or “well” or “great” or some such answer.

        I generally try to answer, “Better than at least 95% of the people who have ever lived.”

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 23, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          I have this unfortunate habit of taking things literally, so when someone says “How are you” I tell them. As in, “Okay, but I’ve got a slight headache and my ankle hurts yadda yadda”

          I used to anyway, I made a conscious effort to cure myself of that because I know it really wasn’t what they were asking.

        • Marella
          Posted May 23, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

          Probably better than 95% of those currently living as well.

  6. Jacob Cohen
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    You can criticize a point of view without knowing the identity of the person advancing that point of view.

  7. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Other problems with the poster are that it has a bad word in it & the group did not identify themselves. I think that the 1st could get it taken down anywhere on campus, and the 2nd could get it taken down from unauthorized areas.
    That said, the letters about it clearly indicate that the negative reaction comes from repression of free speech.

  8. nightglare
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Rather than taking the posters down, people could have defaced them in a way that pointed out how absolutely idiotic they are.

    “Nobody cares about what you think you are or what you want to have sex with”

    How completely clueless some people are!

    I look forward to their future posters about how racism and sexism aren’t a thing now either.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t advocate defacing anyone else’s poster (anymore than I would advocate interfering with a live speaker).

      The better way to handle it would have been for YSUnity — which according to the emails is the LBGT organization on campus — to put up its own posters, preferably on both sides of the “straight pride” posters, explaining why advocacy of gay rights is crucial, or explaining why support from those outside the LBGT community is important. Or it could have put up parody “straight pride” posters demonstrating the ridiculousness of that group’s position.

      The answer to wrongheaded speech is to present the marketplace of ideas with right-headed speech, and both the University and LBGT advocates missed a teaching opportunity by ignoring that here. Censoring the other side’s speech is the dumb, lazy, authoritarian (and potentially unconstitutional) solution.

      • nightglare
        Posted May 23, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        You’re probably right that that’s the more mature and constructive approach, but I’d personally have few qualms about just ripping the thing off the wall and shoving it in the bin. The poster itself is dumb and lazy, so a dumb and lazy response seems quite fitting.

  9. Heather Hastie
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    There are quite a few people who are just completely lacking in empathy. They genuinely have no issue with LGBT people (or any other group that is facing bigotry or prejudice), they just don’t care. They’re not interested in anyone except themselves. Because they don’t care, they don’t recognize bigotry in others, and don’t see what the big deal is. They can’t understand why people who are the victims of prejudice (which they rarely notice anyway) don’t just ignore it and get on with their lives. They don’t recognize that people have to speak up or society doesn’t move on.

    Having said that, of course the posters should be allowed if they’re not violating any rules. We can’t limit free speech to speech we like. The only way to counter bad ideas is to persuasively argue a better case, and that cannot happen if everyone doesn’t have an equal chance to express an opinion.

    Banning speech, e.g. laws that forbid Holocaust denial, lead to hate, prejudice, conspiracy theories etc. It’s better, and far more convincing, to expose bad arguments to the light of day and refute them that way.

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Exactly — Bring them into the light where they can get a good thrashing. Mostly they like to hide in the dark with the cockroaches.

  10. Steve Gerrard
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Hmm. An anonymous posting about a non-event, loaded with passive-aggressive negative remarks about LGBT? I say take it down. Free speech applies to the genuine expression of a point of view, not flippant comments. It doesn’t mean you can post anything you want anywhere you want.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Can you draw a bright line for the rest of us distinguishing “genuine expression” from “flippant comment” — one that’s content- and viewpoint-neutral and can be consistently applied by the censor?

    • Doug
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Since when does free speech not apply to “flippant” comments? If free speech doesn’t apply to “flippant” comments, then the powers-that-be could ban any speech that they don’t like simply by declaring it “flippant.”

      I’m reminded of the time Nancy Pelosi refused to answer a question about the constitutionality of Obamacare beyond asking the reporter “Are you serious!?” Her spokesman Nadeam Elshami later insisted “It was not a serious question.”

  11. muffy
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m as pro-choice as they come, and I disagree with pro-choicers who:

    1) deface pro-life posters

    2) attack pro-life demonstrators

    F that.

    The same principle applies here.

  12. Posted May 23, 2015 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s satire, pure and simple. Leave it alone and enjoy the same right to free speech they should enjoy. As satire, I think it’s funny and don’t appreciate anyone telling me it’s anything more than entertaining. Get over yourself.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

      And I do like “We’re taking back the rainbow”. I have several colourful umbrellas including my favourite, a rainbow one, and these days I can no longer use it in case someone assumes I’m gay, which annoys me. (The not-being-able-to-use-it, that is).

      As a straight guy, I’m mildly peeved that I can’t indulge my liking for colourful things without being misidentified as gay.

      • Posted May 23, 2015 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        “As a straight guy, I’m mildly peeved that I can’t indulge my liking for colourful things without being misidentified as gay.”

        So what if you were? I don’t get it.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 24, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

          This is the sadness of what our society does. There are people who shame you for everything. You’re never going to please everyone so if someone calls you gay for wearing a pink shirt, I’d ask them what’s wrong with being gay? It’s the same thing when someone makes fun of a man for “throwing like a girl”. I like to point out, “because you think being a girl is inferior to being a boy right?”

          I drive a small roadster. Men who drive the car are often stereotyped as gay because it’s “a woman’s car” simply because it’s small. In other words, “women” and “gays” are inferior. I like to point out two things when people say this to me: 1) so what 2) well good I happen to be female so I guess it suits me.

          I also refuse to associate with these types of people. They need to grow up and life is too short.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 25, 2015 at 2:08 am | Permalink

            Actually, I suspect someone did once assume I was gay for wearing a pink shirt (actually it was a peach-coloured T-shirt with a faded red Rarotonga design on it). It was at the bottom of the Pararaha Valley track which is a fairly rugged track in the Waitakere Ranges, I was wearing shirt and shorts and hat (like, NOT the officially approved tramping outfit of rucksack and heavy boots and all that gear I can’t be bothered lugging around), passed a small group of trampers resting at Muir Camp and one of them called out “Love the shirt!”. I chose to take it at face value and just said “Thanks!” and plodded on. Maybe he’d just had a nice holiday in Rarotonga, who knows?

            Oh, by the way, re the roadster, pretty soon I’m going to buy a Mazda MX-5. Couldn’t care less it’s called a ‘hairdresser’s car’, it goes, it handles, it drives at the right end, it’s good on twisty roads, what’s not to like?

            But it’s not the ‘gay’ness that mildly annoys me, just being mis-classified as something I’m not.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 25, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

              That’s the same roadster I have. It handles amazingly well. You practically just think it and it goes the way you want it to got. Mine is a 2008 model and it just got waxed and washed this weekend.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 24, 2015 at 2:30 am | Permalink

        If the someone-assuming-you’re-gay doesn’t annoy you, then what’s keeping you from using your favorite rainbow umbrella?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 24, 2015 at 2:57 am | Permalink

          Very good question. And quite simply, it’s being assumed to be something I’m not. If, without encouragement from me, someone assumes I’m gay it doesn’t bother me. If necessary I’ll just say “No I’m not gay” and that’s it as far as I’m concerned. No big deal. Similarly if someone assumes I’m Xtian.

          But I think, in the present climate, carrying my favourite rainbow umbrella is virtually inviting observers to conclude I might be gay, and so I won’t do it. It’s almost like being deliberately misleading, a bit like false pretences.

          Does that clarify it?

          • Posted May 28, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

            My objection in particular is to “We’re taking back the rainbow”. The rainbow never belonged to strayt people, gay people never took it, and the implication is that once “we” have taken it back, gay people may no longer use it. That seems pretty homophobic to me.

            If they are not homophobic, what is it about our sexual orientation that “annoys the shit out of” these people?

            If “Straight Pride Week” is to be celebrated by “just go[ing] about your day without telling anyone how ‘different’ you are”, what is the point of putting up posters about it?

            And since strayt people are not “different” at all, they could tell people how “different” they are by saying nothing, so what exactly are they on about? No, this is as Steve Gerrard said, a passive-aggressive attack on GLBTI people.

            After centuries of GLBTI shaming, there is point to gay pride. There has never been any strayt shaming, so there is no point to “straight pride”. The very existence of posters like this mean that gay pride celebrations are still necessary.

            Since the answer to hate speech is not suppression of freedom of speech but more speech, would it be OK for a GLBTI group to add to the posters a sticker that didn’t cover any of the text but explained why it is homophobic?

            • Posted May 28, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

              Sorry, meant this to be a new thread.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted May 29, 2015 at 1:52 am | Permalink

              I thought ‘taking back the rainbow’ was an amusingly frivolous comment.

              The rainbow actually doesn’t ‘belong’ to anybody.

              Oh, and I’m all in favour of defacing posters, provided it is done wittily.

      • bric
        Posted May 24, 2015 at 3:37 am | Permalink

        Oh goodness! I wear a lot of black and grey and have a black umbrella, no wonder women keep coming on to me. Of course I have to disappoint them, so galling.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 24, 2015 at 4:02 am | Permalink

          Ah, so you’re one of the grey people 😉 You can pass the spare women on to me if you like.

          (But why is it that people in offices have to wear such dowdy, grey, 1984-ish clothes? Western business attire is just crap).

          • bric
            Posted May 24, 2015 at 4:23 am | Permalink

            Actually it’s curious that I am so grey now, in the 70s when I worked in a City office we were required to wear a dark suit and tie; even in summer you had to wear a jacket outside the office. I did jazz it up with coloured shirts and less-than-subtle ties but ‘reminders of suitable office attire’ were issued to our office, the ties especially inspired competition . . .
            The black umbrella however is a magnificent specimen, the Swain Adeney Brigg “John Steed” model in maple with silk canopy, as camp in it’s way as any rainbow model.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted May 24, 2015 at 4:46 am | Permalink

              Oh I do agree The Avengers were kinda camp, but fun.

              But when I worked in Rarotonga everyone (even senior staff) wore ‘island shirts’ (aka ‘Hawaiian’) to the office. It was a depressing jolt to return to NZ where everyone in the office wore grey.

              Earlier in my career I flatted in Remuera and caught the Portland Road bus to town, most of the passengers were secretaries, all wearing grey suits and about as feminine as Maggie Thatcher. Just once an attractive young woman got on wearing an actual dress and brightened my whole day. It was such a relief when I moved to the working-class area of Dominion Road and the buses were full of real people.

              • Hempenstein
                Posted May 24, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

                when I worked in Rarotonga…

                I am most envious of that. Rarotonga’s about the only place I’ve wanted to return to based simply on having landed at the airport for refueling and then taken off again (to NZ). The only thing I have to show for it is one of those souvenir Cook Islands $3 bills, and I don’t think we even left the tarmac to do that, but the feeling of the place just from that short moment was that the place must be a lot of fun.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 24, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

                Landing for refuelling is also the extent of my first hand experience of Rarotanga. I do remember how strong the sun was on my scalp.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted May 25, 2015 at 2:50 am | Permalink

                Raro is certainly a great place for a holiday. Climate’s pretty good, very few dangerous insects or animals, and everybody’s pretty relaxed. Working there – let’s just say I accumulated more ‘war stories’ in two years there than the rest of my working life. Certainly an experience.

                The $3 notes were perfectly valid legal tender. Of course the number that got ‘souvenired’ were very good for the foreign exchange figures since nobody was ever going to bring them back and demand monetary value for them. Also good for winning bets with.

                Re the sun, Diana, you could even get sunburnt on an overcast day.

  13. Posted May 23, 2015 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t buy the innocence of the posters. It’s clear to me that they are hostile to LGBT.
    All this is completely irrelevant to the posters being “speech” which clearly doesn’t incite violence and is therefore protected.
    The emails are just ludicrous.
    We have things like this happen in Israel too. I find it growingly embarrassing to identify as a liberal.

    • Posted May 23, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      “I don’t buy the innocence of the posters. It’s clear to me that they are hostile to LGBT.”

      Agreed. It’s like someone complaining that there’s no white history month. If by chance they aren’t bigots, or at best insensitive they are ignorant because they apparently don’t understand why it’s reasonable to perceive them as such.
      And yes insensitive bigots have the right to free speech.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 24, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      And like I said upthread, these people have missed the point of what it is to be gay because it isn’t just about sex. By the way, I came to this understanding when I was in my youth studying university English in my fourth year. It was a class where you could do a thesis or write smaller essays. I think we all had to do presentations. I decided to do my presentation and paper on a couple of lesbian poets whose work was pretty hard to find because bookstores didn’t want to carry it (gasp! gay women!). It was through reading these poems that I came to understood how being gay was part of their every interaction and everything they did. I had gay friends so you’d think I would have figured this out, but it was the poetry from two lesbian women who made me understand this.

      So, this is the value of what universities do – this is the value of literature and free speech.

  14. kelskye
    Posted May 23, 2015 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t get what banning the poster would do, other than to hide such sentiments away from the people who are trying to bring awareness to the LGBT issues. Are certain actions exempt from being allowed to criticise? If so, how is this determined?


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