Sunday, June 13, 2010

There's Something Rotten in Johnson County...

Johnson County Community College rightfully boasts of its well-deserved reputation as one of the nation's leading community colleges and most affordable choice for students seeking a variety of career and degree-focused programs, but a recent controversy over free speech threatens to tarnish that legacy.

Kathy Brown, a professional attorney, nurse, and student at JCCC in early 2009 alleges that the college violated her First Amendment rights and has stonewalled an internal investigation into the matter.

Brown says she was told by one professor she could not criticize Islam, and she was reprimanded by another professor for arguing her opposition to gay marriage in a private conversation with another student.

The response from college administration officials? The "Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion" (which aptly reeks of political correctness run amok) informed Brown of the unwritten and informal (but apparently, enforced) "Discomfort Policy" at JCCC, which bars any speech that could be construed as offensive or cause someone to feel uncomfortable.

After met with such ridiculous free speech restrictions and justification, Brown took her case to the JCCC Board of Trustees, but in the 15 months since she launched her complaint, but strangely, the Board has offered no details for the delay and stonewalling, and no hints that a resolution is even near.

Brown gave a detailed and impassioned account of her story and determination to achieve a just resolution and acknowledgment of wrongdoing at last month's Board of Trustees meeting, but the Board was strangely tight-lipped on the matter.

It's difficult to prove discrimination, bias, and violation of one's rights if you are not of a protected or favored class in today's society, and that challenge is compounded by
a policy that is unwritten but very much enforced.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. I have information from a current student who was belittled and asked by JCCC officials to change her shirt on two different occasions: once, when she was wearing a College Republicans shirt and on another occasion where she wore a shirt commemorating our troops' sacrifice in Iraq.

Kansas Watchdog, Kansas Reform, and Ben Hodge have reported on this local controversy. Now we at the Kenig Konnection call on JCCC and the Board of Trustees to respond to Brown's complaints, provide a resolution, hold the offending parties responsible, and end this "Discomfort Policy" once and for all.

Video courtesty of

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