Two white University of Connecticut students were arrested Monday after playing a game where they shouted vulgar words, including racial epithets like the n-word.
Stupid? Yes! Racist and vulgar? Yes! But Illegal? Not usually, but Adam Steinbaugh of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reported that Connecticut has “a rarely-used, unconstitutional state law prohibiting ‘ridicule.’”
This “relic,” of a law, as Steinbaugh explained, is from 1917 and was “intended to address advertisements for businesses, not every use of derogatory language.” It states:
Sec. 53-37. Ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race. Any person who, by his advertisement, ridicules or holds up to contempt any person or class of persons, on account of the creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race of such person or class of persons, shall be guilty of a class D misdemeanor.
Steinbaugh noted that the law was rarely enforced because “it is plainly unconstitutional.”
“The use of racially-derogatory language — without more — is protected by the First Amendment,” he added.
The two students were filmed while they shouted the racist terms in an apartment complex parking lot. The video sparked outrage on campus. The UConn chapter of the NAACP wrote a letter to the editor of the school’s newspaper, The Daily Campus. The letter demanded school officials “fully investigate this incident and apply the proper justice.” Campus Reform reported that the university confirmed to it that the two students shouting vulgar and racist words in the video were arrested under the “ridicule” law.
NBC News reported that the two students, each aged 21, could face “a $50 fine or up to 30 days in jail.” Not to mention a criminal record that may have to be explained in the future.
A third man seen in the video was not arrested as he did not appear to shout with the other two, NBC reported.
Legal Insurrection reported that this is just the most recent example of people being punished for words — even if most people would find those words objectionable.
“Last month, New York made it illegal to use the term ‘illegal alien’ in a derogatory manner,” the outlet reported. “This week, a lawmaker in Massachusetts is proposing outlawing use of the word ‘bitch.’
As The Daily Wire reported Wednesday, the Massachusetts bill was introduced by State Rep. Daniel Hunt, a Democrat representing the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, on behalf of a constituent. Massachusetts is the only state that allows citizens to introduce bills to the legislature. Hunt told The Boston Globe that he forgot to check a box on the filing form indicating it was for a constituent.
Hunt also said he has been mocked for the bill by State Republicans and people from across the country.
“I got at least 50 phone calls today calling me a ‘bitch’ or the ‘C’ word, and I’ve also gotten probably 50 e-mails,” he told the Globe.
When asked if the emails and phone calls bothered him, Hunt said it was “their right to express themselves to an elected official.” Acknowledging that right negates the bill he introduced.