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Thursday, December 7, 2006

Are you or have you ever been

December 6, 2006
wrbrody@jhu.edu


Dear Mr. William Brody --

As president of Johns Hopkins University, you will be aware of Justin Park, a student who has been summarily suspended for displaying a traditional Halloween skeleton at a party.

Per columnist Mike Adams' piece of December 6, Associate Dean of Students Dorothy Sheppard informed Mr. Park by letter that his facebook.com announcements of a Halloween party were “offensive” racial stereotyping.

She stated that decorations at the party were “offensive” -- by which she meant the "skeleton."

She stated that Mr. Park had been charged with “failing to respect the rights of others and to refrain from behavior that impairs the university’s purpose or its reputation in the community,” in violation of the “university’s anti-harassment policy”.

She asserted that he failed to “to comply with the directions of a university administrator”.

He was accused of “conduct or a pattern of conduct that harasses a person or a group,” and of “intimidation.” He is informed that he is suspended from the University for one calendar year.

All this, because of a traditional Halloween party.

Justice is a delicate thing, sir. We have come to see the loyalty oaths extracted from American employees and citizens in the late 1940s and into the 1950s as a blot on our history. The presumed threat there was from an aggressive militaristic enemy. Now it seems the requirements of orthodox thinking have moved past oaths, to every word and the very thoughts of students, on campus and off.

A skeleton, sir, is in no way racially offensive. The only race involved with Halloween skeletons is the human race. Reminders of our mortality should bring us closer to tolerance and gentleness, even for those with whom we disagree. Halloween is, after all, a religious festival -- All Saints Day being the commemoration of those martyred for their beliefs.

Is young Justin Park to be another martyr to intolerance?

You have some say in the matter. I am not the only one who commends you to your conscience.

Yours with Highest Regards,

Jack H

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