Offended! Offended, I tell you.

Baltimore Reporter covers an incident at the University of Maryland-College Park where a cashier refused to ring up a student’s food purchase because the cashier was “offended”, nay, in high dudgeon, over a t-shirt worn by the customer. We’ve all seen offensive t-shirts but this one said “I stand for Israel”.

What ensued was a typical example of the supine, gutless behavior that infests higher education. A new cashier was found and the customer had to apologize.

After much hand-wringing and political posturing by co-op and school officials, the student got her food after being checked out by a different clerk. Then she apologized to the offended clerk and offered a chocolate cake as proof of the sincerity of her apology for being “offensive.”

Technically, the co-op is not affiliated with the university, but it does rent space from the school, which makes the co-op a place of public accommodation. Numerous federal and state court cases long ago established that places of public accommodation are covered by the First Amendment and cannot discriminate against anybody’s race, sex, religion, political beliefs, martial status, etc.

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Free speech, or even the freedom to think thoughts that could conceivably offend a protected group, is becoming a scarce commodity on campuses and when the administration of a university subsidizes boorish, if not illegal, behavior it sends a clear message on where it stands.

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