Sunday, November 05, 2006


My readers had mixed reactions to Boston University's new zero-tolerance policy for foul language and sexist or racist comments from fans at university sporting events. Most applauded the university's policy, however.

"Emotions can run strong and can get out of control at sports events," writes Bert Hoogendam of Sarnia, Ontario, "but nobody has the right or privilege to use swear words and any other vulgar expressions."

"A ticket to a paid event is not a license for the `fans' to personally assault a participant," agrees Anthony Elia of Mission Viejo, Calif.

"Sometimes the parents of these students don't teach their own kids about citizenship and how to be good people in this society," writes Connie Alvarez of Orange, Calif., "and schools sometimes have to step in and play that role."

"The students who feel that they need to use such language -- anywhere -- need an extensive vocabulary course," writes Merrilee Gardner of Irvine, Calif.

But Chuck Jones of Anaheim, Calif., disagrees."Seems that, because something offends them, it's OK to suspend that pesky First Amendment," Jones writes. "Just another example of hypocrisy in our society."

Check out other opinions at or post your own at by clicking on "comments" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 609 Greenwich St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does the First Amendment give us the right to express opinions, ideas, feelings? Or does it give us the right to express them offensively?

Connie Pittenger
Santa Ana, CA