I really didn’t expect this.

“A Michigan State University investigation has concluded that two conservative student groups did not violate the university’s anti-discrimination policy.”

You can actually download a copy of the report, minus some of the “exhibits”, from the LSJ website. (Blood pressure alert: the comments on that LSJ article are particularly egregious.)

The group they are talking about is primarily Young Americans for Freedom, which I have mentioned here before. They are bad enough to be named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Unfortunately, the PDFs do not contain copies of some of the materials distributed by YAF at MSU. I’ve seen some of them, and they absolutely were intimidating and created an atmosphere of hate. One flyer called Native Americans “savages spreading syphilis” and “degenerate skull-fuckers.”  Verdict from the report:

“While clearly intended to ridicule and target the Native American community, the flyers did not rise to the level of noxiousness found in the case law.”

I thought about describing some of the things YAF has done, but ultimately, reading the PDF just made me too depressed. (Search for “decapitated groundhog head in mailbox” in the the document for a freaky example.)

The ultimate ruling on the whole issue:

“While seeing offensive website postings, chalkings and flyers several times throughout the semester may seem very assaultive, it does not amount to more than the ”utterance of an ethnic or racial epithet which engenders offensive feelings” in light of the case law.”

In other words, because MSU is a big place, and the nastiness could have been be avoided and didn’t impact everyone, or was targeted at specific individuals, it doesn’t create a climate of hate.

I can accept that under some interpretations of case law, that is correct. But frankly, I suspect that MSU simply didn’t want to “go there” in terms of calling these kids out on their hateful conduct. Even sadder is the faculty who’ve defended the actions of these students. (BTW, one of the YAF faculty advisors was a major campaigner for Proposition 2. Big surprise.) Here’s some YAF messages:

“Gays Spread Aids”
“Next time you see a Muslim, tell them that they are heretics to the one true faith.”
“If I had a blanket with smallpox on it, I’d give it to [name of Native American student].”
“Go back in the Closet.”

Not creating a hostile environment? Tell that to this student interviewed in the report:

“This caused [name redacted] great distress. She was in tears each time we met. She claims she was
extremely fearful for her safety after discovering she was being targeted.”

I know a lot of students that felt the same way.

Disappointing, MSU.

Other posts about YAF:

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Yikes. That post was more agitating than a cup of coffee.


  2. I encountered YAFFERs at William and Mary while at law school there in the early-to-mid 1970s. One of them was in my family-law class. When a case came up for discussion on a fine legal point concerning divorce, he took up five minutes telling us why God had made divorce verboten and thus why the case we were analyzing could have no relevance in light of God’s law. I noticed the whole lot of them, whether graduate students or undergrads, were remarkably short of a sense of humor.

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