August 22, 2007

No Prosecution For Max Karson Over Virginia Tech Comments

No prosecution, no apologies:
A University of Colorado student arrested over comments he made in class following the Virginia Tech massacre accepted a deal in Boulder County District Court this morning that will leave his record unscathed if he stays out of trouble for a year.

CU junior Max Karson agreed to a “deferred prosecution” of the charges filed against him after he sparked a First Amendment firestorm in April with controversial comments during a classroom debate about the Virginia Tech shootings.

That means Karson won’t be prosecuted, he isn’t pleading guilty — he doesn’t even have to apologize for his remarks that upset several students — if he stays out of trouble for a year.

“I won’t see you again, right?” prosecutor Rob Shapiro asked Karson at the hearing.

Karson’s response: “Right.”
A victory for free speech, right? No--Karson should be more aware of "potentially" harmful statements:
Boulder County Judge Noel E. Blum said during the hearing that he has few concerns about approving the deferred prosecution, and he doesn’t think Karson will be back before the court.

Still, the judge warned Karson to think about the people he affects with his words, not just whether he’s allowed to speak them.

“This, to me, has more to do with humanity than First Amendment rights,” Blum said. “Part of being an adult means knowing how your actions affect other people. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.”

Blum challenged Karson to consider being decent and sensitive before engaging in potentially hurtful dialogue.
Did Karson lack tact? Probably. But isn't college about making bold, often offensive statements? Apparently only if you are Ward Churchill.

**Update from comments--Karson interview on 850KOA

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