MONTCLAIR — Joseph Aziz admits he was “trolling” — internet slang for posting inflammatory comments online — when he wrote a comment below a YouTube video last fall saying a female classmate’s legs looked like “a pair of bleached hams.” Aziz, a Montclair State University graduate student from Weehawken, said he never imagined the jab at a stranger’s weight would prompt a complaint to university administrators, who forbade him from having any contact with the woman or talking about her on the internet. He was even more shocked, he said, when Montclair State officials called him into a disciplinary hearing a few weeks later after he mentioned the woman’s name while joking about the incident in a Facebook group he thought was private. Aziz’s punishment: a one-semester suspension and a note on his college transcript.
“I would hope other students in colleges across New Jersey never have to deal with something like this,” said Aziz, 26, who began his suspension this month. “Freedom of speech and due process are basic rights that we have come to expect as Americans. I hope my story draws attention to the fact that these rights can be violated by broad, overreaching university codes of conduct.” Now, Aziz’s case — which highlights the complex intersection of campus rules, social media and free speech rights — has attracted the attention of a national civil liberties group.
All in all I’d say calling a fat girl’s legs “a pair of bleached hams” and seeing it quoted in a newspaper is legitimately one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. That’s an A+ line. Pair of bleached hams. Gold. And listen as somebody whose workplace is The Internet and has a job of writing articles with open comments sections I hate trolls as much as anybody. Especially people who openly admit they were “just trolling.” But if there’s one thing I can always do it’s appreciate when the hate is funny and clever and makes me laugh at myself, and frankly if someone telling you your legs look like a pair of bleached hams doesn’t make you at least smile you’re a humorless asshole who probably deserves it. I mean I just can’t see how the civil liberties group doesn’t win their case here? Is this not textbook free speech? Last I checked this is America and in America you can anonymously make fun of fat girls on the wild wild west of the internet as much as you want. Certainly not get suspended from college for it. But then again everything these days is considered bullying including apparently calling fat legs pairs of bleached hams so go figure.