The lowlight of the recent hearings in the United States House of Representatives on campus antisemitism came when Rep. Elise Stefanik asked the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) whether it would be bullying and harassment if someone on campus called for a genocide of Jews.

The presidents’ answers — that it depended on context — landed about as badly as they could have. Stefanik, a Trumpist Republican election denier, browbeat them and called it "unacceptable.” Since then, a chorus of other voices, including Josh Shapiro, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, has agreed.

The trouble is that, as it happens, the presidents were accurately describing their universities’ rules, which do depend on context. Even the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, which has criticized universities harshly over the years, says that "it’s hard to see” how the hypothetical sentence proposed by Stefanik could qualify as harassment.