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Free Speech Struggle

Professor John Bonnell used to teach English at Macomb Community College.

But now he is suspended, after being told there are words in the English language he canÂ't use in class, reports CBS News Correspondent Lauren Bishop.

Â"IÂ'm only safe if IÂ'm reading the text,Â" Bonnell said.

The controversy started after a female student complained the professor used vulgar language that offended her in lectures. That language included profanity and a slang term for oral sex - words Bonnell admits using, but in the context of teaching, not aimed at students.

Â"I never used the language to injure anyone or to make anyone uncomfortable,Â" Bonnell added.

The 32-year teaching veteran is suing the college and accusing it of violating his civil rights and right to free speech.

The college says the faculty contract bars it from any comment.

Bonnell says the college has told him itÂ's all right to read to his students from classics by DH Lawrence and Henry Miller, books he says contain obscenities far beyond anything he has used in class.

But here is the catch: While he can read the books word for word to his class, he says, administrators won't allow him to discuss those books using the very same language he was allowed to read.

BonnellÂ's attorney, James Howarth said, Â"Eventually thatÂ's going to end up with a hot list or bad list of words you canÂ't use. ThatÂ's going to end up with a hot list of thoughts. ThatÂ's going to end up with book burning.Â"

Bonnell says it flies in the face of what college is all about - a place for freewheeling discussion.

Ironically, in the same room where the suspended professor used to teach, there is a poster from a foreign language class: It's a French cartoon of a politician exposing himself.

Apparently, no one has found it offensive.