As universities try to restrict free-speech, state legislators try to protect it

The UO administration finally gave the UO Senate a copy of their proposal to restrict free speech, here, and the Senate is now working on a less restrictive policy.  The Chronicle has a new report on the state legislation here (gated if off campus). An excerpt:

… So far, all of the lawmakers who have introduced such legislation have been Republicans. President Trump himself expressed anger this month, when violent protesters shut down an appearance by Mr. Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart editor, at the University of California at Berkeley.

In Virginia, however, Democratic members of that state’s House of Delegates played a substantial part in its passage this month of a bill briefly declaring that no public college there can abridge the freedom of anyone — including students, faculty members, employees, and invited guests — to speak on its campus.

Even before the 2016 presidential election made clear that the nation had become exceedingly polarized, some state legislatures had been moving to protect the speech rights of public-colleges students, mainly by barring such institutions from maintaining limited “free-speech zones” or by adopting new protections for student journalists.

The divisiveness that the election and its aftermath have brought to campuses, as well as recent uproars on campuses over certain speakers, appear to have heightened awareness of such speakers’ vulnerability to what is widely known as “the heckler’s veto” — protest disruptive enough to keep them from being heard.

The measure that North Carolina’s lieutenant governor has proposed is based heavily on model legislation devised by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank in Arizona, and by Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Ethics and Public Policy Center, in Washington, D.C.

Likewise, the Tennessee bill contains a provision calling for public colleges to punish people who interfere with the free-speech rights of others. The bill also has language providing that students may sue colleges that violate their speech rights for injunctive relief, attorney fees, and court costs.

A measure passed 65 to 25 by North Dakota’s House of Representatives, and now pending before that state’s Senate, takes a different, and somewhat softer, tack. It would require the State Board of Higher Education, which governs the North Dakota University System, to adopt a policy that prohibits public colleges from restricting speech, punishing students for free expression, or shielding students “from constitutionally protected expression merely because it is considered unwelcome, disagreeable, or offensive.” …

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5 Responses to As universities try to restrict free-speech, state legislators try to protect it

  1. Conservative Duck says:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Free speech zones are un-American in both the letter and the spirit of the law.

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    • ScoTusks says:

      Scalia didn’t agree:

      “A school must be able to set high standards for the student speech that is disseminated under its auspices–standards that may be higher than those demanded by some newspaper publishers or theatrical producers in the ‘real’ world–and may refuse to disseminate student speech that does not meet those standards. In addition, a school must be able to take into account the emotional maturity of the intended audience in determining whether to disseminate student speech on potentially sensitive topics, which might range from the existence of Santa Claus in an elementary school setting to the particulars of teenage sexual activity in a high school setting. A school must also retain the authority to refuse to sponsor student speech that might reasonably be perceived to advocate drug or alcohol use, irresponsible sex, or conduct otherwise inconsistent with ‘the shared values of a civilized social order,’, or to associate the school with any position other than neutrality on matters of political controversy. Otherwise, the schools would be unduly constrained from fulfilling their role as ‘a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment.'”

      Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier,
      484 U.S. 260 (1988).

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      • Conservative Duck says:

        ScoTusks, great find, thank you for that!

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      • Jose says:

        Hazelwood was a High School, and none of the Court’s rulings on Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, were meant to apply to College or University level.

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  2. Jose says:

    … Are you saying College students are children??

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