Posts Tagged ‘free speech zones’
This was originally posted at AmericanEncore.org
At colleges and universities across the country there are designated “free speech zones.” College administrators limit political speech and activity to one area. As Virginia Postrel explains:
A “free speech zone” is a tiny portion of campus, usually far away from the main thoroughfares, where students are allowed to hand out leaflets or hold protests and rallies only after they have filed the proper paperwork and given plenty of notice.
Designating a limited “free speech zone” does much more than keep noisy demonstrations away from quiet study spaces. It’s a way of squelching spontaneous action or immediate responses to controversial news. Free speech zones, says FIRE president Greg Lukianoff, “teach students that speech should be contained by officials, controlled and feared, rather than celebrated, utilized and engaged.”
Putting aside the absurdity of free speech zones, it must be discussed how loosely some campuses define controversial or political speech. As this blognoted earlier this week, American values and knowledge of our freedoms have eroded because anti-American forces have been institutionalized. Our schools, colleges, media and even some in our government are actively working against American ideals.
Last week we learned just how far we’ve come from Reagan’s call for “informed patriotism” when the University of Hawaii told a group of students that they weren’t allowed to hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution. The college administrators explained their decision by saying:
The University policy [for events] says that RISOs [Registered Independent Student Organizations]can’t approach people. We run a diverse campus and people can feel intimidated and it’s like they [the students] can’t say no. We have a free speech zone for students to use and it’s between the theater and new student services building….
This isn’t really the 60’s anymore. People can’t really protest like that anymore, times have really changed since the movement back then…
Indeed, times have changed. University of Hawaii administrators are acknowledging the rules of exercising our freedoms have changed, but are unrepentant about their role in it. In the 1960s, students rightly protested unjust laws. Today, students are barred from handing out copies of the supreme law of the U.S. on the rights of citizens and the responsibilities and limits of government. Current campus rebels aren’t breaking the law, they’re educating fellow students about it! What’s more, the administrators claim students can feel “intimidated” by those who are sharing a document that limits government and grants rights to U.S. citizens.
These students at the University of Hawaii and students across the country who are standing up to campus administrators give me hope in the resurgence of the defense of our freedoms. I’m also grateful to organizations like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for representing students in their fight against college administrations. It’s not just enough to support fellow Americans, we must also encourage them to continue speaking out and using the tools we have to ensure that they can always do so freely.