The Anti-Free Speech Movement on America's College Campuses
The nation's leftists, whether in academia or the news media tout themselves as advocates of free speech. Back in 1964, it was Mario Savio a campus leftist who led the Free Speech Movement at the Berkeley campus of the University of California, a movement that without question played a vital role in placing American universities center stage in the flow of political ideas no matter how controversial, unpatriotic and vulgar.
From the Nazis to the Stalinists leftists have always supported free speech rights, at least initially. Why? Because speech is important for the realization of leftist goals of command and control. People must be propagandized, proselytized and convinced. However, once the leftists are in power, as they are in most universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on college campuses and even finds its way into the work place.
West Virginia University's student handbook reads in part: "Individuals or organizations may utilize designated free speech areas on a first-come, first-served basis without making reservations." Adding, ". . .the two designated areas for free speech and assembly will be the amphitheater area of the Mountainlair plaza and the concrete stage area in front of the Mountainlair and adjacent to the WVU Bookstore." In other words, 99 percent of West Virginia's campus was made into a censorship zone.
This Nazi-Stalinist-like policy did not last long. The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) began a campaign of public exposure and the Charlottesville, Virginia-based Rutherford Institute brought suit. This persuaded West Virginia University's Board of Governors to promulgate a new policy that abolishes censorship zones saying, "Assemblies of persons may occur on any grounds on the campus outside of buildings." While censorship zones have been eliminated at West Virginia University, they continue to exist at Appalachia State University, Florida State University, Illinois State, the University of Texas, Austin and the University of Houston and about 15 other universities across the country.
According to a Washington Post (11/21/02), Harvard Law School is considering a ban on offensive speech. Members of its Black Law Students Association has called for what they call "a discriminatory harassment policy that would basically punish or at least give the administration some way to review harassing behavior." Harvard's Committee on Healthy Diversity - made up of six faculty, six students and three law school staff members - will make its recommendations in the spring. It might be that Harvard's black law students, like so many other students, have come to believe that they have a constitutional right not to be offended or have their feelings hurt.
Universities that have been trying to quash free speech have encountered some court reversals of their...