There’s little doubt that if our Founders were somehow transported to 2019, they would probably recoil in horror at what’s taking place across America — especially on college campuses.
All across the fruited plains, the inalienable right to speak freely anywhere is now branded “HATE SPEECH.” Worst yet elected public officials are now branded “white supremacists” for supporting and sponsoring a bill ending the medieval practice on college campuses of free “speech zones,” in Alabama.
Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation Thursday banning the censorship of free speech on publicly-funded state campuses.
House Bill 498, sponsored by Republican Rep. Matt Fridy, requires that outdoor areas of publicly-funded Alabama campuses are public forums, effectively eliminating their “free speech zones.”
“The institution shall not create free speech zones or other designated outdoor areas of the campus to limit or prohibit protected expressive activities,” the bill states. In addition to banning free speech zones, the bill also states that any public college or university in the state cannot deny benefits to student organizations based on their “sincerely held beliefs.”
Adding, the bill does not protect speech that “substantially disrupts” the institution or “materially and substantially disrupt[s] the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity.”
Joe Cohn, a legislative and policy director for the free speech nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), explained that the new legislation does a good job in distinguishing between “protected speech” and speech that “infringes” on someone’s rights.
Adding, the bill is “a positive development for all of those who believe that students’ ability to speak their minds is of utmost concern on college campuses.”
However, not everyone believes in the First Amendment to the Constitution, protecting an individual’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Take for example Democrat state Rep. Juandalynn Givan who apparently takes issue with a portion of the bill, concerning the right of a student to invite any speaker they desire to speak on campus.
According to the Alabama Political Reporter, Democrat Givan has accused Republican Fridy of being a “white supremacist” because the bill would allow “alt-right” individuals to also speak on college campuses.
Givan, according to the Associated Press, stated within an interview, “I believe in my heart of hearts that this bill is designed to protect individuals that are racist.”
He then repeated the pejorative phrase for emphasis, stating, “Racist, racist, racist, racist, racist, racist, racist. That is all this is.”
Cohn commented on Givian’s claim that the bill is “racist” for letting “alt-right” individuals speak on campuses by stating that it creates a bad precedent if universities are allowed to deny individuals from speaking based on ideological views.
Adding, “Closing off institutions of higher education to unpopular views is incompatible with the context of academic freedom, and with the overall purpose of higher education,” Cohn told Campus Reform. “If campus administrators had the ability to silence views that they disliked in the past, that tool could have been used to stifle the civil rights movement in Alabama.”
Perhaps someone should instruct Rep. Givan that the First Amendment wasn’t designed by our Founders to protect accepted speech or politically correct speech; it was designed for just the opposite kind of speech, for the radical thinker, the unconventional dreamer and the unorthodox idealist, unafraid to speak their minds within an open and free society.