California College Tells Student He Can't Hand Out Copies Of The Constitution On Constitution Day


As an American with First Amendment rights, you’d probably assume that a “Free Speech Zone” would look something like this:

The blue on that map should represent areas where you can exercise your right to free speech. Unfortunately, for many college students, their “Free Speech Zone” shrinks considerably when on campus. One out of every six major colleges have designated “Free Speech Zones” where students are “permitted” to “enjoy” this Constitutional right, and even then there are restrictions. In these colleges, exercising your right to free speech means asking permission at least a couple of days in advance as well as having the administration “approve” your speech.

The latest example of confined and controlled speech comes to us courtesy of Modesto Junior College. As reports, a student found his exercise of free speech shut down on one of the worst days of the year for a college to assert its negative attitude towards the First Amendment.

In a stunning illustration of the attitude taken towards free speech by too many colleges across the United States, Modesto Junior College in California told a student that he could not pass out copies of the United States Constitution outside the student center on September 17, 2013—Constitution Day. Captured on video, college police and administrators demanded that Robert Van Tuinen stop passing out Constitution pamphlets and told him that he would only be allowed to pass them out in the college’s tiny free speech zone, and only after scheduling it several days or weeks ahead of time.

After 10 minutes of handing out these pamphlets, Van Tuinen was approached by a campus police officer. After some discussion regarding the ridiculousness of shutting down free speech on Constitution Day and Van Tuinen’s repeated assertion of his rights, the campus cop tells him to take it up with administration.

[The officer sends out a little cheap shot before Van Tuinen moves on, telling him, “Look at you. You’re shaking.” This is a common cop tactic designed to both a) cast suspicion on the person and b) assert the officer’s control of the situation. The fact that it’s a byproduct of the fight-or-flight response is ignored. People speaking to armed authority figures will often appear nervous because that’s how the human brain works. It’s not solely a byproduct of fear or guilt. It’s adrenaline being pumped with no available outlet.]

The response he receives from administration is no less ridiculous, considering it relies heavily on quoting policy rather than acknowledging the absurdity of shutting down free speech on Constitution Day. (As if it would be any less ridiculous on any other day of the year, but Constitution Day?)

Upon arriving at that office, Van Tuinen talks with administrator Christine Serrano, who tells him that because of “a time, place, and manner,” he can only pass out literature inside the “free speech area,” which she informs him is “in front of the student center, in that little cement area.” She asks him to fill out an application and asks to photocopy his student ID. Hauling out a binder, Serrano says that she has “two people on campus right now, so you’d have to wait until either the 20th, 27th, or you can go into October.” Van Tuinen protests that he wants to pass out the Constitution on Constitution Day, at which point Serrano dismissively tells him “you really don’t need to keep going on.”

So, now everything’s clear. In a nation where free speech is one of the foundations of society, an American in a public American college (founded by legislation and infused with public money via grants) is restricted to “that little cement area” (see below) — and then only with advance notice and permission. Free speech possibly available in October — get your reservation in now!

<img alt=”That ‘little cement area” “=”” data-cke-saved-src=”” src=”” style=”width: 500px; height: 372px;”/>

As FIRE’s Robert Shibley points out, there’s really no way Modesto Junior College could have handled this situation any worse than it did.

“Virtually everything that Modesto Junior College could do wrong, it did do wrong. It sent police to enforce an unconstitutional rule, said that students could not freely distribute literature, placed a waiting period on free speech, produced an artificial scarcity of room for free speech with a tiny ‘free speech area,’ and limited the number of speakers on campus to two at a time. This was outrageous from start to finish. Every single person at Modesto responsible for enforcing this policy should have known better.”

Free speech isn’t something you box up and dole out. It’s the right of all citizens. Modesto Junior College should know this, being a public college, but has apparently decided it’s much easier to avoid uncomfortable or unpopular speech by violating its students’ First Amendment rights.

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Comments on “California College Tells Student He Can't Hand Out Copies Of The Constitution On Constitution Day”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: police just doing his job

I agree with you that the guards in the concentration camps were “Just doing their jobs” (Such as the after mentioned security officer), but I like to look at it this way:

What would have been the repercussions to the officer if he didn’t enforce the colleges policy?

He’s in a tough spot (Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t) we shouldn’t go around attacking the messenger as you know. We should instead be pushing to remove the colleges “Free Speech” zoning. Besides, there’s no saying that he DIDN’T also think that the rule was ridiculous cause any sensible human being can see that quite clearly.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 police just doing his job

I agree that the root problem if the administration not the cop, but…

Besides, there’s no saying that he DIDN’T also think that the rule was ridiculous cause any sensible human being can see that quite clearly.

If he did think the rule was ridiculous, then enforcing it speaks very poorly for his character. Someone with integrity would have refused to do so and been relieved that they no longer have to work for a bunch of scumbags.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 police just doing his job

Some people cant afford to lose their jobs

That’s no excuse. I understand it — believe me, I’ve been in that position quite a few times in my life — but it’s rarely actually true in an absolute sense.

What may be true is that losing a job is a tremendous sacrifice and leads to struggle and strife. But, nonetheless, doing something that you consider immoral just because you can’t afford to lose the paycheck makes you a hypocrite at best, and equally culpable at worst.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 police just doing his job

What you do as the guard is tell the kid the rules, as him if he understands the said rule you recited to him and move on to secure the rest of campus. Then he’d have at least enough time to do what he’s doing until the next round. But I might end up distracted taking care of some other matter and not get back to making sure that kid isn’t still expressing his constitutional rights.

I’ve use similar tactics in my job as a security officer. I eventually moved on to jobs with less opportunities for me to work as an extension for oppressive institutions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why should we not attack the messenger?

Enough many attacked, there won’t be any wanting the job any more. The price will rise. At some point it will be too expensive.
Besides, he’s not just a messenger, he plays a vital role in this – he is in fact enforcing the policy. Which leaves even fewer reasons not to attack him…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: N?rnberg 1946

Your profession does not entitle you to abdicate your moral and ethical duties as a human being.

If you’re in uniform, it does, because you’re taught that your moral and ethical duties as a human being are secondary to The Law.

And in third-world dictatorial hellholes, the laws only apply to the guys who don’t wear the uniform. Like in the People’s Democratic Republic of Free America.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: police just doing his job

Not an excuse. Police officers are (or should be if they’re not) trained/educated in US law, including the Constitution. While I don’t know exactly to what degree, I’d expect for them to, ya know, be familiar with the First Amendment and the freedom to make speech. A US cop arresting someone or threatening to arrest someone when EVERY SINGLE piece of evidence and data available to them at the time points to the person not committing a crime is a cop who should himself be jailed for abuse of power.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re: Re: police just doing his job

This is an attempt by the school/state to intimidate and bully students such as this one into giving up their Constitutional rights. It’s something taken directly out of a communist playbook, because the people who put forth such measures clearly have an agenda to silence any speech they find undesirable.

On a related subject, should the thoroughly unconstitutional, anti-American Shield Law go into effect, the state will use its unchecked authority to intimidate and bully so-called independent journalists (who don’t act in lockstep with state and corporate-owned MSM propaganda) in much the same way.

Allowing the state to define things such as “free speech zones,” journalism or anything else forebodes trouble.

CB says:

Re: Re: police just doing his job

Police just doing his job can also be police just being sued for everything he now owns and everything he ever will own for violating the students human rights and natural rights. Just following orders does not exempt one from liability. Carrying out unlawful orders makes one even more culpable than those issuing the orders.

FREE Speech means not having to jump thru hoops says:

Re: Re: police just doing his job

Some of the most evil things in all history were done by people who were “just doing their job.” Think of Germany in the 1940s, if you want an example.

By the way, free speech means not having to jump through hoops to reply on a blog post about free speech (having to give name, email, and MAYBE get added to an unwanted email list — even if you didn’t check the box?)

Davey says:

Re: Re:

Police? What’s a “campus police officer”, anyway? Does he have any legal authority or is he just a rent a cop hired by the so-called college?

More to the point, it’s the school administration that should be subject to investigation and loss of their jobs. They have no business in academia, since they have zero understanding or interest in little things like history, law, and government. And especially in basic Constitutional rights. If we’re going to direct scorn on anyone, it should be the top administration. Nothing less will do.

BTW, great intro to the story with the map and all. Makes the point beautifully.

Arthur Moore (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Campus police are state troopers, and thanks to federal and state law campus property is treated differently than private property. Campus administration normally takes this to mean they can do whatever they want, and if you disagree then you get fined or arrested. Don’t pay the fine, don’t get your transcript. So you can’t transfer and you can’t graduate.

While this is the first time I’ve heard of such blatant disregard of free speech issues, my Uni required us to fill out “party permits” or the cops would bust in and kick everyone out. What constitutes a “Party” is up to the officer. Too many people, well that’s a party.

That’s a violation of the First Amendment, but the reason no one does anything is because they would find something else to charge everyone with. That friend of a friend that you don’t know, but is there. If he’s under 21 and brought a flask, everyone’s screwed. It doesn’t matter if the flask was in a backpack and no one knew it was there.

Digger says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ahh, but that officer has no right to intervene or to incite issues.

So, if the asshat starts something, he needs to lose his status as an officer of the law and be turned into
a criminal, and deal with him as such by throwing him to the glass-shard covered ground and arresting him with fuzzy hand-cuffs.

That’s what he would do once he wound you up and incited you to riot. Cops seem to feel they have power, power to do whatever the fuck they want – disabuse them of this fantasy, in the strongest way possible. Take them down, arrest them via citizens arrest, with full video, explaining why you are arresting them (for inciting to riot) and refusal to act in a manner consistent with being an officer of the law.

Next step, talk to your congress-critters about re-working the laws to turn cops/feds that break the law into criminals. Any laws – this includes the full constitution.

Cops/Feds/Judges/Attornies General/Elected Officials/Administrators that violate the constitution deserve a one way ticket to gitmo, there to stay until the day they die.

College level peons that violate the constitution just need to be blacklisted, publicly tarred, feathered, tied to the back of an ass and driven out of town.

Digger says:

Re: Uhh - Fuck that - the entire administration needs to resign


Every college administrator of every college that even attempts to restrict freedom of speech in any way has to have an immediate cessation of all federal, state and local funds.

All grants, terminated.
All loans, terminated.

Every administrator fired, blacklisted and never able to work in education ever again.


Anything less and well, maybe we should just enforce our right to bear arms and stand outside these colleges and use our rights of citizen arrest to take them in ourselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: staged

Since we require registration “ahead of time” for firearms in direct contravention of the 2nd, why not just do it for the 1st? If you think “guns are a different issue & don’t compare” then you have no right to complain when the government or publicly funded orgs encroach upon other rights the Constitution was written to prevent the government from interfering with.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: staged

Lesse… The difference between speech, religion, free press and organizing vs the right to bear arms…

Free speech doesn’t kill people directly, though it can incite people to kill. Religion, if done by moderates and not extremists doesn’t kill, as seen by the billions of people who practice religion and don’t kill others, free press, so long as it’s the truth, doesn’t seem to kill anything, other than a politicians career, and organizing protests/marches, so long as they’re not violent, doesn’t hurt anyone.

And… Guns, guns injure, maim, paralyze, and kill, a gun’s only purpose is to bring harm to others.

I think there IS a big difference between the 1st (most important amendment) and the 2nd (nowhere near as important amendment) amendments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 staged

I would challenge you to cite a single war throughout all of history that did not begin with political speech of some sort. Words are dangerous.

Guns don’t have to do any of the things you describe, it’s all about how they’re used. I don’t understand the disconnect with people who share your viewpoint.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 staged

Words are dangerous, they can start stuff, I never denied that.

But guns, really, what is the primary thing a gun does? It fires bullets. What do those bullets do? Strike things. If it strikes a living thing, it causes harm.

The primary purpose of words is to communicate.

I don’t understand the disconnect with people who share your viewpoint.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re: Re:4 staged

Far more people are killed in motor vehicle accidents, medical mistakes, and by various other means than by guns on an annual basis. In fact, murders caused by firearms has dropped drastically over the past decade. Should the law-abiding citizens, the 99%, be punished for the actions of less than .01%, the criminals who, for the most part, acquire their guns illegally and target mostly innocent people in primarily gun control-heavy cities and “gun-free zones”?

All of this notwithstanding, the 2nd Amendment was written so as to prevent government from infringing upon your inalienable right to self-defense. The 2nd Amendment is the bedrock of the Constitution, the most important of all, as it ensures all other rights — if it goes, kiss the rest of your Constitutional rights goodbye forever.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 staged

And what rights has the 2nd amendment protected lately?

Right to privacy and the 4th Amendment? Torn to shreds by the NSA. Sure glad we have guns!

5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Amendments? Huh, heard Manning was in solitary confinement for over 2 years before sentenced to 35 years. Sure glad we have guns! Oh! And let’s not forget all the settlements out of court that prevent many trials from happening. Sure am glad that guns are protecting us!

flat stare

seriously, I’m not saying take away all the guns, but the 2nd amendment is NOT that fucking important of an amendment.

I would rather take the guns away if it meant giving us back full access to the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th amendments.

And I’m someone who lives in an area where you can take time off from school or work to go hunting legally.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re: Re:6 staged

Are you putting forth the notion that the government can hold the rest of our Constitutionally-protected rights as ransom in exchange for our 2nd Amendment rights? Such an absurd notion. If the people willfully handed over their guns, the very first thing the government would do is eliminate both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

All power is derived from the people, not the other way around. As was once said, the 2A won’t become necessary until they try and take it away.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 staged

I find it weird that you keep harping on the fact that one of the less useful amendments, one that has so many supporters, if it was gone, would mean that all other amendments and the constitution would be gone.

Deep breath

Well… Tell me, what has the 2nd Amendment protected lately?

Other countries, France, Germany, Japan, Britain, Poland, they don’t have the 2nd Amendment, they don’t have the government going around left and right taking away their freedoms and becoming a fascist police state any faster than the U.S. is becoming.

Look, I’m not saying “take away the guns” like you seem to THINK I’m saying.

What I’m saying is that the 2nd Amendment is NOWHERE near as important as the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th amendments are.

RadialSkid (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 staged

They’re all important, and none should be trivialized.

And if we didn’t have access to arms, it’s safe to say our rights would be far more erroded than they currently are. You mention various European nations, yet all of them have greater restrictions on personal freedoms than the US, especially that Orwellian shithole known as the United Kingdom.

Harley says:

Re: Re: Re: staged

Anonymous Coward, there presently is NO firearms registration in the United States. This is what the Leftists are promoting for our future by way of the Obama administration and the Leftist Democrat Senate. There IS an FBI background check for the purchaser of a firearm from a Federally licensed firearms dealer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: staged

I am not the original AC that wrote it but keep in mind… your government officials believe exactly this. Obama, Holder, & vast majority of law enforcement believes exactly this.

Whether or not the original AC believes it or not… it is important to understand that more than enough of the ‘relevant’ people do believe exactly this.

Harley says:

Re: Re: Re: staged

Anonymous Coward, this is NOT funny. Our Constitutional rights are being attacked, violated, and walked upon by people that wish this country did not exist – and you want to laugh about it. Well comedian, laugh about this: In the previous century, after their firearms were confiscated via gun control laws, 60 million people were rounded up and exterminated by THEIR OWN GOVERNMENTS. Are you laughing NOW?

I'm_Having_None_Of_It says:

Re: Re: Re:2 staged

Right… so it had nothing to do with antisemitism or racial purity policies?

In Great Britain, you have to have a license to own a gun. We have very little gun crime, despite the frantic assertions I hear from right wingers from across the pond who only read the Murdoch and libertarian press.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re: Re:3 staged

“The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to ‘create’ rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting.” – William J Brennan Jr.

You may have little gun crime but you also have far more assault crimes than we do per capita and no means of self-defense should your government decide to turn the screws and take away whatever freedoms you have left.

Besides, gun crime here isn’t the epidemic that the MSM portrays it as being. There are an est. 15,000 deaths by fireamrs per year, down from about 28,000 a couple decades ago. What of the tens of millions of responsible gun owners who don’t commit crimes? Do you advocate for disarming them?

DNY (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 staged

You do realize that “gun crime” is a specious category created for propaganda reasons. The murder victim is just as dead and his or her friends and relatives just as bereaved if the crime was committed with a knife or poison or the assailant’s fists and booted feet than if it was done with a firearm. The unarmed pensioner menaced by a young tough with a knife is just as endangered and just as likely to turn over the money she is carrying as the same old woman menaced with a handgun.

The murder rate in the U.K. was lower than in the U.S. generally in the early 1900’s when neither had significant legal impediments to firearms ownership, and, tellingly, than it was in New York state from 1911 onward when the Sullivan Act restricted gun ownership in New York, but His Majesty’s subjects were free to own guns.

Likewise the murder rate in Russia is much higher than in the U.S. even though per capita private firearms ownership is about 1/10th that in the U.S. I suppose it’s a great comfort to the relative of murdered Russians that it wasn’t “gun crime”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: staged

All the admin needed to do was to acknowledge he was passing out copies of the US Constitution on Constitution Day and not attempting to sway someone with some kind of morality or religious pamphlet on (their) campus. Its not as if he was trying to start a riot over the US Constitution either, albeit maybe trying to get someone fired up over the greatest American document ever written in the world! Can I get an Amen, people? COME ON!!!

DNY (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: staged

And why do you think that “attempting to sway someone with some kind of morality or religious pamphlet” should be treated differently than passing out Constitutions?

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press (pamphlets and copies of the Constitution are printed) only work when the protect speech and writing that someone objects to (as you evidently object to printed advocacy of morality or religion). I think the Framers of the Constitution thought it protected the advocacy of immorality and irreligion, even though they objected to those every bit as much as the biens pensants of turn of 21st century America object to morality and religion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: staged

The point your apparently missing is that exercise of a Constitutional right can not be limited by a requirement of prior consent, i.e. he never needed the permission of the administration or anyone else to exercise a right which he, and every other American citizen, has (or should have) by right of birth.

Did he stage the confrontation as you suggest? Perhaps. But whether he did or didn’t is completely irrelevant and doesn’t in any way alter the behavior of the administration or its’ offensiveness.

DNY (profile) says:

Re: staged

Oh, all he needed to do was register? Did you read the article? Maybe at your university registration lets a student exercise their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press un-molested by the campus “authorities”, but evidently at Modesto, it does so only if you confine your activities to a tiny “free speech area” and to a time-window some at some future date when the limit of two free-speakers per day isn’t yet used up.

Private universities and colleges which limit free speech that is not disrupting classes deserve to be mocked and shamed. Public universities which do the same deserve to be mocked, shamed, and sued into submission to the First and Fourteenth Amendments, since their administrators and campus security personnel are agents of the state, and as such subject to the limits the Constitution places on the government.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m sure if it security stopped the Westboro Baptist from handing out literature. No one would be complaining.

No, no using that.

Because I will counter with this…

“First they came for speech I didn’t like, so I said nothing. Then they came for speech that didn’t affect me, so I said nothing. Now they come for my speech, but now no one can say anything.”

For for pete’s sake all he needed to do was follow proper procedures.

Middle of the day, not causing a riot, not endangering anyone’s life, not saying anything cruel or mean…

I’d say he did.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So should someone that is not associated with the university be allowed to had out literature.


I’m sure if it security stopped the Westboro Baptist from handing out literature. No one would be complaining

I absolutely would. What the literature says is irrelevant.

For for pete’s sake all he needed to do was follow proper procedures

You mean the procedures designed to limit his ability to speak? He did the right thing here — his whole point was to put the institutions unconstitutional policies in the spotlight.

Andrew F (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Incorrect. There are, however, some rulings that would suggest the contrary: (neo-Nazi march in a Jewish community protected) (law against cross burning unconstitutional) (Westboro’s picketing a funeral protected)

Jason Calley says:

Re: Re: Re:

” for pete’s sake all he needed to do was follow proper procedures.”

Yes, and that is exactly what he did, he followed procedure for exercising his right to free speech. He stood there and spoke and handed out literature without anyone’s permission. That IS proper procedure under our Constitutional government. What the college and the police officer did was the violation of proper procedure. The college and the police were also not “just doing their job.” Part of their job includes obeying the law, and the law (in the Constitution) says that the student had every right to freely speak WITHOUT requiring anyone’s permission.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Re:


How short sighted and ignorant.

Might I suggest a class or two in history?

“So should someone that is not associated with the university be allowed to had out literature. “


“I’m sure if it security stopped the Westboro Baptist from handing out literature. No one would be complaining.”

Then you would be wrong! I despise the Westboro Baptist Church, but if you take away their rights today, you can be sure someone will be taking your rights away tomorrow.

“For for pete’s sake all he needed to do was follow proper procedures.”

Yeah, I think that has been said somewhere before as well. Just register, that is all we ask… Well wear this yellow star… … …

John Nemesh says:

Re: Re:

500? 5,000,000 maybe! Between the erosion of Constitutional Rights, pick an Amendment, it’s been eroded…the Government wants to decide who gets to be a “journalist”, eroding 1st Amendment rights, limiting importation of those scary black guns, eroding our 2nd, they pretty much tossed the 4th Amendment entirely, because, you know, TERRORISM! The NSA is well on the way to just redacting the whole 4th wholesale as well! Then you have courts ruling that the 5th Amendment only works if you actually ask for it by name…so you better have your copy of the Bill of Rights handy if you ever get arrested! And heaven help those ignorant of the 5th or forget to ask! I could go on, but I get more enraged with each sentence here.

No, our very core, the Constitution and Bill of Rights has been under attack for DECADES, and we just let it happen.

EroticReader says:

my reactions to this article

The only way to get the eggheads up top to listen to us is to sue them for violating a constitutional right (not just any constitutional right, but the FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT one.There was a good reason why it was made the very first constitutional right.) I’m pretty sure that the university could be held liable for such a policy and would have to compensate the students for their censored speech

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They should have a succession of people stand in different areas of the campus one at a time to pass out copies of the constitution. When one person gets told to leave the next person can start in another area of the campus and claim no knowledge of the others if confronted on this. There’s only so much security on campus and they can’t be everywhere at once.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Strangely enough

The college I’m currently attending as part of my education for my future econ degree actually had a literal box for its free speech zone at one point.

The zone’s old location is a large courtyard that was sandwiched between the ground level of cafeteria/student union building and the current location of the social science division’s office. Today there’s a rather nice looking fountain in front this courtyard. There are several concrete barriers dividing the area in half, not to mention the outdoor hallways on the second floor that look down on the courtyard below.

I’ve actually stopped in that area a few times before heading up to the room for my stat course and taken a quick look around. There’s sort of an intimidating “obey the rules or else!” vibe lingering in the atmosphere.

It should be noted that this courtyard was specifically set up as the college’s Free speech/protest zone during the 1960s during the protests over the Vietnam war, and now it’s simply an outdoor area for people who want to eat outside the cafeteria (they’ve got some nice concrete picnic tables and benches now).

Based on what I’ve witnessed over past few years, if my college still has a designated free speech area, it’s currently located in front of the fountain which sits in front of the old courtyard. This means that a group exercising the right to free speech, that the area the college wants them to do it is located in the center of the campus, so it’s pretty much guaranteed that if you’re trying to get from one side of the college to the other, you’ll at least see the folks who are exercising their First Amendment rights, if nothing else. Although the only groups I’ve seen in the area in front of the fountain that were handing out pamphlets of any kind were a bunch of student from the college’s local Democrat group, and some nice folks (probably) from the Mormon/LDS Temple across the street from campus.

But I digress.

Looking at the map of MJC’s campus, it looks like the “Free Speech area” was placed in the middle of campus, but situated so that it’s effectively out of the way and students passing through the middle of campus to get to classes won’t pay any attention to folks exercising their free speech. Maybe it’s some kind of “seen but not heard” type deal by the college.

Should be interesting to see where this goes.

As the Zen Master says, “We’ll see.”

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The Boundaries of Tolerance of Actively Unpopular Free Speech.

When I was at the University of Cincinnati (1977-1986), there was a man named Max Lynch, otherwise known as Brother Max, who went preaching on college campuses across the Midwest. The website cited below is written by a sympathizer (Brother Jed), of course, but it will be correct about things like dates and places. What happened during a Brother Max appearance is more disputable, being subject to the eye of the beholder. I would say that Brother Max was undoubtedly crazy. At any rate, during his appearances at Cincinnati, he took up his stand on a wide pedestrian bridge leading from the student union towards the university president’s office, and began telling the students, in an oddly genial manner, that they were all fornicators, and that God was going to blast them to hell with his “Super Cosmic Ray Gun.” The students naturally stayed and howled back at him, but it didn’t occur to anyone to toss Brother Max over the side of the bridge (*). It was not quite a riot, but in an odd limbo. The campus police observed, but refrained from action, while of course being instantly available if the argument should turn physical. On the fringes of the crowd, I recall the Hillel House pantomime-camel walking by, looking like an outsize moth-eaten children’s toy. I vaguely remember Brother Jed– he was an acolyte, more or less subsumed in Brother Max’s personality. Brother Max had a female sidekick on some visits. I don’t remember her name, but she wore a long dress and a sun-hat. She didn’t have the same magnetism as Brother Max. She sounded obviously lower class, and what came across was her personal resentment of the female students. All in all, it was a pretty enlivening performance.

The University of Cincinnati has recently got caught up in its own “free speech zone” controversy. If Cincinnati could take Brother Max in its stride, it can surely manage something better than a “free speech zone.” How are the mighty fallen!

(*) About twenty feet down, onto a concrete driveway.

Abe Vigoda says:

Free Speech Zones at College

The writer of the article had better learn what the tight to free speech is. It is the freedom we have from the federal government not allowing us to declare our opinion anywhere. Any private institution has no obligation whatsoever to provide free speech. Even if we believe that, because of the subject, free speech should be allowed, it is not. If it were, a student would likewise have the right to dispense obscene or hateful material under the same guise. Sorry, but I suggest you reread the Constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Free Speech Zones at College

Can’t tell if you are serious or not (guessing serious) but you might want to be the one brushing up on law here.

There are already laws in place for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct. You may want to read the comments here again and the comments on the post at Popehat for more about this particular subject and how this applies. Theose comments better tackle this point specifcally.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: Free Speech Zones at College

Well, here’s the keyword: “The college is part of the Yosemite Community College District within the California Community Colleges System”. We are talking about a portion of the state government of California. We are not talking about Harvard, and still less about Hillsdale College in Michigan, which really is sticky about taking government money.

In addition, we are talking about a college, which is not supposed to treat students as children, and therefore does not have the kinds of prerogatives of exclusion that, say, a middle school might have. As a general principle, a community college campus is open to the public. A stranger is welcome to go to any of the academic departments and ask to talk to someone about something, and, within reason, he can get a free scientific consultation. Modesto Junior College is not proposing to go into lock-down, issuing passes over the internet, which would be required to come on campus, via a check-point. It is merely proposing to ration political free-speech, to cease to provide an Agora. Like a shopping center, the college has apparently decided that unauthorized political speech is bad. Look at the “campus clubs” list. See in particular the entry for the College Republicans. Also, see the “film and lecture” list…. and the performing arts advertisement.

You can do almost anything at Modesto Junior College– provided that you have an official adviser, a professor willing to sponsor and supervise you. The man who sponsors the College Republicans teaches electronics.

Anonymous Coward says:

New World Order

Is it now no wonder that this is really showing its teeth? The US Constitution has, in fact, been a severe encumberbrance of an obstacle for the proliferation of a new world order that has been running higher education among a lot of things for their single mindset. This is absolutely sickening. This student should write this off to education on the highest level.

Poor Richard (profile) says:

Constitutional Rights

Our forefathers gave us the Constitution and Amendments and we have seen them being eroded by swarmey politicians for their own self serving interests. The second amendment was to protect the people from its own too strong federal government. How insightful of them to realize how perpetual politicians would attempt to congregate power to be used against the citizenry. Professional political parties are the bane of representative government. They are more interested in the power of the party than the power of the people the are elected to represent.

A Retired Community College Teacher (profile) says:

Modesto JC Anti-Constitutional Behavior

The “Perp” should have referenced the Officer’s Oath of Office wherein he has sworn to uphold the Constitution. And then he should have shown the Constitution to the officer and asked why he was being harassed, by an officer “just doing his duty.” Had he not enforced the egregious school rule, he would have been subject to disciplinary action by the administration. As for the administrator–she’s typical of the ignoramuses who make such policies.

We need more “confrontations” like this to shine light on the cockroaches who under the guise of preventing “bullying” and other acts, have turned colleges into iron curtain age protectorates allowing speech to those who have the “permission” of the authorities!

Frederic Christie (user link) says:

Just... Just Learn Some Law

“Free speech zones” are an outcome of repeatedly upheld standards about time, place and manner that the Supreme Court has declared over and over again. You can’t distribute copies of the Constitution in a classroom or a private residence either, nor can you yell at a teacher during a class. Why is it fair that these students break the rules for legitimate protest?

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