Wisconsin Speech Bill Tries To Keep Universities Neutral On Public Policy Debates, Which Is Batshit Crazypants

from the that's-not-how-free-speech-works dept

As you are likely already aware, there is something of a debate about debates that occur on college campuses these days. Amidst a climate of ultra-polarized politics, there have been several high profile incidents on college campuses involving a revolt by student bodies -- and, allegedly, outside troublemakers -- over specific speakers invited onto campus and topics opened for debate. In reaction to these revolts that generally end with colleges uninviting speakers, some states have decided to try to legislate against this sort of thing in the name of free speech. It's one of those unhappy circumstances in which everyone on every side appears to be wrong. Student revolts and petitions to uninvite speakers are themselves a form of speech and worthy of protection, even if that sort of thing is antithetical to the university experience and ultimately works counter to the aims of the students doing the revolting. Meanwhile, the uninvited and their supporters are shouting about censorship in a way that suggests their views must be tolerated without reaction, which is a complete misunderstanding of how free speech works. As for the politicians, the haphazard decision to legislate on matters of speech in this matter betrays a lack of understanding of how sacred our free expression laws are in America and the care with which any lawmakers ought to take on the topic.

For an example of that, we need only look to Wisconsin, where a bill is being considered in reaction to all of this that would essentially force universities to take no position on any current topic that can be seen as controversial. School administrators are rightly concerned about the laughably vague language in the bill.

The trouble comes from this section of the bill: “That each institution shall strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day, and may not take action, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students or faculty to publicly express a given view of social policy.”

While the bills’ scope is focused on public events involving invited speakers, there are a couple key questions here. University officials want to know how far this requirement “to remain neutral” extends. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has spoken out against proposed bans on stem cell research on campus. Would the university run afoul of this law if it did so again?

It's a good and fair question, because once this legislative ball gets rolling, gravity is likely to tug it further down the path than supporters of the bill had originally intended. And it's worth reminding everyone considering supporting this bill that its words can cut both ways. Just because today we're talking about a topic a person on one end of the political spectrum cares about doesn't mean the other end can't use this law to force their views on campus in the same way. Whatever your political leanings, it's worth being concerned when government attempts to stifle the viewpoint of a school and its students.

And, of course, nobody is clear that this is limited even to speakers and public positions on campus, thanks to the overly broad language in the bill. When questioned, Jesse Kremer, who sponsored the bill, suggested that the legislation could also reach its spindly fingers into the classroom...

And although the bill is not focused on classrooms, Kremer suggested that such a student could potentially bring a complaint to a “Council on Free Expression” the bill would create—a body composed of leaders from each state school and two politicians.

...before going completely off the rails.

When one Democrat at a hearing asked Republican Representative and bill sponsor Jesse Kremer whether a geology professor would be allowed to tell a student who believed the Earth to be 6,000 years old that they are wrong, Kremer bristled. “The Earth is 6,000 years old. That’s a fact,” he said.

And here you see the problem. What one person claims to be fact is, in fact, plainly absurd. And a law that protects students or invited speakers from being told that it's absurd, either by the student body or the university, is a laughable law fit for the waste bin. If students and speakers are such innocent snowflakes that they cannot handle having their views ridiculed, then the university is no place for them. This too should cut both ways, of course, except that the students shouting down controversial speakers is itself a form of speech, whereas legislation neutering that same speech is censorious in the worst way.

Do students need to be more open minded on campuses today? Sure, I think that's fair. Should lawmakers with the barest grip on their own reality be legislatively forcing speakers onto campus as a consequence? Obviously not.


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:49am

    Well, now I wonder if referring to Jesse Kremer as a fool would run afoul of his proposed law.

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  • identicon
    Anon, 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:51am

    No Free Speech For Fascists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 27 Jun 2017 @ 5:15am

      Re: No Free Speech For Fascists.

      Free speech for all, whether we like it or not. However, there is no right to be heard and people should be free to avoid or ignore speech they're not interested in.

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  • identicon
    Anon, 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:57am

    No Free Speech for Terrorists

    When I was a student in Toronto in the early 1970's, the Communist Parties were quite active. their platform was "Free speech - yes, but not for Fascists". If I asked them, they said - they got to decide who was a fascist. Sounds like a perfect system for either side of the spectrum.

    Seriously, as we see in current events, using force and public disruption to block a speaker you disagree with does nothing to advance your point of view. It only makes people more convinced the problem is with the protestors. The more violent the protests, the less credibility their point of view garners.

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 27 Jun 2017 @ 5:17am

      Re: No Free Speech for Terrorists

      ^This. A thousand times this.

      Protest by all means; that's counter-speech, but don't try to silence people you don't like lest they turn around and do the same to you.

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  • identicon
    JB, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:07am

    Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

    whether a geology professor would be allowed to tell a student who believed the Earth to be 6,000 years old that they are wrong, Kremer bristled. “The Earth is 6,000 years old. That’s a fact,” he said.

    <facepalm>

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    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:48am

      Re: Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

      Isn't it amazing how some people wish to forcibly impose their version of morality on other ostensibly moral people because their 'faith' is more believable (to them) than the other persons 'faith'?

      Science states facts, but is movable as new information becomes available. Faith doesn't seem to have the same kind of flexibility, and a much stronger proclivity to deny any possibility not explicitly explained by their 'faith'. Science is wrong because a faith was established before all this science stuff was learned.

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      • identicon
        Thad, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:18am

        Re: Re: Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

        Right. The argument was summed up in a nutshell in the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham; the moderator asked them what would persuade them to change their beliefs. Ham said, "Nothing." Nye said, "Evidence."

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        • icon
          Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 27 Jun 2017 @ 2:43am

          The bible doesn't even say the earth was created 6000 years ago…

          ‌…but it doesn't surprise me that some who didn't study it might assume it does. ‌ ‌ ;]

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      • icon
        OA (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:27pm

        Re: Re: Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

        Science states facts, but is movable as new information becomes available. Faith doesn't seem to have the same kind of flexibility, and a much stronger proclivity to deny any possibility not explicitly explained by their 'faith'. Science is wrong because a faith was established before all this science stuff was learned.

        I mean no offense or hostility towards this commenter, however this is at best careless wording. Careful and knowledgable analysis would compare science and RELIGION (not faith). Science and religion both have a significant human factor and thus inherit very similar attributes, even if you consider them opposites (by definition and concept, opposites have plenty in common).

        Both history and current events tells us that science does NOT always state facts because people don't always state facts. Religion has a somewhat narrower scope and purpose than science, but scientists seem to believe that science's scope is all encompassing which is incorrect and a little "faithy". The religious too often behave as if the purpose of religion is to confer authority and power to its adherents, a self-corrupting idea routinely contradicted by their own faith's true teachings.

        ...Anyway, that comment has multiple layers of wrong on it.

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        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 2:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

          Maybe I said it badly, but I think we agree more than you think. Scientists have faith in the facts known, until more facts come along to change their minds. Sometimes that takes a while, which points out the 'faithiness' of some scientists, as you suggest.

          I specifically did not mention religion, even though it is strong in the faith area. Some faith comes from belief in economic systems such as communism, or socialism, or the various flavors of capitalism. Some faith also comes from political affiliations such as Democrat, or Republican, or Tory, or Green, or Libertarian, or whatever party is named. There is more faith in the party than in viewing legitimate points made by an opponent with appropriate respect.

          I tend to be reticent in taking anything as absolute and forever. I believe in those things I believe in, until given sufficient reason not to. The open mind is a better way to be than to be mired in 'faith' alone. That position allows one to grow, maybe one way first and another way later, but growth none the less.

          There is a lot of evidence for the 3 billion year old planet, and that may be wrong (either older or younger, we will see as methodology is improved and more discovery takes place). The only evidence for the 6000 year old planet is a book that has many interpretations, and many translations, and is from an era where the recorders or scribes (those few who knew how to write) had a tendency to 'correct' the content they were 'copying'.

          An open mind will consider these points. A faithful one will follow their induced beliefs. I say induced because they were taught whatever dogma they promote. Those ideas weren't inherited via DNA.

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          • identicon
            Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:06pm

            Re: Scientists have faith in the facts known

            No they don’t. They test them. If you had “faith” in something, you wouldn’t bother testing it.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2017 @ 9:49am

              Re: Re: Scientists have faith in the facts known

              Scientists test gravity, I guess they don't have faith in it yet.

              You could view Religion as the why, and science as the how.

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          • icon
            Richard (profile), 27 Jun 2017 @ 3:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

            Scientists have faith in the facts known, until more facts come along to change their minds. Sometimes that takes a while, which points out the 'faithiness' of some scientists, as you suggest.

            "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

            Max Planck

            "Religion and natural science are fighting a joint battle in an incessant, never relaxing crusade against scepticism and against dogmatism, against disbelief and against superstition, and the rallying cry in this crusade has always been, and always will be: "On to God!""

            Also Max Planck

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        • identicon
          Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 28 Jun 2017 @ 1:57am

          Re: scientists seem to believe that science's scope is all encompassing which is incorrect and a little "faithy"

          Let’s put it this way: everybody (philosophers, religionists, what-have-you) who has tried to put limits on science by saying that there are some things you can never know for sure, has eventually turned out to be wrong.

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      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 27 Jun 2017 @ 5:19am

        Re: Re: Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

        That's not faith, that's suspension of disbelief. Faith implies belief in a truth and there is nothing true about the Young Earth trope; geology says otherwise.

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    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:55pm

      Re: Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

      There are cities in the Bible that were inhabited before God created Adam & Eve, assuming the world is only 6,000 years old. While it does answer where Adam's kids and grand-kids found wives, it does call into question where those wives' great-grandparents were living before the world was created.

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      • icon
        Richard (profile), 27 Jun 2017 @ 3:58am

        Re: Re: Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

        The first chapters of Genesis were not written with the purpose of explaining science - or even history. As you note they were obviously inconsistent from the start.

        Unfortunately more recent religious leaders have used them in a foolish attempt to enhance their own authority - and complained when this was undermined by obvious scientific fact. The earth cannot be 6000 years old* because we can all look at the Andromeda galaxy 2 Million light years away.

        *Unless of course it is actually the work of Slartibartfast.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:08am

    It will matter little what the actual wording is, people will be able to bully universities, and abuse the law to advance their own agendas. The only people who will benefit from this are the lawyers, who get rich win,lose or settle out of court.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:12am

    The problem is exacerbated by the many radical leftist professors, especially in fields such as social sciences and communications, who are themselves organizing protests and inciting violence.

    Professors at taxpayer-funded colleges and universities should be teaching students critical thinking skills, not indoctrinating them in radical, intolerant, and often violent neo-Marxist ideologies.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:33am

      Re:

      As opposed to all the right wing preachers who want creationism taught in schools, and arrange protests as well.

      People have differing appearances, and are entitles to invite other people to agree with and support them. They are not however entitled to shut down speech that they disagree with.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:45am

        Re: Re:

        How many right wing preachers incite riots and set school equipment on fire.

        This law (and it is wrong) is based on the riots that occurred when student invited speakers (Milo, Ann Coulter) were not allowed to speak at universities. Berkley administration told the police to not interfere with rioters.

        "Antifa" is exactly like the communists who wanted to ban fascists, with them deciding who was facists, racist, and the like.

        The far right will mostly debate the far left, the far left won't do that and would rather riot.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The far right will mostly debate the far left, the far left won't do that and would rather riot.

          If you believe and act on that, you are cutting off the debate.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 12:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          How many right wing preachers incited violence against blacks, gays, and anyone not generally not white and protestant enough. Answer plenty. Your shit stinks worse than those you are fighting against, so you might want to tone down the "we are the real victims here' shtick.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:23pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I don't think those "right wing preachers" are featured on You Tube or going on TV like the batshit crazy far left folks. I also don't see University administrators telling the police to not enforce the law when those people incite violence.

            I also seem to remember veterans taking out some of those crazy fucks from that Kansas Baptist Church.

            Face it, the far left is much more violent and intolerant in todays world than the far right is.

            Funny thing about campus protests, most of the protesters are earning useless degrees, you rarely see business or science students participate in them. They look on at the protests and laugh.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:39pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Funny thing about campus protests, most of the protesters are earning useless degrees, you rarely see business or science students participate in them."

              They're not exactly useless degrees, since all the George Soros funded nonprofits seem to seek them out. Being an activist organizer/professional protester is indeed a career path, and gives employment to the kind of people with purple hair, tattooed faces, and earlobes stretched to their shoulders, etc., that would be shut out of any 'regular' job in the business world.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 5:03pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You don't think think is right. Via Wikipedia. "According to the Government Accountability Office of the United States, 73% of violent extremist incidents that resulted in deaths since September 12, 2001 were caused by right wing extremists groups."

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:09pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Why do so many people cite Wikipedia as a source?

                Here's a better source, where those misquoted statistics probably originated from:

                www.gao.gov/assets/690/683984.pdf

                "from September 12, 2001 through December 31, 2016, attacks by domestic or “homegrown” violent extremists in the United States resulted in 225 fatalities, according to the ECDB. Of these, 106 were killed by far right violent extremists in 62 separate incidents, and 119 were victims of radical Islamist violent extremists in 23 separate incidents. .... According to the ECDB, activities of far left wing violent extremist groups did not result in any fatalities during this period."

                These stats would imply that lethal shooting sprees, committed by members and sympathizers (and Facebook/Twitter followers) of militant African American groups such as "Black Lives Matter", "The New Black Panther Party" or "Nation of Islam" do not count as "far left wing violent extremist groups" according to the Obama Administration.

                The perpetrators of July 2016's Baton Rouge police shooting and the Dallas Police shooting were both Black Nationalists involved in such groups. It's possible of course, that mass cop-killing was not even classified as a 'violent extremist' event, nor apparently were other incidents of racially-motivated black-on-white violence.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 7:21pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Richard (profile), 27 Jun 2017 @ 4:08am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  106 were killed by far right violent extremists in 62 separate incidents, and 119 were victims of radical Islamist violent extremists in 23 separate incidents.

                  Since (contrary to conventional left of centre thinking) Islamists are in fact part of the far right - in fact SO far right that even the traditional far right regards them as too far right it is pretty clear that the far right is in fact responsible for pretty much all of it.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'm looking at today, not ancient history, and I see that the preachers inciting violence in the US today are most commonly in BLACK churches.

            President Barack Obama's race-baiting pastor Jeremiah Wright is just one example of many.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Thad, 26 Jun 2017 @ 3:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "I'm looking at today, not ancient history [immediately cites Fox News talking point from 2008]"

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 4:57pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Oh no the kids streatched their earlobes! Fetch me my fainting couch! But do go on, I don't think you guys have quite hit your quota for stereotypes and racist garbage.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 27 Jun 2017 @ 12:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              " I see that the preachers inciting violence in the US today are most commonly in BLACK churches. "

              Is this where you provide your statistics?

              What's your opinion of Dylann Roof?

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    • identicon
      tin-foil-hat, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:46am

      (Leftist Marxist) Response to: Anonymous Coward Jun 26th, 2017 @ 10:12am

      There is definitely a strong Liberal leaning viewpoint in colleges but I don't think it rises to the level of Marxism. Even if that were the case anybody that can be so easily indoctrinated by the time they reach college age is pretty weak willed to begin with.

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      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:59am

        Re: (Leftist Marxist) Response to: Anonymous Coward Jun 26th, 2017 @ 10:12am

        Well, that depends on how "sheltered" their high school experience was. There's a marked difference between your average public high-school and a private/religious school.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:25am

        Re: (Leftist Marxist) Response to: Anonymous Coward Jun 26th, 2017 @ 10:12am

        It is not "classical" Marxism, which seeks to divide people into 'proletariat' and 'bourgeoisie' classifications (and which is hardly applicable to modern welfare-states) but still use many of the techniques devised by Marx, such as dividing the population into essentially two competing classes -- the privileged and the persecuted -- in order to create resentment and hostility, essential elements for bringing about radical rearrangement of the established social order. The current craze of "intersectionalism", seeks to combine several 'underprivileged minorities' under one movement, which is why feminists today refuse to criticise Islam, despite its practice being about as anti-femininst as imaginable, since those two groups have joined forces as allies, along with racial and sexual minorities.

        Students taking 'women's studies' or 'African American studies' courses, for instance, are likely to be told, repeatedly, how under-privileged and persecuted they really are (and if it never occurred to them before, it's because they just didn't see it). The end result is students emerging from these classes disgruntled and radicalized, in empathy with their professors.

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        • icon
          Richard (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 12:27pm

          Re: Re: (Leftist Marxist) Response to: Anonymous Coward Jun 26th, 2017 @ 10:12am

          The current craze of "intersectionalism", seeks to combine several 'underprivileged minorities' under one movement, which is why feminists today refuse to criticise Islam, despite its practice being about as anti-femininst as imaginable, since those two groups have joined forces as allies, along with racial and sexual minorities.

          I suggest you try asking the liberal/left parties who allied with Islamists in Iran to overthrow the Shah back in the 70's how it worked out for them.

          You could also try asking those who went out onto the streets to overthrow Mubarak in Egypt how it worked out for them - within 2 years they were back on the streets to get rid of the elected Morsi and install military ruler El-Sisi.

          Same thing in Libya and Syria - oppose Gaddafi and Assad ... get ISIS.

          The enemy of your enemy is not your friend - better the devil you know.

          All those feminists and minorities should beware of allying with Islam - it will end in tears. https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2017/06/221252/science-slavery-isis-enslavement-yezidi-women -islam/ http://www.businessinsider.com/istanbul-bans-gay-pride-march-for-second-year-in-a-row-citing -safety-concerns-2017-6?IR=T

          And btw guess who just banned teaching evolution in Schools - its our old friend (Gollum's brother) Erdogan. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/23/turkey-will-stop-teaching-evolution-schools-educ ation-ministry/

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: (Leftist Marxist) Response to: Anonymous Coward Jun 26th, 2017 @ 10:12am

            Very true, it seems the vast majority of revolutions have led to a more regressive government and less freedom than the government that was overthrown. Even in Ukraine, which staged a massive months-long protest in order to join the EU, was then refused membership in the EU, and ended up as a neo-fascist state where such anti-government protests are ruthlessly crushed in their infancy.

            Over and over, we've seen that the very people protesting most vociferously for free speech and civil rights, and exploiting those freedoms to bring about change, will then turn to suppress those same freedoms once their side is in power.

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            • icon
              JoeCool (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: (Leftist Marxist) Response to: Anonymous Coward Jun 26th, 2017 @ 10:12am

              Over and over, we've seen that the very people protesting most vociferously for free speech and civil rights, and exploiting those freedoms to bring about change, will then turn to suppress those same freedoms once their side is in power.

              Got that right. Yesteryear's hippies have turned out to be far worse than what they fought against. The generation of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll grew up to become the most prudish, judgemental, narrow-minded, money-grubbing a-holes ever.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:42pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: (Leftist Marxist) Response to: Anonymous Coward Jun 26th, 2017 @ 10:12am

                So we missed out on the free love (sex) drugs and rock and roll and are left with this?

                That pretty much sucks.

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                • icon
                  JoeCool (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 6:33pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: (Leftist Marxist) Response to: Anonymous Coward Jun 26th, 2017 @ 10:12am

                  Well, we still have all those, but the sex ain't free and is considerably more restricted, the drugs are by prescription only, but the rock-n-roll is still going strong! One out of three is better than zero out of three.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2017 @ 9:51am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: (Leftist Marxist) Response to: Anonymous Coward Jun 26th, 2017 @ 10:12am

                    Scientists test gravity, I guess they don't have faith in it yet.

                    You could view Religion as the why, and science as the how.

                    2 out of three would be better. In fact, two out of three ain't bad.

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            • icon
              Richard (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 2:11pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: (Leftist Marxist) Response to: Anonymous Coward Jun 26th, 2017 @ 10:12am

              we've seen that the very people protesting most vociferously for free speech and civil rights, and exploiting those freedoms to bring about change, will then turn to suppress those same freedoms once their side is in power.

              Actually my point was not that the idealists turn into totalitarians (although I admit that that also does happen) but rather that in the chaos that follows when protests are successful the strongest, best organised groups will seize power and often they turn out to be the worst groups. Many of the original idealists then find themselves marginalised or even persecuted. In countries with large muslim populations the winners tend to be islamist groups. Elsewhere, and in the past, there may be other equally unpleasant beneficiaries (eg the Bolsheviks and Fascists between the wars) or the situation in the Ukraine - where both sides seem to be largely captive of their worst elements.

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  • icon
    Avatar28 (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:23am

    Possibly I'm misreading (and I've little doubt that it will end up abused) but it doesn't seem to be as bad as most of the article makes it out to be.

    may not take action...in such a way as to REQUIRE students or faculty to publicly express a given view of social policy.

    Sounds like students or faculty are free to express whatever view they want, the university just can't tell someone "You can only publicly express this view or you will be in trouble."

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    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:52am

      Re:

      "Express a view" isn't just what's spoken out loud in class.

      Consider Liberty University, the mandatory campaign stop for Republicans. Which banned the College Democrats club because being a Democrat is incompatible with being a Christian. Which teaches biology subject to "compatibility with a young-earth creationist philosophy [is] required". What if a student insists on being scientifically accurate?

      Now consider the opposite situation: A young-earth creationist attending biology class in a real university insists on creationism. The sentence you highlighted states that you can't make them say otherwise.

      Fine;you allow their opinion in class. But what of exams and assignments? Do you "not take action" and not deduct marks despite their rejecting science in favor of mythology?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Snape (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:37am

    I think you misunderstand

    Meanwhile, the uninvited and their supporters are shouting about censorship in a way that suggests their views must be tolerated without reaction, which is a complete misunderstanding of how free speech works.

    If by "tolerated," you mean "given," I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the controversy here. After years of having the Democrats saying, "If you don't like what I have to say, don't listen," (or watch, particularly when it comes to the TV shows they've put out over the last few decades) now it's "If I don't like what you have to say I don't want to listen, and I don't want anyone else to, either."

    If someone is giving a speech at a college or university, and I, as a student, don't like what that particular speaker has to say, I stay away from the speech. I do not try to stop other people from going, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ShadowNinja (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:50am

      Re: I think you misunderstand

      > If someone is giving a speech at a college or university, and I, as a student, don't like what that particular speaker has to say, I stay away from the speech. I do not try to stop other people from going, though.

      The controversy isn't just disagreeing with someone. The controversy is even giving someone a platform to spout their views. The views targeted normally involve racism or discrimination in some way, where some would suffer simply from what they were born as if those views became reality.

      Such as for example opposing marriage equality and hate crime protections for LGBT people. Or, more radically, views closer to what the Nazi's had towards groups like the Jews.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Snape (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 2:34pm

        Re: Re: I think you misunderstand

        I've never read or heard anywhere anyone proposing we round up homosexuals and throw them into death camps. There might be a few fringe kooks who say that, but I find it hard to believe that Milo Yannapolis (sp?) would advocate for death camps he personally would be subject to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 27 Jun 2017 @ 5:29am

          Re: Re: Re: I think you misunderstand

          He did advocate for banning Muslim groups from university. I had a damn good laugh about it while trolling Adam Steinbaugh, who was complaining about Milo being no-platformed. The man who wanted people he doesn't like to be banned was complaining about being banned himself - the poster case for freedom of speech, right there!

          Be careful with the ban-hammer, is the takeaway, lest you find it used on yourself.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2017 @ 9:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I think you misunderstand

            The group he wanted banned was founded and funded by the Muslim Brotherhood, which has ties to ISIS.

            Would any university allow a group for the KKK on campus?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2017 @ 9:55am

          Re: Re: Re: I think you misunderstand

          You would find something like that in Muslim countries, homosexuality is illegal in quite a few countries. That is why he has a problem with some Muslim groups/countries/immigrants.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2017 @ 8:51am

        Re: Re: I think you misunderstand

        Hate crimes like this could be considered looking at a person and saying they are a boy because physically they are a boy, but that person "identifies" as a girl.

        That is a hate crime.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 29 Jun 2017 @ 4:31am

          Re: Re: Re: I think you misunderstand

          In order for something to be a hate crime, it first needs to be a crime.

          What part of what you described is a crime?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:44am

    Safe Spaces hypocrisy

    What I find most ironic and hypocritical about this, and how college students are derided as wanting 'safe spaces' is how the other side does the exact same thing elsewhere.

    Want to protest racism at a football game by not pledging allegiance to the flag? How dare you bring that issue into football and the flag! Football and the flag are sacred! Kick those players off the field for bringing their politics into the game and the flag!

    Or in other words, demanding 'safe spaces' at sports games.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 10:59am

      Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

      Point taken, but when I go to a football game, I expect to see football, not political statements, if I wanted that, I would go to a speech.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:19am

        Re: Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

        when I go to a football game, I expect to see football, not political statements

        Then do you leave when the National Anthem is played?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:34am

          Re: Re: Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

          That is when I buy beer.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

            Best response.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2017 @ 3:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

            Hmm, sounds to me you're doing the exact same thing the footballer does, not respecting the flag and the national anthem.

            Why do you bring your politics to the football field?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 28 Jun 2017 @ 4:22am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

              Aren't you bringing politics to the football field by demanding that everyone respect the flag and the anthem? What do those have to do with the activity of kicking a ball around?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:11am

      Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

      The initial idea of “safe spaces” in places such as colleges gave marginalized people a place to vent and be themselves without judgment. Some of the earliest such safe spaces were for queer people.

      But ever since the phrase became mainstream, society in general has twisted it to mean “a bubble free from ideas you do not like”. We mock people for wanting a “safe space” free from opposing ideologies and controversial ideas, no matter their own ideologies or ideas. That usage both degrades the original “safe space” idea. It also implies that marginalized people should defend their own existence by “respecting” and “debating” those who would prefer the non-existence of such people, rather than retreating to a “safe space” where such “criticism” does not exist.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:34am

        Re: Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

        Safe Space: the hypocrisy of demanding to participate in YOUR group while prohibiting everyone else from participating in THEIR group.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:49am

        Re: Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

        To take over a quad of a University, deem it a "safe space" and kick other students out doesn't really fit your description.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 12:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

          Which is my entire point: We have so degraded the original “safe space” idea that people in general think of situations like you describe as an idea they consider either heinous or logical, rather than as an ridiculously absurd idea regardless of whatever ideologies or ideas want that kind of “safety”.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:19am

      Re: Safe Spaces hypocrisy

      Kinda reminds me of "everyone"

      I find very few people "without" the exact cognitive dissonance that you just described.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Professor Ronny, 26 Jun 2017 @ 11:17am

    Keep in mind that the law says "remain neutral, as an institution." That says nothing about what a professor says in the classroom, who a professor invites to her/his classes, what students say, or who student organizations invites to speak.

    Georgia (where I live) passed an idiotic law to allow guns on campus and in classrooms. The public university I teach for is neutral as an institution and is making plans to comply with the law. Nevertheless, students and faculty are widely protesting the law.

    There is simply no conflict between a institution of higher learning being neutral and its members being active.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Another Georgia Professor, 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:17pm

      Re:

      Just for the record, not all of us professors in Georgia are cowering at the thought of law-abiding students being armed. I already know there are morons who can possess weapons in my classroom without my knowledge but I've never felt concerned about it because I try to treat my students with respect and well, I can't control everything anyway. At least now if one of the deranged ones goes off and is armed, maybe a sane person can come to my defense with is own sidearm.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    zboot (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:09pm

    Snowflakes?

    Can we diversify on the name calling du jour?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:11pm

    OK but

    “That each institution shall strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day, and may not take action, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students or faculty to publicly express a given view of social policy.”

    All of which is fine until the matter of public policy actually affects the university directly. (Eg funding, research related policies etc etc)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:46pm

    Thanks guys....

    Glad to see so many commenters turn out to validate the opening part of the second sentence of this post. Hyper-partisanship may well be the most annoying thing I've ever encountered....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 2:24pm

      Re: Thanks guys....

      It's one of those unhappy circumstances in which everyone on every side appears to be wrong.

      When you write that you are making commenting on the article into a bit of a minefield.....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 2:23pm

    Neutral Forums are not a problem

    >>And it's worth reminding everyone considering supporting this bill that its words can cut both ways. Just because today we're talking about a topic a person on one end of the political spectrum cares about doesn't mean the other end can't use this law to force their views on campus in the same way.

    Many people actually want it to cut both ways. Conservative ideas are currently being censored. But if the shoe ever goes on the other foot, then leftist speech ought not be censored or shut down by rioting either.

    By the way, this isn't forcing views on the campus, this bill prevents the University from forcing views upon the students. You have a very strange viewpoint that if a speaker is tolerated to speak, that you must therefore agree with the speaker.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 27 Jun 2017 @ 5:37am

      Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

      First of all we need to agree on what "conservative" means; these days it seems to mean this: http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm

      That said, even the most Nazi-saluting freak should be allowed to speak, it's just that we're not obliged to listen.

      To riot and attempt to stop others from hearing — and perhaps challenging unsavoury views is reprehensible, let's get that straight, but at no point should we take the Marxist line and divide the world into oppressors and oppressed; that's not the case. That certain members of the alt-right movement have been no-platformed is not in doubt (and I disagree with it, for the record) but they are able to speak freely elsewhere so no, "conservative" views are not being censored, those people are free to speak their minds elsewhere.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 27 Jun 2017 @ 7:46am

        Re: Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

        Firstly, if free speech means anything then expression of, or criticism of, ideas should never be prevented just because someone might be offended. There is no right not to be offended. Speech that contains direct calls for violence against any person or group is another matter, but I think it is best to draw the line rather tightly around it.

        That certain members of the alt-right movement have been no-platformed is not in doubt (and I disagree with it, for the record) but they are able to speak freely elsewhere so no, "conservative" views are not being censored, those people are free to speak their minds elsewhere.

        Actually there is a problem with this line - and it arises because you simply cannot lump together views on a whole load of topics and call it "left" or "right" anymore.

        If someone generally belongs to one camp - but has opinions on some issues that fit more naturally in the other - then there may be nowhere for them to speak. The world is much more complex now than it was 50 years ago and the simple left/right dichotomy doesn't work anymore. Hence alt-right is different from neocon, different from teaparty and different again from traditional establishment right. In fact it looks to me like alt-right consists largely of defectors from the left.

        In the UK for example UKIP drew some of its support from traditional Labour voters although its core was eurosceptic tory. Having said that, Nigel Farage's drus policy was somewhere in the far left space...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2017 @ 10:01am

          Re: Re: Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

          Richard, the problem is that they are all just labels. We now use labels to dismiss someone today. Trump was racist, oh, that went away. Trump hated Jews, that went around for about a week until people realized his daughter was a Jew. Milo is anti Muslim. Well, Muslim countries don't treat homo's all that well and the student group he wanted banned from colleges was formed and funded by the Muslim Brotherhood, which has ties to a terrorist organization (so he said.)

          The label is what is important, because then we can say "oh, they are one of them, nevermind what they say."

          When you label someone, you can forget they are a real, human being. Republican's have abortions, they can be gay, they can give money to help the poor. Dem's can be fiscally conservative, they can want a strong police force, they can want to get in wars.

          The labels make it easy to ignore someone, to categorize someone, the only problem is, people are people, varied, differing opinions, even from day to day. The label makes it consistent.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 28 Jun 2017 @ 2:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

            Agreed, AC, but labels also provide an identity — a rallying-point, if you will. When some self-righteous Prog takes me to task for not being right on I can tell them I'm conservative and entitled to my opinions whether they like them or not. When a member of the alt-right calls me a liberal socialist I can point out that their views are far to the right of traditional conservatism. My argument is that although you are right that labels can be used as an excuse to dismiss or ignore people they can also be useful.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2017 @ 10:09am

          Re: Re: Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

          When it began, quite a few people supported the tea party, its only goal was to get the country on track fiscally.

          The Dem's hated it and traditional Republicans hated it. The tea party was successful at first.

          Then the Republican's managed to start to take control of the tea party, throw in religion, make it more Republican, talked about abortion.

          In the beginning, it actually looked quite good and got a lot of support, and then the political parties ruined it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 28 Jun 2017 @ 4:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

            "When it began, quite a few people supported the tea party, its only goal was to get the country on track fiscally."

            That what they claimed, but before it was hijacked by the right-wing fringe, the main issue seemed to be taxes. But, at the time, taxes were historically quite low. I'll admit I did see much about them at the beginning before the anti-Obama crowd took it over (the first I heard about it was the hilarious faux pas over the name "teabaggers"), but I don't recall much actual complaints over and above the "taxed enough already" claim that seemed nonsense given the tax rates of the day.

            Now, I may have this wrong and there may have been more to it (please, cite the actual stances if you have them, I'd be happy to be educated with verifiable independent sources). But, if I'm right, then that's why the racist and loony fringe managed to hijack it so easily - while concern about the economy overall was valid, the actual argument presented was nonsense.

            "then the political parties ruined it"

            Interesting that you blame all parties, but even your narrative admits only one of them did.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2017 @ 7:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

              High taxes are not the issue, that is what most people get wrong about motivations. Government waste is the problem, the idea that if you give the government money, it will waste it. You can either stop the waste or give the government less money to waste.

              Department of Defense? Has not had a valid audit or how it spends money ever. It is audited every year, and every year in the audit report, the accounting firm pretty much states "yeah, don't rely on these numbers, because we know they don't touch reality."

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 28 Jun 2017 @ 7:51am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

                I notice that your answer doesn't give me details of what the tea party were saying at their inception, only some examples of your own opinion, interestingly.

                "You can either stop the waste or give the government less money to waste."

                You can, of course, do both. Or, even decrease waste while giving the government more. That's not the problem, the problem is how you define "waste". Some will claim the US defence needs even more money despite the astonishingly obvious waste that goes on, and that you need to remove things like food stamps which have a proven net profit on ROI. Others will of course claim the opposite, that you should help the poor while giving less money to killing people abroad. Getting the priorities correct is vital, and that's not going to happen if you just concentrate on the tax amount.

                There's a discussion going on right now in the UK regarding the Grenfell fire and how much of that was caused directly by austerity measures (i.e. reducing "waste") and what the long term costs are. It's quite possible that the cost of reducing this "waste" has had a higher cost, personally and financially, than leaving alone would have ever cost. This is part of the problem - one man's "waste" is another man's vital service, and you're not going to be able to agree on which is which while you have people moaning about high taxes after a bunch of tax cuts.

                Again, can you show me what the tea party's demands were before they started rambling on about tax cuts as their sole focus, and where this caused opposition from all major parties?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 28 Jun 2017 @ 2:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

          Agreed, for the most part, but everyone has somewhere to speak. Just as there's no right to not be offended, there's no right to be heard.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2017 @ 11:31am

        Re: Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

        Agreed Wendy, but this law is in response to happenings at US colleges and Universities. University of Missouri (where a communications professor tried to kick out and suggested violence upon a student reporter) and University of Cal Berkley where multiple student invited speakers were not allowed to speak. Where Antifa members rioted, all the while the University administration was telling the police not to engage the rioters.

        Teachers and professors and administrators should know better, should do better. My own son came home from his high school class and complained about a teacher who "taught" that all males are sexist, that all whites (whites were the only ones pointed out) are racist, and so on. He didn't like it but didn't respond because he felt that the teacher would give him a lower grade. This from a subject that has nothing to do at all with any of those topics.

        Typically, educational institutions are very liberal, lately they have made the move to left wing. Most conservatives don't fight it, because they are either in the sciences or in business, so they ignore it and do what they are at the school for, to learn.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 28 Jun 2017 @ 2:27am

          Re: Re: Re: Neutral Forums are not a problem

          Teachers and professors and administrators should know better, should do better. My own son came home from his high school class and complained about a teacher who "taught" that all males are sexist, that all whites (whites were the only ones pointed out) are racist, and so on. He didn't like it but didn't respond because he felt that the teacher would give him a lower grade. This from a subject that has nothing to do at all with any of those topics.

          Is there anything online to the effect that this is officially being taught? I've been reading up on the New Left and they do seem to be a pernicious bunch.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 28 Jun 2017 @ 2:04am

      Re: Conservative ideas are currently being censored.

      By whom? Look at the right-wing media in Britain trying to blame the Grenfell Tower blaze on the poor guy whose faulty fridge started the fire, trying to gloss over the fact that the whole place was a death-trap.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stosh, 27 Jun 2017 @ 11:43am

    "Student revolts and petitions to uninvite speakers are themselves a form of speech and worthy of protection,"

    So whomever can shout the loudest and burn the most buildings gets "Free Speech", not sure if that's what the writers of the Constitution had in mind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 28 Jun 2017 @ 2:29am

      Re:

      We need order so I don't agree with that but you must agree that in practice it's the noisiest and most aggressive people who seem to have the most freedom where speech is concerned. This is a problem, I agree.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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