The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is simple. The government cannot ban free speech. It is not allowed. Period. So what does the Departments of Justice and Education want to do on college campuses? Ban speech. Implement speech codes. I refer to the letter sent to the University of Minnesota which would ban any speech that people might find offensive. As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education noted, the letter misquotes the Supreme Court decision in Davis v. Monroe Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 526 U.S. 629 (1999). Davis required that offensive speech be “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive.” Id. at 633. The government changed that language to “severe and pervasive”, completely omitting the objective standard.
This could have major chilling effects on speech at college campuses, where the free and unfettered exchange of ideas is the professed norm.
Are you offended by discussion of sex? Out go the Vagina Monologues, Human Sexuality classes, Biology classes, etc. Dating? Not allowed, since to ask someone for a date could be an “unwelcome” sexual advance.
“To preserve the freedom of the human mind then and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will, and speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement.” Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Green Mumford (1799).
- The DOJ and DOE have mandated that virtually every college and university in the U.S. establish unconstitutional speech codes. (philosophers-stone.co.uk)
- The Administration Says Universities Must Implement Broad Speech Codes (volokh.com)
- Tolerate “Any” Unwelcome Campus Sex Talk, Lose Federal Funds (cato.org)
- Obama Administration Officials Effectively Define Dating and One-Time Flirtation as “Sexual Harassment” (grumpyelder.com)