In our book, Liberal Tyranny in Higher Education, my colleague, Archie Jones, and I deal with the dismantling of the First Amendment on college campuses. More particularly we describe how freedom of speech has become a one-way street controlled by liberals who do their best to suppress conservative and Christian opinions, thoughts, and ideas. Left-leaning professors and administrators are using so-called “free-speech” zones and “speech codes” as their preferred methods for suppressing free speech.
A free speech zone is a designated area in which students who wish to speak out on an issue are allowed to have their say. But there are some obvious problems with this concept. Here are just a couple of them. First, the entire college campus should be a free speech zone. When the liberal professors who came up with this concept were campus radicals in the 1960s they certainly did not allow themselves to be hemmed into free speech zones. In fact, they took over and occupied entire buildings. The concept of academic freedom that is the cornerstone of the academy was established to promote, encourage, and protect freedom of speech, not to suppress it.
A second problem with free speech zones is that many colleges require students who wish to make use of the designated areas to apply in advance and describe what they plan to say. I know what you are thinking. What about the Constitutional prohibition against prior restraint? Good question because if they do not like what the students plan to say, some colleges have begun to deny them access or, at the very least, limit their access. There are even cases in which the designated free speech zone was moved to an isolated location when conservative or Christians applied to use it.
Speech codes are just as bad or worse since they are used by colleges to limit what students are allowed to say as well as how they are allowed to say it. It is as if liberals think they have a constitutional right not to be offended and, of course, almost anything a conservative or Christian says will offend a liberal. Consider the speech code established at The State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo). On the surface the speech code appeared to do little more than encourage good manners, but the code is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The code makes any speech in residence halls that is not courteous, polite, or mannerly impermissible. Of course, it is the liberals who run the university who decide what is courteous, polite, and mannerly. Rest assured that a Christian student questioning the concept of coed dorms would not be considered acceptable no matter how courteous, polite, and mannerly the Christian student might be.
While universities may certainly establish codes of conduct to protect the ability of students to sleep and study in dormitories, restricting all speech in a dormitory to that which is considered by college administrators to be courteous, polite, and mannerly is just one more way of silencing the views of students who do not toe the line of leftwing orthodoxy. With such a speech code in place, any student who happens to voice disagreement with another student’s life style, behavior, personal choices, or opinions could be charged and disciplined.
Since conservative and Christian students who live in college dormitories are going to see plenty of behavior and hear plenty of opinions they disagree with, they are likely to be the most frequent targets of speech code violations. Of course, this was the purpose of the speech code in the first place. For example, officials at Shippensburg University used provisions in their institution’s speech code to strip a Christian student organization of its rights and privileges because it required members to honor a statement of faith and because it selected its leaders according to its interpretation of Biblical teaching.
Two students at Georgia Institute of Technology were subjected to religious discrimination for maintaining a Biblical view of homosexuality, a view that violated the university’s “Safe Space” training program. The “Safe Space” program ridiculed religions that do not embrace homosexuality except, of course, Islam. The only views on homosexuality allowed at Georgia Tech appear to be those of students who endorse and approve it. Apparently, homosexual students at Georgia Tech have rights but Christian students don’t.
These few examples are representative of what is taking place on college campuses nationwide. The radical left is persistent and increasingly aggressive in its attempts to silence Christian and conservative speech. Walter Williams summed up this situation in an article entitled, “Ideas on Liberty,” in which he wrote: “Western values are by no means secure. They are under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America. These people want to replace personal liberty with government control; they want to replace equality with entitlement; they want to halt progress in the name of protecting the environment. As such they pose a much greater threat to our way of life than any terrorist or rogue nation.”