Home | About | Donate

The High Cost of Free Speech on College Campuses


The High Cost of Free Speech on College Campuses

Meredith Rutland Bauer

Public universities carry a heavy burden in upholding free speech in this charged political environment.

Protesters shout at each other during a free speech rally with right wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos at U.C. Berkeley on September 24, 2017 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of protesters came out to support and demonstrate against Milo Yiannopoulos as he held a free speech rally at U.C. Berkeley.


Meanwhile, while a university invites this repugnant individual under the First Amendment “free speech” protections (such a thing being the equivalent of applying the Endangered Species Act protections to Yersinia pestis - the deadly plague bacteria), other universities continue to harass and even ban students from using their first amendment rights on campus to defend the rights of Palestinians by promoting BDS of Israel.


Then there’s this…

“If we are reluctant to allow the audience to shut down the Civil Rights demonstrators, we find ourselves equally reluctant to allow an audience to shut down the white supremacists,” Schauer said.

Yes, because, after all, there are two sides to every argument! And we really need to be open minded about this!!!

The civil rights demonstrators present only one point of view.

But hey, there is also the increasingly respectable point of view nowadays - from even some respected “scholars” (Murray, Lynn) - that The Niggers and other darker races are of inferior intelligence (proven with IQ tests!) and therefore must be, let’s say, “removed” before they pollute the white race any further with their inferior genes - leading to our ruin!!!

See? That is what being “open minded” and respecting “free speech” looks like!

[note to any clueless out there: the above comment is called “sarcasm”.]


The First Amendment is so inconvenient… let’s just get rid of it.


I hope that your snarkish remark was not in response to my comment. Absolutism and fundamentalisms of all kinds are never a good thing.


Absent incitement to riot, free speech is an absolute right.


Thank you for writing this well-researched article! I may use it in higher education courses that I teach to provide students insight into the legal history and complexities of free speech law and court precedents on college campuses.


I repeat, absolutism is never a good thing. And a person who is a member of a long dominant ancestry with a long history of past brutality effectively telling a whole people of a certain ancestry that they are inferior and need to be forcibly expelled from their homes or exterminated, sure sounds like an incitement to me!


The best thing to do with the crazy people who want to speak is to let them, shun them and move on. Having a hissy fit when Ann Coulter speaks just makes her money. Violence is what she wants. The economic justice we all need and want Trumps the need to put the voices of hate and fascism down. Plus the intolerance of nuts spreads and eventually Bill Maher and other imperfect people are kept away. Dumb.



If you leave the idiots alone, they don’t get the drama they want. 6 or 7 people actually go to their speech and it never even makes the evening news. Shutting them down gives them the platform.


What has not been said here is that the corporate media loves to provide maximum coverage to the most extreme groups and magnify their message. It’s not that they agree with the message, but that the attention can drive up ratings and increase conflict and division, which can lead to incidents that will drive up ratings even more. I do not believe that in a country of 300 million plus that the number of white supremacists, who constitute a very small percentage of that population, warrants that much attention. Once in a while a white supremacist may go on a shooting spree, but in a country this size there are a great many people who go on shooting sprees for a great many reasons. It needs to be kept in context.

Furthermore, the danger of restricting free speech, when it is going to be increasingly necessary in the coming years, far outweighs the danger of the white supremacists. We will need speakers proposing radical solutions to the economic crises ahead of us, partly from the repercussions of the Wall Street bailout (including gigantic deficits) which will continue, partly from the almost inevitable event of the dollar losing its place as the world’s reserve currency, and partly from the repercussions of robots and Artificial Intelligence taking most of our jobs in the coming decades. Restrict a few racists now, and the Right will use that in the future to prohibit those from speaking who are proposing the necessary radical solutions.