American Campuses: Not-So-Free Speech Zones
No, it isn't just outside of America where attempts to censor are rampant.
Ann Snyder blogs of some examples within the USA -- all of them fought by FIRE (great organization -- Foundation for Individual Rights in Education -- dedicated to defending free speech rights on college campuses):
Far from being bastions of free thought and critical inquiry, our universities, through speech codes, security fees, and other tactics, begin the "political correctness" indoctrination process early, teaching young Americans what they may and may not say (READ: think). Naturally, included in the realm of the verboten is expression deemed critical of Islam.
Student group slapped with "security fee" for Wilders event:
In October of 2009, the student organization, Temple University Purpose (TUP), sponsored an event with Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, who currently faces prosecution for "hate speech" in the Netherlands. Several weeks later, the group received charges for an additional "security fee" for the event. Charging extra security fees for a controversial event because of a potential hostile reaction from the audience has been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court because it financially burdens speech. Citing this precedent and through dogged persistence, the FIRE succeeded in having the fee withdrawn.
College Republicans investigated for fake flag "desecration" at anti-terrorism event:
In 2007, San Francisco State University's College Republicans were subjected to disciplinary action for stepping on mock Hezbollah and Hamas flags as part of an anti-terrorism event. With help from the FIRE, the witch-hunt was ended and students escaped punishment. Later, with the assistance of the FIRE's Speech Codes Litigation Project and the Alliance Defense Fund, the College Republicans delivered a little disciplinary action of their own, raising and winning a constitutional challenge to the university's speech code.
"Portraits of Terror" art exhibit censored:
In 2006, then Penn State student, Joshua Stulman's exhibit "Portraits of Terror" was pulled by the university just three days before its opening. According to FIRE President, Greg Lukianoff, the exhibit was censored "twice: first because administrators didn't like what it had to say, and later out of fear that violence would ensue if his artwork were shown on campus." The FIRE has helped raise awareness of the incident through writing and a short documentary. Is there anyone out there with the courage to show this exhibit?
Maintaining free speech on campuses is an important part of maintaining it in general. Free speech about Islam is particularly endangered. Legal Project's Adam Turner blogs:
•On Sunday, October 3, the Washington Post and other newspapers chose to rerun an old Non Sequitur cartoon by Wiley Miller rather than use Miller's submission for that day. The papers' objection - Miller's use of a "Where's Waldo?" gag that replaced Waldo with Muhammad, which was meant to satirize the media's hesitancy to offend radical Islam. The Post's Style Editor Ned Martel defended his decision, saying the cartoon "seemed a deliberate provocation without a clear message." However, as Reason magazine reasoned, cowardice seemed the more likely culprit.
•On Sept. 11, in East Lansing, Michigan, an unidentified man burned a Koran and scattered its ashes and torn pages outside of the Islamic Center. The response from the police - a full court press to track down this man, including a ridiculously excessive $10,000 reward for information relating to his capture. When the man voluntarily turned himself in, however, the Assistant City Attorney chose not to prosecute, not in the name of First Amendment freedoms but because there was no basis for trespass and "(f)rom a littering standpoint, my understanding is that no one would consider a desecrated version of the Quran as litter. That would be potentially insulting and provocative."
•In a follow up to the Koran burning case that started it all, Gainesville, Florida hit fringe pastor Terry Jones with an $180,000 fee for security costs. This in addition to his insurance being canceled and website being taken down. And Jones never even went through with the burning, ceding to the Administration's warnings that American troops would become targets in the Middle East. (I thought they already were?) If this fee is enforced, Jones will undoubtedly go bankrupt, and those contemplating a similar act will have been suitably 'warned' not to exercise their constitutional right to do so.
•Molly Norris, the Seattle cartoonist whose "crime" was merely sponsoring "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" has "gone ghost" -- changed her name and identity and abandoned her livelihood - at the insistence of the FBI after Islamists marked her for assassination. Have many members of our government or the Western press stood up to defend her speech from the radical Islamists? Nope. Will any but the most courageous cartoonists be willing to take on radical Islamists in the future? Nope.
In modern Western society, religious persons of almost every faith have had to accommodate themselves to offensive speech targeting their religion. Ask any Christian, Jew, Hindu, etc. But one religion alone - Islam - is protected from criticism these days. And everyone knows why Islam is so protected. If the adherents of Islam are offended, you see, the offenders of Islam will be targeted for death. Today, cowardice rules, and, as a result, Islam is untouchable by commentary or criticism.
Just like Sharia law demands.
This is the last day for FIRE's big fundraising push of the year. If you have even $5 or $10 to donate, you can do it here: https://myfire.thefire.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=202. In Milton Friedman's words:
Over the course of a long lifetime, I have witnessed a serious decline in tolerance and respect for freedom of speech in the academy. FIRE is currently the most effective force countering that trend. It deserves the support of every believer in a free society.