Two weeks ago, my Young Americans for Liberty chapter at the University of Texas at San Antonio hosted a Free Speech Wall on campus. You can read a full description of the Free Speech Wall Week event. The chapter decided we would end the semester on an issue that would be a popular hit with the student body. Renowned for bureaucracy and red tape, we knew the university would be a tough hurdle to overcome. Many organizations complain that the school’s lengthy and arduous application process inhibits student organizations from hosting events. However, our chapter decided the free speech wall would be worth the fight.
Students observing and writing comments on the wall
Jason Hensley, our YAL chapter president, said: “We need a wall for the students to voice their opinion, and I’m tired of students having to cut through massive amounts of red tape just to do things like this.” Jason recounted a quote from Adam Kissel of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE): “If college kids are not offended on a daily basis walking through campus, something is wrong.” Jason goes on to say: “College should be the hub for intriguing ideas, offensive or not, and we definitely have a lack of controversy here. We’ll cut through the massive bureaucracy and build a wall where students can come express themselves.”
Jason’s rousing speech empowered the rest of the chapter to quickly put together a plan, and they were all hands on deck.
Our chapter discussed numerous ideas on how to host the free speech wall. One idea was to post up construction paper over one of the campus building walls like the Free Speech Wall done by College Libertarians at Pepperdine University, but we knew from experience that the school wouldn’t allow this for fear of damaging buildings.
Young Americans for Liberty-UTSA is hosting a Free Speech Wall on the campus the week of March 27 - April 2. The wall was assembled for the first time today and looks amazing! Each day of the event we will post pictures to ourFacebook (so stop by here if you would like to see the wall posts as they happen) and by the end of the event will share with everyone the highlights.
For all of those out-of-staters, no fear -- y'all can participate too! Our Facebook event page, like allFacebook pages has a 'wall.' So attend the event on Facebook and write your message on this digital version of our free speech wall and we will get it up on the big wall as well!
The Supreme Court Of The United States ought to be commended for its recent decision in Snyder v. Phelps, more commonly known as the “God Hates Fags” case. The Court affirmed the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that, though distasteful, the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) has the right to protest the funeral of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder. Snyder died for his country in Iraq on March 3, 2006.
Snyder’s father, Albert Snyder, sued the WBC and its pastor, Fred Phelps, on multiple torts and won the case on the Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress tort, he was awarded $10.9 million by a jury. The Fourth Circuit overturned this decision on First Amendment grounds. Regardless of one’s emotional feelings, the Fourth Circuit got this case right.
The Westboro Baptist Church is a group of evil individuals devoted to a message of hatred and bigotry (though they will deny this fact, saying that they are simply spreading “God’s message”), but their speech is still protected by the Constitution.
Firing off a few four-letter words can't be charged as a crime anymore in Pennsylvania — at least when state police are involved.
State police have agreed to stop citing the public for cursing as part of a settlement Tuesday of a federal free-speech lawsuit.
The American Civil Liberties Union represents Pennsylvanians who have been ticketed for cursing at an overflowing toilet, a swerving motorcyclist and a parking ticket issuer. The citations can lead to hundreds of dollars in fines and legal costs, not to mention the occasional jail stint.
"Using profanity toward someone, whether an officer or not, is just not one of those things that you can put someone in jail for," ACLU lawyer Mary Catherine Roper said Tuesday. "It may not be very smart, but you have a constitutional right to do that."
"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out... without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable." -H.L. Mencken
It is often the case that laws have the exact opposite effect of their intended and stated purpose. The Disclose Act has the stated goal of strengthening democracy. One way intends to do this is to ban foreign nationals from contributing to American electoral politics. However, is democracy strengthened by denying foreign nationals not only a vote but also a voice in affairs that have a major impact on their lives and well being?
USA Today, on both sides of its editorial page debate, addresses the unequal treatment of interest groups, which is admittedly grotesque, but fails to mention the injustice of this law to the 1st Amendment rights of foreigners on our soil. Or do foreigners have no rights on our soil?
F.A. Hayek and John Kenneth Galbraith had it out about the merits of advertisements in N. Gregory Mankiw's introductory economics textbook (though maybe not in real life) that Dr. Mankiw reproduces in his blog. Indeed, I highly recommend reading this particular blog to any reader of Ludwig von Mises.
Over at my personal blog, I've posted more on California's approach to balancing free-speech and property rights. That topic stems from the comments thread from a post I made on the YAL blog last week concering a suit against a California mall for restricting speech.
In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could extend rights beyond that of the U.S. Constitution so long as doing so does not violate rights protected by the Constitution. The case dealt with the California Supreme Court ruling that their constitution’s protection of free speech allowed for individuals to exercise their free-speech rights in a private shopping mall, despite the wishes of the mall owners. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the California Supreme Court that this did not violate the mall owner’s property rights under the fifth and fourteenth amendments.
Glenn Greenwald reports that Ann Coulter was threatened to be prosecuted by the Canadian for "hate speech" prior to her cancelling a lecture at the University of Ottawa. As disgusting as this is, even more disconcerting is the fact that -- if Greenwald's comments section and my personal experience are any indication -- some liberals are applauding this. Just as they're not really oppose war, but Republican wars, these lefties appear to not really oppose censorship, but only Republican censorship.
Greenwald, of course, is no partisan hack but a man of principle and courage. Here is an excerpt from his great article on the matter, in which he defends Coulter's rights to say things he despises:
Personally, I think threatening someone with criminal prosecution for the political views they might express is quite "hateful." So, too, is anointing oneself the arbiter of what is and is not sufficiently "civilized discussion" to the point of using the force of criminal law to enforce it. If I were administering Canada's intrinsically subjective "hate speech" laws (and I never would), I'd consider prosecuting Provost Houle for this letter. The hubris required to believe that you can declare certain views so objectively hateful that they should be criminalized is astronomical; in so many eras, views that were most scorned by majorities ended up emerging as truth.
Before I go off spouting my opinion, I'd better tell you the facts. The controversial Westboro Church lead by Fred Phelps has found a new way to make the paper. For those of you unfamiliar with this church, these are the confrontational people who protest against gay rights at almost every junction possible. They made national headlines protesting outside of the Matthew Shepard murder trial with signs of their catch phrase, "God Hates Fags."
Now that I've gotten through that let me get to the meat of the argument. The Supreme Court has, as it usually does with the Constitution, added many dimensions to the first amendment which originally were never intended.