On Friday I appeared on Houston Public Radio’s excellent program, “Houston Matters,” for a discussion on campus free speech. The program focused on a student at Blinn College in Texas who was told she could not hold up a sign that said “Support Gun Rights” without seeking permission in advance. Shockingly, a school administrator and three armed guards told her that she could not hold up her sign, and that she would probably not be able to obtain permission to do so. Even worse, she was told she needed permission to hand out a pamphlet about Miranda rights. FIRE filed a suit, challenging the constitutionality of this act.
I was joined on the radio with Will Creeley, who represents the student at FIRE.
You can listen to the audio here. One point, that I stress over, and over again:
For everyone in the reach of my voice, let me say this very clearly. Offensive speech is protected by the Constitution. The mere fact that speech makes you offended, or “unsafe” as the millenials say today, does not deprive it of First Amendment value. And if you are in a public university, and you want to post a symbol that offends people, you have the right to do that. And if the school takes action to censor it on the basis of the content, they are violating the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
I can’t repeat this message enough.