Trump strikes back at liberal suppression of conservative speech on campus
Colleges and universities that limit freedom of speech are about to get clobbered big time. President Donald Trump came out swinging on Saturday against the higher-education establishment for violating our nation's most fundamental value: free expression, guaranteed in the Constitution First Amendment.There is about $38 billion in research grants at stake for the schools. The Trump approach would likely save money for the students and the universities bypassing costly litigation. Back in the 1960s, the liberals were all for free speech to push their agenda, but now that they dominate the universities they want to suppress the speech of conservative students while giving liberals a forum to push their propaganda in the classrooms.
"I am proud to announce that I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research funds," Trump told the right-leaning American Conservative Union at its influential annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
Then, Trump brought up onstage Hayden Williams, who got punched in the eye last month for expressing his political views while visiting the University of California, Berkeley. The president said, "If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they've got to allow people like Hayden ... to speak."
Educators lashed out immediately. "This is a solution in search of a problem," claimed Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education. He insisted that "free speech is a core value" at universities. Don't believe it.
About 90 percent of colleges and universities restrict speech, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Campuses do it by imposing speech codes, empowering bias squads to detect and punish offensive language, and allowing mobs to drive controversial speakers from campus. Some schools even marginalize unpopular groups by cordoning them off in tiny, remote "free speech zones." Academics forget that the entire United States of America is supposed to be a free speech zone.
Trump is threatening to make campus speech tyranny too costly for universities.
Meanwhile, free speech advocates are using the courts to battle campus oppression. Speech First nonprofit is suing the University of Texas for unleashing "bias response" squads to punish students for making so-called derogatory or offensive comments. The lawsuit alleges the bias squads are having a chilling effect on students' free speech rights.
Trump's Justice Department is weighing in on the side of campus freedom in several lawsuits, and so far it's winning. In December, the University of California, Berkeley settled, agreeing to provide protection for controversial speakers at major events. The University of Michigan, under litigation threat, agreed to halt its practice of censoring what students can post in their dorm rooms.