Liberals’ free speech double standard

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By John Barnhart

    Apparently some colleges and universities seem to think that students leave their First Amendment rights at the gate when they enroll.

    According to a report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, seven out of 10 American colleges and universities censor students’ speech. The report was cited in a story posted on WorldNetDaily earlier this month.

    Along with rules that govern the content of students’ e-mails and even dorm-room joking, some have taken steps to keep student groups from bringing controversial speakers on campus. They do this by charging the student groups security fees that are high enough to make them difficult for the students to pay. The story cites one example from the report as being typical.

    “In April 2009, the College Republicans at the University of Arizona sponsored a speech by conservative activist David Horowitz. Several days before the event, the university informed the group’s president that if the College Republicans did not request two university police officers for security at the event, the event would be cancelled. The College Republicans agreed to the demand and, after the event, were billed more than $300 in security costs for the officers. The university police explicitly acknowledged in an e-mail to the group that extra security – at the group’s expense – would be necessary for any future events that involved ‘someone who may be controversial.’”

    What’s worse is that these rules seem to be aimed at conservatives. They don’t seem to apply to leftists.

    Some months ago, a man named Ray Luc Levasseur was invited to speak at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Levasseur was the leader, and one of the founders, of the United Freedom Front, a left-wing terrorist organization. This organization carried out armed bank robberies to fund its agenda, bombed 20 buildings, shot two Massachusetts state troopers and killed a New Jersey state trooper in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

    He ended up being sentenced to 45 years in prison for the part he played as the organization’s leader, but was released on parole in 2004 after serving 18 years.

    Levasseur was not invited by a student group, he was invited by a faculty group. The group did this even though it upset people in Amherst and state lawmakers. The group stuck by its decision even though it provoked student protests. These university faculty members claimed they were doing this for the sake of academic freedom and free speech.

    A resolution by the Massachusetts State Senate, condemning this decision noted that “an individual’s right to freedom of speech does not extend to speech that incites violence or advocates for the overthrow by force of orderly government.”

    As it turned out, Levasseur did not speak after all. He lives in a federal halfway house in Maine and the United States Parole Commission denied him permission to travel out of the state. The event, however, went on with his wife, also a former member of the same left-wing terrorist organization, attending in his place.

    It’s disturbing that the American left has this clear double standard about free speech. It’s even more disturbing that this double standard is carried out in American universities, including publicly funded institutions. It’s most disturbing that, in some universities, students are under the influence of highly paid faculty members who think that what organizations like the United Freedom Front did constitutes free speech, as long as the organization has a leftist agenda.