An "anti-bullying" bill introduced in Congress last week gravely threatens free speech on America's college campuses. Despite the bill's admirable intention of preventing future tragedies, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has determined that the bill is at odds with the Supreme Court's carefully crafted definition of harassment and would require colleges to violate the First Amendment.
"Tyler Clementi was subjected to an unconscionable violation of privacy, but that conduct was already criminal and prohibited by every college in America," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. "For decades, colleges have used vague, broad harassment codes to silence even the most innocuous speech on campus. The proposed law requires universities to police even more student speech under a hopelessly vague standard that will be a disaster for open debate and discourse on campus. And all this in response to student behavior that was already illegal"...
"What happened to Tyler Clementi was already illegal. This bill cannot prevent future students from breaking the law, but it surely will provide students and administrators with new tools to punish views or expression they simply dislike. FIRE's experience demonstrates that when speech is not unambiguously protected, censorship and punishment of unpopular views follows," Lukianoff said.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act
From FIRE, about whom I haven't written in awhile: