July 5, 2014 at 1:00 am


Other writers, on speech codes, the Hobby Lobby, and America

The end of college speech codes?

Robby Soave in Reason : The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education announced a major litigation effort this week against universities that maintain clearly illegal speech codes.

With help from the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, FIRE is suing several universities that manifestly and unconstitutionally deprive their students of First Amendment rights.

“Universities’ stubborn refusal to relinquish their speech codes must not be tolerated,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff during a press conference.

For now, suits have been filed against Ohio University, Iowa State University, Chicago State University, and Citrus College in California. These universities have all trampled students’ free speech rights, according to FIRE.

Lukianoff explained that FIRE would not hesitate to expand the suits until all universities abandon their speech codes, which were ruled unconstitutional decades ago but have endured at more than 50 percent of colleges, according to the foundation’s research.

An OU student provided an illustrative example at the press conference. His student rights organization, OU Students Defending Students, ran afoul of university administrators because he created T-shirts for the organization that featured a risque phrase (“We help get you off”).

“Unpopular speech at Ohio University is discouraged at every turn,” said the student. “[Administrators’] efforts to create a friendlier campus is undoubtedly doing the opposite.”

The war on women's intelligence

Emily Zanotti in The American Spectator : Absent from the discussion about this week’s Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling is the understanding that the ruling was relatively narrow. It applies provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (authored by Senator Chuck Schumer and signed in to law by Hillary Clinton’s husband) to companies that are directly owned and managed by people who have day to day connections to the business. The ruling applies only to the Health and Human Services contraception mandate, and the ruling itself offers a congressional remedy that would serve the government’s purpose of handing out free birth control whilst preserving those First Amendment rights that our country was founded on, thanks to that ragtag band of Plymouth Rock-bound puritanical nutcases.

Such nuanced, yet rather obvious conclusions had to be drawn from the opinion itself, but in order to draw them you also had to read it, something which these Spokeswomen for All Ladies seem shockingly unable to do. Is birth control now illegal? Will women be forced to bleed to death in the streets from endometriosis without the necessary treatment the pious class keeps just slightly out of reach? No.

What results from all of this is a War on Women’s Intelligence where lock-step, conformity-demanding legions with the intellectual curiosity of a lesser Kardashian spread a message to a waiting audience with little regard to its veracity, inciting panic with a campaign of misinformation. Almost without exception, everyone hawking the War on Women thinks women are dumb enough to believe them.

We need another Freedom Summer

Katrina Vanden Huevel in The Washington Post: Shortly after 11 p.m. on June 24, the media declared six-term Republican Senator Thad Cochran the winner of Mississippi’s hard-fought Republican runoff primary. The reason, the pundits quickly concluded, was an unprecedented surge in black Democrats — some 13,000 or more — crossing over to support Cochran over his virulently anti-government tea party opponent, Chris McDaniel. “It should send a message,” retired school principal Ned Tolliver said. “It shows that we have the power to elect who we want to elect when the time is right.”

Around the time the polls closed, a very different view of Mississippi was playing out on PBS, in the form of a documentary called “Freedom Summer.” Grippingly recounting the 1964 effort that brought more than 700 college students — primarily white northerners — to register black voters in Mississippi, the film is part of a flood of 50th anniversary commemorations, from conferences to children’s books.

But 50 years after Freedom Summer, the United States faces the greatest curbs on voting rights since Reconstruction, with the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act last year and 22 states passing new voting restrictions since 2010. Poll taxes and literacy tests have been replaced with laws that help keep approximately 3.7 million eligible black voters unregistered across the South. An estimated 2.6 million American felons — and nearly 8 percent of all black adults — are barred from voting, despite having served their sentences.