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June 22, 2017

Wisconsin Bill Would Expel or Suspend Students in the University of Wisconsin System Who Attempt to Shut Down Public Speakers

Nice.

Under a new bill approved Wednesday night by the Wisconsin State Assembly, such student protesters in the UW system could be suspended or even expelled if they repeatedly disrupt campus speakers they disagree with.

The Republican-backed legislation, called the Campus Free Speech Act, is part of a national effort by conservative groups to crack down on protests intended to silence controversial speakers on liberal college campuses. Similar measures have been enacted in Colorado and introduced in Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and California.


Demonstrations like the one that interrupted Shapiro’s speech last fall have become an increasingly common sight at universities around the country as debate has roiled over how to curb hate speech while protecting free expression and intellectual diversity. Some demonstrations have turned violent, like the recent protests and riots in Berkeley, Calif., that shut down a planned lecture by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Bizarrely, this law (should it become one) will probably be successfully challenged on free speech grounds, with plaintiffs arguing their shutting down of free speech is their own free speech. The fact that the state is an actor here will be held against the measure.

But it shouldn't -- the UW system is itself a state actor, and is therefore obligated to defend free speech rights itself. It isn't doing so -- and therefor the "state actor" is already acting against free speech. This is more correctly seen as a corrective to that illegality.

A better option is simply to defund any universities -- for, say, a year per offense -- that don't vigillantly protect speech rights.


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posted by Ace at 04:56 PM

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