Cordoning off free speech to restricted “zones” on college campuses has prompted a lawsuit against the nation’s largest community college system. Sadly, just such a legal fulcrum has become necessary to pry open the closed perspective of academia.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is representing Pierce College student Kevin Shaw, 27, in litigation after he was forbidden to hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution outside the campus’ “free speech zone.” At Pierce, that’s reportedly confined to a 616-square-foot area — or about three parking spaces.
Under a policy by the Los Angeles Community College District, a network of nine schools with about 150,000 students, the president of each college designates a free-speech zone on campus.
The L.A. community colleges are hardly alone. FIRE estimates that one in 10 American campuses has a restricted free-speech zone. “This fight is about a student’s right to engage in free thinking and debate while attending college in America,” Mr. Shaw says.
Is it any wonder that outside the “Get Smart”-esque campus-designed “Cone of Silence,” contrarian views increasingly prompt scorn and even violence — to the point where speaker invitations are rescinded out of fear of riots?
Ever so gradually America’s centers of higher education have become incubators of indoctrination, pushing free speech (and free thought) to the margins. It is high time for the duly concerned to push back — hard.
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