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Monday, May 29, 2017

WISCONSIN'S "CAMPUS FREE SPEECH ACT"

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- Get ready for another showdown.

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Since childhood, many of us have been taught the concept of freedom of expression as contained in the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Congress may not be able to make such law, but the Left is using political correctness as leverage to prohibit the expression of anything other than Progressive dogma. Chastising and berating conservative speakers on college campuses has become commonplace. There is also a tendency for liberal professors to preach their ideology from the classroom podium, regardless of the subject they are charged to teach.

Historically, universities have been neutral grounds to discuss just about any subject, but not so recently where conservative speakers are often shouted down and threatened by liberal agitators. Such censorship was simply unimaginable not long ago. A lot of this is based on the liberal inclination of the universities themselves which are overwhelmingly run by Democrats. A recent study published in the "Econ Journal Watch" (Sep 2016) reported on the number of Democrats and Republicans of faculties of the top 40-rated universities in the country. According to the study, Democrats enjoy a 11.5:1 ratio (115%) over Republicans. The study also revealed that 66 of 170 departments surveyed had no Republican faculty members whatsoever (39%). Consequently, the inclination of liberal doctrine on campus isn't much of a surprise.

In response to the hostilities of the Left, Wisconsin Republicans have introduced the "Campus Free Speech Act" which is aimed at imposing disciplinary penalties on those thwarting free speech on campus, primarily shout-downs. It also requires that entering Freshmen are made aware of their free speech rights and the sanctions for violating them. One area it overlooks unfortunately, is professors editorializing in the classroom. Under the Wisconsin plan, professors and students can carry on a political dialog during class time, even if it wasn't included in the course syllabus.

Opponents to the legislation claim any speech deemed offensive or hateful should be barred. This, of course, requires an interpretation of what is offensive or hateful.

In making his argument for the bill, Representative Jesse Kremer, one of the authors, quoted a 1949 Supreme Court decision regarding free speech:

"The function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger."

This is precisely how the concept of free speech was taught to me, even in grade school. However, this is not how the radical Left wants it, particularly in Wisconsin, a state well known for union and agitator organizers who tried unsuccessfully to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker. Instead, they want to suppress any talk not in line with their agenda.

Knowing of our first amendment right, it is difficult to believe such legislation is needed in this day and age, but because the radical left is bent on opposing any viewpoint other than their own, it was inevitable.

Keep your eye on Wisconsin. Look for the Left to bitterly fight passage of this bill. However, if it successfully passes, look for the same bill to appear on the docket in many more states. If it passes, the Left will likely test it in the courts, claiming it somehow violates the 1st Amendment. They would much rather use political correctness to shape public opinion than to be restrained by some regulation.

Also published in The Huffington Post.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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