Video: Student stopped from distributing Constitutions on Constitution Day

posted at 12:41 pm on September 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

When I first heard about this video, I thought perhaps this took place at a high school, where free-speech restrictions sometimes can apply.  Not so, though, and FIRE’s involvement makes that clear anyway.  A student at Modesto Junior College in California decided to celebrate Constitution Day by handing out copies of a dangerously radical document, which was, er … the Constitution of the United States of America.  You know, the one that includes the pesky prohibition against infringing on free speech.

Readers can guess where this goes from there:

This gets even more Orwellian than one might assume.  After telling the student to stop handing out the pamphlets, the security guard then tells him the fact that he’s upset over being told to stop means he shouldn’t argue about it. Then, when he gets into the office, the administrator tells him that he can only indulge in free speech in the “free speech area” — and then only with permission, and during only a few hours of the day.  It’s only free, she tells him, in the “proper time, place, and manner.”

Happy Constitution Day! I’m pretty sure this is exactly what James Madison had in mind. Then again, I went to a California public university (Cal State Fullerton), so what the hell do I know?

More from FIRE:

“The video of Modesto Junior College police and administrators stubbornly denying a public college student’s right to freely pass out pamphlets to fellow students—copies of the Constitution, no less!—should send a chill down the spine of every American,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley. “Worse, FIRE’s research shows that Modesto Junior College is hardly alone in its fear of free speech. In fact, one in six of America’s 400 largest and most prestigious colleges have ‘free speech zones’ limiting where speech can take place. This video brings to life the deeply depressing reality of the climate for free speech on campus.”

“Your right to engage in free speech in this country is not contingent on the contents of some bureaucrat’s binder, and the fact that two people on campus are currently speaking their minds doesn’t mean you can’t,” said FIRE’s Shibley. “Virtually everything that Modesto Junior College could do wrong, it did do wrong. It sent police to enforce an unconstitutional rule, said that students could not freely distribute literature, placed a waiting period on free speech, produced an artificial scarcity of room for free speech with a tiny ‘free speech area,’ and limited the number of speakers on campus to two at a time. This was outrageous from start to finish. Every single person at Modesto responsible for enforcing this policy should have known better.”

Maybe they attended California public colleges, too.

To finish off this post properly, Allahpundit reminds me of this MRCTV quiz on the Constitution.  I’d guess that Modesto Junior College administrators would have a great deal of difficulty getting one of these right.  There does, however, appear to be an emerging consensus to add a constitutional amendment banning twerking.  How do we light that candle?

And happy Tae Kwan Do Day, too … or something.


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What is with all this permission crap?

Othniel on September 20, 2013 at 12:44 PM

The American Constitution is in the way of Statism.

It can be, it must be and it will be cast aside, in order for America to reach Utopia.

Tyranny is here – and it will get much, much worse.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 20, 2013 at 12:46 PM

SOP in the People’s Republic of Mexifornia – actively working to make Orwell’s 1984 statist fascism reality.

Now, passing out Mao’s Little Red Book, is perfectly acceptable….

Athos on September 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM

…And the sound of jackboots march ever closer.

squint on September 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM

But I’ll bet this college had no problem with students
handing out Korans during Ramadan…

ToddPA on September 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Handing out the Koran probably would have been okay though.

bsinc1962 on September 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM

SOP in the People’s Republic of Mexifornia – actively working to make Orwell’s 1984 statist fascism reality.

Now, passing out Mao’s Little Red Book, is perfectly acceptable….

Athos on September 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Athos, I like your quote, and agree with it, but, there is no need for them to pass out Mao’s Little Red Book, when it’s already the mainstay on college campuses – either directly or by inference.

I’m in complete agreement with your sentiment, though.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 20, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Anyone who would stop someone from handing out copies of the Constitution needs to read one.

Chris of Rights on September 20, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Two more generations ought to just about do it.

rogerb on September 20, 2013 at 12:52 PM

“You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!”

Mark1971 on September 20, 2013 at 12:53 PM

…And the sound of jackboots march ever closer.

squint on September 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes …

OhEssYouCowboys on September 20, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Do as you’re told. You can complain later. Maybe.

GarandFan on September 20, 2013 at 12:53 PM

This is a public college… Right? Then, following modern socialist rules, that means its an extension of a government body and THAT means the board of directors and their Gestapo police have no jurisdiction.

Occupy Modesto!

Skywise on September 20, 2013 at 12:54 PM

From the article

Ultimately, Serrano, after a phone call to an unnamed person in which she says that Van Tuinen “just wants to question the authority of why can’t he hand out constitutional-type of papers,”

The college was concerned because a students is questioning authority. You know, there was a time on our universities when that was a required course. But you can only question conservative authority I guess.

kenro85 on September 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM

When first confronted, he should have asked the cop to read the First Amendment, and then ask the cop, “This is a government school, right?”

Once the cop agreed, the student should have said, “Well, there you go. Please move on unless you want to pay for my education. Because if you stop me you will be sued and I will win, and you will spend your pension will pay for my education. Good bye.”

Than stopped talking to the man and continued to pass out the Constitution.

No Truce With Kings on September 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM

The irony escapes the leftists.

Schadenfreude on September 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Than stopped talking to the man and continued to pass out the Constitution.

No Truce With Kings on September 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Some things are worth being arrested for.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 20, 2013 at 12:57 PM

But I’ll bet this college had no problem with students
handing out Korans during Ramadan…

ToddPA on September 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Handing out the Koran probably would have been okay though.

bsinc1962 on September 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Great minds…….

Bitter Clinger on September 20, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Liberals will strip you of all your natural rights.

But they will grant you via the government the “right” to free stuff and to kill your offspring should you find them inconvenient.

gwelf on September 20, 2013 at 1:01 PM

He’d have been given a bullhorn had he been passing out flyers for ACORN and Planned Parenthood.

JetBoy on September 20, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Whenever I read headlines like this one, I know that the location is in a blue state. It never fails. Most Californians don’t believe in the Constitution so I’m not surprised that they would ban it. If the kid had been passing out Korans, he’d be a hero of the lefties there.

cajunpatriot on September 20, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Don’t ever forget, that during and in the aftermath of Katrina, the State confiscated the weapons of law abiding citizens – necessitating … NECESSITATING! … the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006.

Tyranny is waiting, in America.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 20, 2013 at 1:03 PM

What’s with this notion of ‘free speech zones’? The entire United States is a free speech zone last I heard.

Liam on September 20, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Leftists never change their stripes. This is the new segregation, but instead of race based it’s speech and thought based.

NotCoach on September 20, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Oh, I get it. The instructors can say what ever they want in a classroom. But, let out the truth and one is chastized.

Sabercat2 on September 20, 2013 at 1:08 PM

What’s with this notion of ‘free speech zones’? The entire United States is a free speech zone last I heard.

Liam on September 20, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Not quite. We have to remember that the Constitution applies to the state, not private citizens. This is wrong because a public university is doing this stupidity.

NotCoach on September 20, 2013 at 1:10 PM

What I’m curious about, is did the cop see him doing it and then approach him, or did someone alert the cop to him doing it? Not that it makes much difference, he had a right to pass out the Constitution anyway, freely, anywhere. I just wonder if an offended little pipsqueak liberal squealer “ratted” him out.

It also bugs me that the lady in the office gets all hot under the collar about the fact that the copies of the Constitution came from the Heritage Foundation. Looks like she’s already familiar with Heritage, has her own leftist ideas about them, and would have hung him from the highest yardarm if he’d had any association with them. She probably would have burned the Constitutions on the spot if she’d had a match.

I’m glad FIRE’s involved, but the point is, they shouldn’t have to be. It’s nuts to think that free speech is only allowed on a little space of campus only at certain times of the day and after having made an appointment ahead of time–with approval from the right sources, too, I’m sure. As Schadenfreude pointed out, the irony escapes the leftists.

theotherone on September 20, 2013 at 1:10 PM

From the article

Ultimately, Serrano, after a phone call to an unnamed person in which she says that Van Tuinen “just wants to question the authority of why can’t he hand out constitutional-type of papers,”

The college was concerned because a students is questioning authority. You know, there was a time on our universities when that was a required course. But you can only question conservative authority I guess.

kenro85 on September 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Absolutely disgusting. They really are a bunch of tiny tyrants, aren’t they?

NotCoach on September 20, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Next time come in with a flood of students.

Love to see how worked up that cop gets when someone tramples on his rights, and trust me, it will happen.

questionmark on September 20, 2013 at 1:15 PM

This is one of the Libs’ standard tactics – low intensity obstruction. They don’t come right out and say you don’t have a right to free speech (that they disagree with), but instead they “modestly” offer impossible-to-understand “reasonable restrictions,” bombard you with mind-numbing paperwork, delay, and give you the run-around until they can convince you that you have been soundly disqualified for reasons you can’t understand, or they hope you give up. It’s the same thing they do with the Second Amendment. Their goal is to force you to take them to court over it, counting on their belief that you won’t have the resources. True sleazebags.

WhatSlushfund on September 20, 2013 at 1:18 PM

The college was concerned because a students is questioning authority.

Didn’t a Senator Hillary Clinton shrilly shout that dissent was patriotic?

I guess what was left out was that it’s only patriotic when directed towards conservative ideals – and never towards the progressive jacobins.

At least the ‘Committee for Public Safety’ didn’t schedule the student a visit with Madame Guillotine like the first jacobins did.

Athos on September 20, 2013 at 1:22 PM

I don’t have an issue with free speech zones, because they are necessary in some instances.

Like my town. We are a small town, but we have a big event every summer put on by the LDS church, with tens of thousands of visitors. That brings in professional protestors who do their best to disrupt the event and ruin it for everyone. So finally our small town had to pass some free speech zone laws just to keep the protestors from invading and shouting out the event. They still get to protest, and the free speech zone is right next to the grounds where the festival is so they still get out their message, but it allows people to actually have a chance to enjoy what they came sometimes from overseas to see.

I think its a better solution than arresting them for disturbing the peace.

Vanceone on September 20, 2013 at 1:23 PM

That said, there’s a huge difference between waving protest signs, shouting, etc and handing out a copy of the Constitution. This school should be ashamed of themselves. Of course, as liberals, they don’t care about individual freedoms that don’t express immorality.

Vanceone on September 20, 2013 at 1:24 PM

When I was a wee lad I had to strain to suppress the urge to slap anyone who gave the old ‘There’s a time and a place….’ speech. That urge has never really left me, which makes terms like ‘free speech area’ set my teeth on edge.

jangle12 on September 20, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Keep in mind a couple of things:
First, reasonable restrictions are not seen as unconstitutional. You can’t stand in the middle of the street and shout at the cars as they pass you. You can’t go into someone’s place of business and disrupt it. Etc.

Second, even a government-run facility (like a college or an airport) can place restrictions on time and place – within reason. Especially as pertains to “soliciting”, which is the word they used to use about shoving pamphlets at people. That rule is why you don’t have to be harrassed by the Krishna anymore in airports.

Having said that, I tend to find this offensive because the same folks probably wouldn’t hammer anyone passing out flyers to attend the putting-a-helmet-on-a-banana-demonstration over on the student commons at 3pm.

GWB on September 20, 2013 at 1:31 PM

They should have stapled a condom to it and called it a birth control rally.

BobMbx on September 20, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Bureaucratic Leftist Idiots – pardon the redundancies.

EA_MAN on September 20, 2013 at 1:39 PM

When I was a wee lad I had to strain to suppress the urge to slap anyone who gave the old ‘There’s a time and a place….’ speech. That urge has never really left me, which makes terms like ‘free speech area’ set my teeth on edge.

jangle12 on September 20, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Very nicely said. I was in undergraduate school from ’76 to ’80 – the very idea of a “free speech zone” was anathema to the college experience.

It just shows how far America has fallen – that this type of bullshit is now the norm.

I’m sickened.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 20, 2013 at 1:42 PM

So Doctor Kim will explain to you why the First Amendment doesn’t apply in California. Boy, I want to hear that explanation.

Fred 2 on September 20, 2013 at 1:44 PM

GWB on September 20, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Can you think of any public place where pedestrians are generally allowed that pamphleteering is not allowed? Airports are not public throughways, but people may solicit others outside an airport entrance, which would be considered a public throughway.

NotCoach on September 20, 2013 at 1:46 PM

But you can only question conservative authority I guess.

kenro85 on September 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM

No guessing about it. But conservatives applied their authority for their own selfish and wrong reasons. Liberals apply their authority to take good care of us with our best interests at heart. They are more than happy to allow us all the freedom they want us to have and reading the Constitution might just confuse people.

hawkeye54 on September 20, 2013 at 1:48 PM

This school should be ashamed of themselves. Of course, as liberals, they don’t care about individual freedoms that don’t express immorality.

And since they are liberals they have no morals and can’t be shamed.

hawkeye54 on September 20, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Video: Student stopped from distributing Constitutions on Constitution Day

Why would this surprise anyone? Universities are left-wing areas run by the most insane left-wingers around. No one with a brain ever mistook a university for a free speech zone of any sort. They have almost invariably been reserved spaces for anti-American speech.

This situation still doesn’t even come close to Hah-vahd Lawn School kicking the military recruiters off while arguing that they are entitled to federal money. And, to put an exclamation point on how insane this nation has become, the person behind that Hah-vahd stupidity (who lost 9-0 at the SCOTUS) was made a SCOTASS justice even after she had perjured herself in her confirmation hearing. yep … You can’t get much lower than that (though putting another SCOTASS justice in based on “empathy” – in direct opposition to over three millenia of history of Western jurisprudence – is pretty pathetic, too).

National divorce. It’s coming … because it has to.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 20, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Just as an exercise, I tried writing down all of the amendments I could rememember. I got 16 out of 27, and missed five of the Bill of Rights.

Try it yourself. How many can you get?

Meryl Yourish on September 20, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Even that well known liberal,John Lennon, wrote “You say you’ll change the constitution, Well, you know We all want to change your head”

birdwatcher on September 20, 2013 at 2:07 PM

We need to bring back tar and feathers. Otherwise these libs are going to get us to the point where a shooting civil war is the only way to stop them- I am pretty sure this is something that our Founding Fathers would say.

Spartacus on September 20, 2013 at 2:16 PM

So now they are trying out free speech “zones” in schools to make the young ones more used to it so when time comes they can expand it into the public.

No more blogging unless you praise “the one”.

watertown on September 20, 2013 at 2:18 PM

I’m sorry, perhaps I’m not being a good conservative today. But while the school employees were being a bunch of jacka**es here, the idea that the First Amendment means that anyone can do anything they want anywhere on the grounds of a state school is ludicrous. Does the fact that I’m protected by the First Amendment mean that I could stand in a classroom at any state school, while class is in session, and pass things out? Does it mean that I could walk into the private office of any government official and do so?

People on both sides of the aisle twist the Constitution to their liking so much that it gets tiring to even try to debate it. Even though this school is paid for by the government, they can set their own policies about what is and is not permitted on school grounds. Even if those policies seem stupid to us. That’s not what the First Amendment is about.

The solution, of course, is the elimination of all state schools. But no one on “the right” wants to talk about that.

Shump on September 20, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Shump on September 20, 2013 at 2:19 PM

They can create reasonable limits, like the ones you described. But you cannot create unreasonable limits. For instance, could the college realistically say you cannot make pro-conservative statements while on campus? Or are they within their rights, because it’s their campus? I think that saying that you cannot approach someone and speak with them on the campus grounds, or saying that cannot offer them something on the campus grounds is unreasonable. If the person says no and you continue to harass them, then you are in the wrong. But what they are saying here is you cannot speak to others in certain ways without the college permission. Would they have had a problem if he stopped every woman to ask her on a date? The college is totally in the wrong here.

kenro85 on September 20, 2013 at 2:33 PM

People on both sides of the aisle twist the Constitution to their liking so much that it gets tiring to even try to debate it. Even though this school is paid for by the government, they can set their own policies about what is and is not permitted on school grounds. Even if those policies seem stupid to us. That’s not what the First Amendment is about.

Shump on September 20, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Okay so what is enforced and what isn’t enforced. They relegated passing out copies of the Constitution on Constitution day to a patch of cement. Do they hold people passing out flyers for a concert, frat party, or Amenesty International rally to the same standard? If the answer is no…….then the school isn’t setting fair and consistent standards. And if it is funded by taxpayer dollars there is a problem with that.

Happy Nomad on September 20, 2013 at 2:36 PM

I’m sorry, perhaps I’m not being a good conservative today. But while the school employees were being a bunch of jacka**es here, the idea that the First Amendment means that anyone can do anything they want anywhere on the grounds of a state school is ludicrous. Does the fact that I’m protected by the First Amendment mean that I could stand in a classroom at any state school, while class is in session, and pass things out? Does it mean that I could walk into the private office of any government official and do so?

People on both sides of the aisle twist the Constitution to their liking so much that it gets tiring to even try to debate it. Even though this school is paid for by the government, they can set their own policies about what is and is not permitted on school grounds. Even if those policies seem stupid to us. That’s not what the First Amendment is about.

The solution, of course, is the elimination of all state schools. But no one on “the right” wants to talk about that.

Shump on September 20, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Which has absolutely nothing, whatsoever, to do with this video; wherein, on Constitution Day, he’s simply on the campus grounds, as a student of that very junior college, passing out copies of that very Constitution.

What a fu&*ed up deflection. Why didn’t you, also, suggest that he not be able to wave a gun, wildly, in a classroom, as an observance of his Second Amendment right? Or that he not be able to relieve a fellow student of his/her heart, as an observance of his Azetecan religious rights?

OhEssYouCowboys on September 20, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Please contact the school President Jill Stearns at this number: (209) 575-6550 to request a copy of the rules that govern free speech on the campus. Please ask her to cite federal or state law that allows the school to regulate free speech.

paulsur on September 20, 2013 at 2:43 PM

I don’t have an issue with free speech zones, because they are necessary in some instances.

Vanceone on September 20, 2013 at 1:23 PM

No. If your town has literally made it a law that there are only certain zones where free speech is allowed then that is blatantly un-Constitutional. You might withdraw your support for such zones if you yourself were corralled into them. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t more of an informal designation for crowd control.

I think its a better solution than arresting them for disturbing the peace.

Vanceone on September 20, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Correct. There are perfectly legitimate and Constitutional law enforcement measures that can be taken to mitigate the type of conflict you describe. LDS can also modify its procedures to deal with professional protesters – e.g., private security, venue selection, limiting advance publicity, etc.

Limiting free speech is never the answer. It is un-Constitutional.

WhatSlushfund on September 20, 2013 at 2:49 PM

First, reasonable restrictions are not seen as unconstitutional. You can’t stand in the middle of the street and shout at the cars as they pass you. You can’t go into someone’s place of business and disrupt it.

GWB on September 20, 2013 at 1:31 PM

You are confusing free speech issues with crime or rule-breaking issues. Not the same thing. When police arrest someone for disrupting a business they are not arresting them for having over-stepped their free speech rights.

Second, even a government-run facility (like a college or an airport) can place restrictions on time and place – within reason. Especially as pertains to “soliciting”, which is the word they used to use about shoving pamphlets at people.

GWB on September 20, 2013 at 1:31 PM

This student could make a good argument that he wasn’t soliciting as long as he wasn’t trying to get people to donate money to the Heritage Foundation. Sounds like that was what the security guy was trying to imply. It sounds like Heritage was merely the publisher of the printed material. But, again, whether he was guilty of solicitation or not, that’s not a free speech issue, that’s a crime or rule-breaking issue. (Or perhaps contract-violating if he had signed an agreement not to solicit on campus as a condition for his acceptance to the school.)

WhatSlushfund on September 20, 2013 at 2:51 PM

the idea that the First Amendment means that anyone can do anything they want anywhere on the grounds of a state school is ludicrous.

Shump on September 20, 2013 at 2:19 PM

I don’t see anyone arguing that. If a student breaks the law or violates a code of conduct that they have agreed to, that is a separate matter, not a free speech issue.

Even though this school is paid for by the government, they can set their own policies about what is and is not permitted on school grounds.

Shump on September 20, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Sure they can. So the questions are: did he violate policies, and are those policies applied uniformly? No way of knowing just from the video. But it’s still not a free speech issue. (Although the idea of having a minuscule ‘Free Speech Zone’ on campus sure sounds creepy.) What this looks like to me is that they simply disagreed with his message so they tried to shut him down. I’d be shocked if they treated a Muslim the same way.

If he had committed a crime, then I’m assuming the security guy would have called the cops. And if he had violated some school policy, the lady in the video certainly seemed unclear as to what it was. It looks to me like they just try to corral anyone who’s views they don’t like into the ‘Free Speech Zone’ under stringent conditions, if they are permitted to share views with passers-by at all.

WhatSlushfund on September 20, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Sorry, I didn’t mean to spam. It just kind of happened that way.

WhatSlushfund on September 20, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Airports are not public throughways, but people may solicit others outside an airport entrance, which would be considered a public throughway.

NotCoach on September 20, 2013 at 1:46 PM

And, that may be a point of nuance that makes the difference between the two.

If the answer is no…….then the school isn’t setting fair and consistent standards.

Happy Nomad on September 20, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Which is a big player in the “reasonable” “time and place” restrictions.

You are confusing free speech issues with crime or rule-breaking issues. Not the same thing. When police arrest someone for disrupting a business they are not arresting them for having over-stepped their free speech rights.

WhatSlushfund on September 20, 2013 at 2:51 PM

I’m not confusing the two (though my brief comment might make it appear so), but they are related. If you exercise your free speech in a way that contradicts other reasonable restrictions, then you don’t get to defend yourself by saying “But… 1st Amendment!”

This student could make a good argument that he wasn’t soliciting as long as he wasn’t trying to get people to donate money to the Heritage Foundation. Sounds like that was what the security guy was trying to imply.

WhatSlushfund on September 20, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Very good point. Though I think the Krishnas got removed even after they said “OK, we won’t ask anyone for any money”, because it was hard to make a distinction. Here it is much easier to make that distinction.

But, again, whether he was guilty of solicitation or not, that’s not a free speech issue, that’s a crime or rule-breaking issue.

WhatSlushfund on September 20, 2013 at 2:51 PM

True. But, are we being pedant (arguing that the guard *really* should have busted him for something else) or arguing the bigger issue (whether there should be a restriction)?

I happen to think that any university busting anyone for handing out pocket Constitutions on Constitution Day is a few bricks short of a full load (barring him actually inserting it into body cavities of unwilling passers-by). The right way to handle this was – once Mr Badge had shown up, and gotten the administration involved – was to apologize to the student, sit him down with a copy of the “speech rules” and some administrators and talk about how they might better protect students’ freedoms, and get something positive out of it. Instead, they did the CYA dance to the Zero Tolerance minuet and covered themselves in ignominy. And these are the “educators”.

GWB on September 20, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Video: Student stopped from distributing Constitutions on Constitution Day

Take your tuition money elsewhere.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 20, 2013 at 4:27 PM

This is one of the Libs’ standard tactics – low intensity obstruction. They don’t come right out and say you don’t have a right to free speech (that they disagree with), but instead they “modestly” offer impossible-to-understand “reasonable restrictions,” bombard you with mind-numbing paperwork, delay, and give you the run-around until they can convince you that you have been soundly disqualified for reasons you can’t understand, or they hope you give up. It’s the same thing they do with the Second Amendment. Their goal is to force you to take them to court over it, counting on their belief that you won’t have the resources. True sleazebags.

WhatSlushfund on September 20, 2013 at 1:18 PM

This exactly describes the MO of the IRS, DOJ, NSA, etc etc etc; even the recent acquittal of Mr. DeLay exhibits the same method.

Death by a thousand paper cuts, instead of decapitation with a sword.

All the more deadly because no one person has the resources to fight back.

Three-hundred cheers for FIRE and the other organizations who stand up for individuals against the government.

AesopFan on September 20, 2013 at 4:34 PM

True. But, are we being pedant (arguing that the guard *really* should have busted him for something else) or arguing the bigger issue (whether there should be a restriction)?

GWB on September 20, 2013 at 3:33 PM

No, I don’t think we are being pedant. You are correct; there are two different debates going on in this thread: 1) Whether the First Amendment is absolute, and 2) the specifics of this student’s run-in with the security officer and the college administration. However, I have argued that this is a significant distinction. In this case, these are two separate matters.

I’m not confusing the two (though my brief comment might make it appear so), but they are related. If you exercise your free speech in a way that contradicts other reasonable restrictions, then you don’t get to defend yourself by saying “But… 1st Amendment!”

GWB on September 20, 2013 at 3:33 PM

I must respectfully disagree on one point here, strictly from a legal perspective. Free speech (First Amendment) issues, as opposed to crime or rule-breaking issues, are not related, except in the context of a Supreme Court challenge. (And who knows anymore what our screwed up Supreme Court will rule one day to the next.) But it is un-Constitutional for there to be any restrictions whatsoever, “reasonable” or otherwise, on the First Amendment. If someone commits a crime (or, in a case like this, possibly violates some agreed-to code of conduct) then they should be held accountable. And if they think that, for example, their conviction of the crime in question contradicts the First Amendment, then they can appeal to the Supreme Court. Otherwise, in theory, as far as the law is concerned, there is no contradiction or relation whatsoever between free speech issues and crime or rule-breaking issues. Every time we surrender to Constitutional revisionists any compromise whatsoever when it comes to the First Amendment being absolute, they gain another inch with regard to their goal of destroying the Constitution.

It’s one thing to have a philosophical debate about “free speech” in general, but a different thing to have a Constitutional one.

I happen to think that any university busting anyone for handing out pocket Constitutions on Constitution Day is a few bricks short of a full load (barring him actually inserting it into body cavities of unwilling passers-by). The right way to handle this was – once Mr Badge had shown up, and gotten the administration involved – was to apologize to the student, sit him down with a copy of the “speech rules” and some administrators and talk about how they might better protect students’ freedoms, and get something positive out of it. Instead, they did the CYA dance to the Zero Tolerance minuet and covered themselves in ignominy. And these are the “educators”.

GWB on September 20, 2013 at 3:33 PM

I agree. As far as the specifics of this incident (as opposed to whether or not the First Amendment is absolute), I think this whole matter was handled far from perfectly. While I admire the student’s commitment to the Constitution (I wish I had the time and ambition to hand out Constitutions on Constitution Day) when confronted by an effort to stop his activities, while it was fine to mention the First Amendment for the video’s future audience to underscore what is at stake, he should have focused primarily only on the questions:
1) Did I break the law? And
2) Did I violate a school policy, and, if so, may I see that policy in writing?

If the answer to both of those was ‘no,’ then he should have said, ‘Then I am going right back to where I was to continue.’ (He would also have to carefully handle that jerk of a security guard who it appeared was trying to bait him into some kind of physical altercation or other violation of the law.)

My guess is that these useless asleep-at-the-wheel bureaucrats he was up against probably don’t even know what their own policies are.

WhatSlushfund on September 20, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Sure you have free speech…by appointment only.

CJ on September 20, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Free Speech Zones on college campuses got their start in the late ’60s during the Vietnam War protests. Anti-war protests were getting out of hand and disrupting all college/university activities, so the admins designated areas where the hippies could scream and yell all the wanted, usually at the campus “quadrangle.”

They apparently are now using this anachronistic practice to stifle free speech–free speech that is far from disruptive.

davidk on September 20, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Why did the college get upset? The kid not give them a proper Sieg Heil and salute?

bbinfl on September 20, 2013 at 7:18 PM

SOP in the People’s Republic of Mexifornia – actively working to make Orwell’s 1984 statist fascism reality.

Now, passing out Mao’s Little Red Book, is perfectly acceptable….

Athos on September 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Yep, Mein Kampf or Mein Coran would have been just fine too.

slickwillie2001 on September 20, 2013 at 7:45 PM