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.