Free speech in peril at the University of North Dakota

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (www.thefire.org), for instance, features a “speech code of the month” – last month, the speech code from the University of North Dakota, which is so vague that, as FIRE puts it, “is so vague that students have no way of knowing whether their speech or expression might inadvertently run afoul of the policy.”

While preventing harassment, racism and sexism is an important goal, it’s still constitutionally dubious to outlaw “offending” people.

This is not a mere academic concern. These cases involve real people and their right to free speech. Washington Post columnist George Will recently highlighted one case in which a student-employee at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) was actually rung up for racial harassment for quietly reading a book – one that celebrated the defeat of the Ku Klux Klan at Notre Dame University.

The book in question was said to be available in the school library.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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