Free Speech at the Universities

Kent Fuchs, University of Florida President, and Glenn Altschuler, Cornell Professor of American Studies, have some…interesting…thoughts on this in their recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Public universities that choose to grant access to speakers who are not invited or affiliated with the institution are legally obligated to accept all such speakers. As a result, they may become hostage to Nazis or other extremists—forced to stand by as these groups capitalize on their university’s visibility and prestige to amplify their vile messages.

Fuchs and Altschuler wrote that as if it were a bad thing.  I have to ask: why are they so terrified of a contest of ideas in an open, public forum?


[A] partial solution [to handling costs] could entail a new Federal Extremist Speakers Fund to help universities with their exorbitant security costs. That would shift the financial burden of following the First Amendment to the government that requires universities to do so.

Wow.  Apparently, Fuchs and Altschuler slept through their eighth-grade Civics class.  Government isn’t making universities do anything here.  We the People, through our 1st Amendment, are making the government protect free speech in all public forums.


Meanwhile, when openly racist and virulently anti-Semitic speakers show up on campus, we need to deprive them of attention and confrontation, the oxygen on which they thrive, by shunning them.

Certainly.  And that will happen pretty much automatically over the course of the ideas contest of which Fuchs and Altschuler are so terrified.

One thought on “Free Speech at the Universities

  1. Far more effective would be “allowing” them to have their soapbox … and the lack of attention paid their ideas would give the game away. Only if any party engages in violence is there a need for action – to stop and punish the violence, not the words, however provocative.

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