College Bans On-Campus Christian Preaching as 'Fighting Words'

Many in academia are hostile towards free speech and the Second Amendment. Georgia Gwinnett College, for example, has forbidden unpopular speech from its campus unless you are physically located in one of their “free speech zones.”

But, as one young preacher found out, speech is censored even within those zones, too — because the school’s policy on voicing positive words about Christianity is apparently “shut up”:

Yet even after following the proper procedures and reserving space in a free-speech zone, Uzuegbunam was again told to desist, this time because his speech had apparently “generated complaints” and constituted “disorderly conduct.”

Consequently, ADF sued the school on behalf of Uzuegbunam, with Legal Counsel Travis Barham remarking that “while touting commitments to ‘diversity’ and ‘open communications,’ Georgia Gwinnett College confines the speech of students to two ridiculously small speech zones and then censors the speech that occurs in those areas.”

“The First Amendment guarantees every student’s freedom of speech and religion,” he stated in a December press release. “Every public school — and especially a state college that is supposed to be the ‘marketplace of ideas’ — has the duty to protect and promote those freedoms.”

Now, though, ADF has informed Campus Reform that the school has filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiff’s “open-air speaking” rose “to the level of ‘fighting words,’” as evidenced in a copy of the motion obtained by Campus Reform.

“Plaintiff exclaimed a divisive message directly to a group of ‘many’ individuals while standing on top of a stool, and, in doing so, actually caused a disturbance,” the motion contends, adding that the “Plaintiff used contentious religious language that, when directed to a crowd, has a tendency to incite hostility.”

The phrase “has a tendency to incite hostility” indicates this happens often. Can Georgia Gwinett College cite numerous examples of such hostility? And can they present such examples that aren’t simply religious discrimination by mob veto?

Not likely.

The Supreme Court has affirmed the right of even the Westboro Baptist Church to speak freely. Uzuegbunam’s speech would have to be pretty repulsive to extend beyond what the troglodytes at Westboro do on a regular basis.

It’s well past time that American colleges remember they are located within the world’s only real free speech zone — the United States. And young adults should be taught that life within society means you need to cope with people who disagree with you, and that you have no right to silence anyone.