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Florida Legislature Outlaws 'Free Speech Zones' on Campuses

Man with tape over his mouth

A tiny victory for free speech advocates on campus occurred when the Florida legislature passed a massive education reform bill that included the elimination of "free speech zones" on the state's college campuses.

Campus Reform:

Joe Cohn, legislative policy director for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) told Campus Reform that the elimination of free speech zones will benefit students.

“Students shouldn’t have their free speech rights quarantined into misleadingly labeled free speech zones and unfortunately public institutions in Florida are doing just that,” he said.

Burnett also observed that the “Cause of Action” would allow students to sue the public institution in a state court if their First Amendment rights are violated, noting that this would be cheaper to litigate as opposed to a federal court.

“The Florida affiliate (of the ACLU) is somewhat of an outlier here in the position that they are taking, and in this particular instance, we think they’re wrong and we look forward to working with them on issues of common ground in the future,” he said, claiming that the Florida ACLU deviates in this respect from the other ACLU chapters across the country.

In a statement to Campus Reform, Generation Opportunity (GO-FL), a nonpartisan organization committed to more freedom and a bright future for all young Americans, said that the ending of free speech zones will help students confront challenging ideas.

“Attempting to limit the First Amendment rights of students by tucking them into the hidden corners of campus is not only unconstitutional but goes against the very concept of what a college education should be about,” said GO-FL’s Coalitions Director Demetrius Minor. “College is a place where young people go to learn new ideas and challenge concepts on their merits, but that dialogue will never occur if free expression is not openly permitted on campus.”

The bill now heads to the governor's desk and will go into law if signed.

The very concept of a "free speech zone" is so repugnant to democracy and the First Amendment that I'm surprised more states don't follow Florida's lead and ban them all. But in the battle for young minds, the radical left holds all the cards. They make the rules, they define "hate speech," they marginalize, intimidate, and try to destroy viewpoints that differ from their own.

I'm old enough to remember campus free speech advocates in the late 1960s accusing conservative professors and college administrations of exactly the same thing. Those radicals now control campuses and have indoctrinated pliable young minds with the poison of "social justice." There's nothing wrong with "social justice" as long as the "justice" part is non-partisan and non-ideological. It's not. That makes it little more than a means to intimidate and even destroy those who disagree.

Let's hope this is the beginning of a nationwide movement to restore the concept of free speech on campus.