Florida legislature bans 'free speech zones' on state campuses

A bit of good news out of Florida where the legislature passed an education reform bill that includes a provision that would outlaw campus "free speech zones."

Liberals have used these misnamed "free speech zones" to marginalize people and ideas they didn't agree with. Florida becomes the first state to ban them.

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.

Considering how these zones were enforced, you would think that they'd be banned in other states as well. But opposition to any move that would empower conservative ideas and people is strong within the education lobby, who make the argument that free speech zones are necessary to prevent unrest and protect students.

The very notion of a "free speech zone" is repugnant to democracy and an affront to the First Amendment. But with radicals firmly in charge, they make the rules and enforce their codes with little opposition so far from state education authorities.

It's a small victory, but a significant one nonetheless. It shows that we can successfully pushback against the radicalization of our schools and protect the rights of all to freedom of speech.

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