The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is reporting that the state of Tennessee has passed a law aimed at curbing the intolerance of unpopular opinions on college campuses. The law has several provisions that probably won’t make the wannabe dictators and social justice warriors happy.
The new law has several provisions which will ensure that free speech thrives on public campuses throughout Tennessee. The law will:
- Require institutions to adopt policies consistent with the University of Chicago’s Free Speech Policy Statement;
- Prohibit the use of misleadingly labeled “free speech zones”;
- Define student-on-student harassment in a way that is consistent with the definition provided by the Supreme Court of the United States in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education;
- Bar institutions from rescinding invitations to speakers invited by students or faculty;
- Prohibit viewpoint discrimination in the allocation of student fees to student organizations; and
- Protect faculty from being punished for speech in the classroom, unless the speech is both “not reasonably germane to the subject matter of the class as broadly construed, and comprises a substantial portion of classroom instruction.”
The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Tennessee House of Representatives by a vote of 85-7, and prevailed on a unanimous 30-0 vote in the Senate.
The full text of the bill is available here. Here are some key excerpts:
An institution shall be committed to maintaining a campus as a marketplace of ideas for all students and all faculty in which the free exchange of ideas is not to be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the institution’s community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical, or wrong-headed;
Amazing that such a thing even needs to be written into a law.
An institution shall not disinvite a speaker invited by a student, student organization, or faculty member because the speaker’s anticipated speech may be considered offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical, or wrong-headed by students, faculty, administrators, government officials, or members of the public.
In other words, don’t be Berkeley.