FREE SPEECH NEWS: Florida to Introduce Legislation Outlawing "Free Speech Zones" on College Campuses

This March 2, photo shows Middlebury College students protesting a planned lecture by writer Charles Murray, who some have called a white nationalist. Hundreds of students turned their back before Murray was to start his lecture and chanted forcing the school to move the talk to an undisclosed location.

Well, this is a little good news.

The move to end the nonsense on America’s college campuses is spreading from state to state.

Unfortunately, I’m not talking about turning our colleges back to places for academic excellence and away from liberal indoctrination. That’s going to continue, I’m sure.


Campus Reform is reporting that Florida has now joined 21 states in introducing legislation that clamps down on the so-called “free speech zones.”

The “Campus Free Expression Act,” filed in mid-December by State Senator Dennis Baxley and State Representative Bob Rommel, would restrict federally funded institutions of higher education from designating any area of campus as a “free speech zone.”

“Kids today…are being taught that it is wrong to express any views that may be controversial or don’t agree with the majority.”    Tweet This

If passed, the bill would prohibit colleges and universities from imposing blanket restrictions on speech in outdoor areas of campus, defining those areas as “traditional public forums” open to anybody wishing to use them for free expression, as long as “the person’s conduct is lawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of  the public institution of higher education.”

This is one of those things you’d think the First Amendment had already taken care of, but with the introduction of Antifa, and all the butthurt liberal professors infesting campuses, some of the most basic rights of conservative thinkers have been ignored.

What we’ve seen in the recent past is that when conservatives come to speak on a campus, they’re shouted down by the delicate millennials, so wrapped up in this notion that what they learned over the internet from their bedrooms at their parents’ homes, to what is ladled into their brains by their liberal professors is all there is to know. Introducing another point of view disrupts their carefully cultivated worldview.


Yeah. That stops, too.

The legislation introduced in Florida also addresses what they call the “heckler’s veto” – those who seek to shout out and otherwise disrupt invited speakers on campuses – by proposing a $100,000 fine for the first offense, plus court costs and attorney fees.


Now, there have been some speakers so loathsome, they shouldn’t have been invited, to begin with, because, frankly, what they propose as normal is a dangerous toxin introduced into the bloodstream of the public.

White Nationalist, Richard Spencer, who saw a scheduled speaking engagement at the University of Florida cancelled last year, would be a good example.

Rommel told The Tampa Bay Times that the bill was not written in response to the Richard Spencer event at the University of Florida in October, saying it was based on model legislation crafted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education long before the Spencer controversy.

“Now we’re cordoning people off into little squares, into free speech zones,” Baxley added. “It is a growing concern that we’re dissolving into a very narrow view of the world that has to be politically correct to a certain standard, and if you have anything to say that’s not in that little square, then the new tactic is not to debate you, but to silence you.”


Rommel isn’t alone in his concerns for how the free exchange of ideas has been squelched on college campuses.

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow with the Heritage Foundation applauded the legislation.

“Too many administrators and too many students today seem to have the same view towards speech that the Soviet Union had towards dissenters from their communist ideology—any speech that differs from whatever the prevailing orthodoxy and politically correct ideology is on campus must be banned,” Spakovsky stated. “They have no appreciation for the rights protected under the First Amendment.”

“Restricting such speech to only a limited space is the very antithesis of what universities are supposed to do. It is a betrayal of their fundamental purpose,” he argued. “Kids today grow up in K-12 schools and then colleges with severe, restrictive speech codes in place. They are being taught that it is wrong to express any views that may be controversial or don’t agree with the majority.”

And he made another very pertinent point.

These little college tyrants and oppressors of free speech will go out into the world and take that attitude with them into the different fields they cover. What effect will that have on our future society, if we don’t teach them to handle opposing views, maturely, now?


When Florida’s legislative session begins on January 9, this bill will be one that is considered.

Of the 21 states where the legislation has already been introduced, I’m happy to say that my state, North Carolina, is one of 7 that have already passed the bill into state law (along with Virginia, Tennessee, Utah, and Colorado), so if a Ben Shapiro or even an Ann Coulter wants to speak at one of the campuses in North Carolina, their right to speak and be heard is protected.

Maybe if this catches on, there will be enough places for kids to go and learn where they might actually benefit from hearing something outside of the echo chamber.



Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos