The Corner

Free Speech Fireworks in Florida

I testified yesterday before the Post-Secondary Education Subcommittee of the Florida State House on the model campus free speech legislation I co-authored with Jim Manley and Jonathan Butcher of Arizona’s Goldwater Institute. After my initial presentation, fireworks followed. Although my sense is that the majority of the committee is positively inclined toward legislation designed to ensure campus free speech, a few of the Democratic representatives were more skeptical. These skeptics dominated the questioning. One skeptic in particular, Orlando Democrat Carlos Guillermo Smith, pressed me repeatedly on the need to limit freedom of speech in order to combat hate speech. If you want to see an open clash on the free speech vs. hate speech controversy, this is it.

You can find video of the hearing here. My initial presentation runs about 17 minutes, from the 35:50—53:27 mark of the video. The fireworks come during the 32 minute question period, particularly (but not exclusively) during the back and forth with Rep. Smith, which begins at the start of the question period (53:30) and returns again at the 1:18:16 mark.

Also note that in my response to questioning by Democratic Representative Robert Asencio (Miami-Dade), (which begins at 1:12:22), I refer to an incident in which leftist students silence a conservative student by way of the rehearsed and coordinated tactic of “clapping her down.” Video of this clap-down can be found here.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at