Phi Beta Cons

About Those Zones

Nathan, few things better exemplify the contemporary university attitude towards free speech than speech zones. To the modern university culture, free speech is a problem to be managed. In other words, it’s a bug — not a feature. And how do large government institutions manage their problems? Through vast and mind-numbing bureaucracies. One of the most telling passages from the original Crimson White article was this little gem:

According to Mallory Flowers, president of the University of Alabama’s chapter of Environmental Council, the student organization went through the proper process to acquire a permit for last Thursday’s rally. Flowers said the process was confusing because various offices on campus had different answers concerning whether the group needed a permit to hold their rally or not.

“Some offices told us there were designated free speech zones while others told us we needed to get a permit. At one point I was even given a map outlining First Amendment areas on campus. Finally, we learned we did need to acquire a permit from UA Grounds and Facilities,” Flowers said.

Translation: The university’s free-speech bureaucracy is so confusing that even the bureaucrats don’t understand it.

Of course a university can take steps to ensure that free speech doesn’t disrupt actual educational activities, but carving out First Amendment-free zones on otherwise-open campus spaces is a poor — and often unconstitutional — way to maintain the marketplace of ideas.

Most Popular

World

China’s Pandemic Deception

You’ve made it to December in our annus horribilis. On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic. More ... Read More
World

China’s Pandemic Deception

You’ve made it to December in our annus horribilis. On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic. More ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More