Suppose that a college student wanted to point out the foolishness of gun-free zones by pretending to create a “murder-free zone” on campus. Is that expression protected by the First Amendment against pusillanimous officials of a public university? At Portland State University, those officials think not.
Reason’s Robby Soave tells the story of student Christian Britschgi here. He wanted to criticize the logic behind the “gun-free zones” we increasingly find in America and sought permission to pass out flyers on campus. As you might guess, administrators felt obliged to step in. Britschgi is quoted as saying, “With no degree of irony, the supervisor claimed our posters were so inflammatory that they could get us physically attacked by another student. Apparently there exists a large number of pro-murder partisans at Portland State.”
Now, if we take the university’s position seriously, it means that leftist, anti-gun students and faculty members are so prone to violence (with something other than a gun, presumably) at the mere ridicule of one of their ideas that free speech must be curtailed in the name of safety. Or if we don’t take it seriously, we have to conclude that the administrators will stoop to ridiculous excuses for silencing those who disagree with orthodox leftist beliefs.
There is something to be said for the former conclusion. After all, leftists have frequently shown that they’ll resort to at least low-grade violence when “triggered” by people who disagree with them. But I’m inclined toward the latter.