A Tennessee bill designed to protect freedom of speech on college campuses, known as “The MILO Bill,” was filed today with a press conference held afterward.
The press conference was held by Martin Daniels, the representative for Tennessee’s 18th district. Senator Joey Hensley was also present at the meeting, explaining the need for the bill, titled, “Tennessee Freedom of Speech on College Campus Bill,” and the desired outcome of the legislation.
“We just want to ensure that our public universities give all students the right to free expression,” said Senator Hensley. “Too many times we’ve seen classrooms where the professor doesn’t want to hear both sides of an issue, we’ve heard stories from many students that, honestly, are on the conservative side that have those issues stifled in the classroom. We just want to ensure our public universities allow all types of speech.”
“We’ve recently been instituting new board members for some of our higher education institutions. Six of our four-year universities this year are getting new board members, and as a member of the Senate education committee, we try to stress to these new boards that we hope that these universities, public universities, are there to allow all students to have their right to express their speech,” Senator Hensley continued. “We don’t want to allow hate speech or offensive speech but certainly when it comes to political issues, every student should have their right to expression, and this bill goes towards that, trying to allow these students to have their right for free expression.”
A young woman then read a statement prepared by Breitbart Senior Editor MILO: “Thank you all for coming out today in defense of free speech on campus. I’d have loved to join you in Tennessee, but I’m stuck in sunny Florida preparing to make our headlines in defense of a right we all hold dear, the freedom of students, professors and guest speakers to speak their ideas on campus, no matter how unpopular they may be with the liberal elite.”
“There was a time, not too long ago in fact, when the MILO bill was not necessary,” the statement continued. “Colleges and Universities existed to challenge cherished ideas, foster a culture of free expression and develop in students a robust ability to reason and compare different ideas.”
“But that time has passed,” the statement continued. “Berkeley University, once the home of the free speech movement, is now the home of violently attacking those with the audacity to disagree with left-wing politics. At other universities, students are ostracized or flunked out of classes for politically incorrect ideas, and still other schools either outright barred me from appearing to speak or used last minute security fees as a slimy way to weasel out of allowing me to appear.”
“Vanishingly few schools have embraced the free speech principles outlined by the University of Chicago, and until they all do, the culture war that has erupted on campuses will not be over. We are winning the war. And we will continue to win as long as students, and now defenders of free speech within the government, stand up to ivory tower intellectuals and left-wing administrators intent on shutting up any speech they don’t find convenient,” MILO’s statement concluded.
Scottie Nell Hughes, political editor of RightAlerts.com, then read out her own statement, saying:
When on the campus of Central Florida University, a training event is held and publicized as the ‘leftist fight club, open to all unless you are a Republican,’ we have a problem. When students are arrested at a small community college in Michigan, thrown in jail overnight, because they wanted to hand out a pocket-sized Constitution, we have a problem. And when last week, as we talked about, at the University of California Berkeley, masked protesters threw fireworks, rocks, and Molotov cocktails igniting fires, destroying property, breaking windows in the student union, assaulting a woman who was wearing a red Trump hat, all of this to show their anger at a conservative speaker, MILO, who has been invited to speak on several campuses, we definitely have a problem.
So just like other times in American history where there have been problems in our country, when citizens rights have been infringed, Tennesseans are stepping up to the solution. My name is Scottie Nell Hughes, a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin and a Skyhawk. And it is an honor to stand here today next to Representative Martin Daniel and Senator Joey Hensley and their sponsorship of this Tennessee student free expression act, or as I’m liking to call it, the MILO bill. In honor of a man who wasn’t allowed to speak at Berkeley as well as other college institutions around our country. This used to be known as the home of free speech. While I respect both the representative and the state senator, I don’t know if this legislation will put them in the same category as Davy Crocket, or Nancy Ward, or James Napier, yet. However, I highly esteem them for seeing a problem and having a solution. I always listen to every person that presents a problem, but I actually pay close attention to those that offer solutions. These men have the solution for the students in our great state of Tennessee and want to ensure that their first amendment rights will always be protected.
Luke Elliot, a student at the University of Tennessee and vice president of the College Republicans, then spoke briefly:
This bill is very important to me because I have witnessed first hand the attack upon free speech at our state universities. I’ve spoken to many students across the country that feel like their views are not welcome at their own school, I believe that freedom of speech is an essential column to our republic. Censorship and safe spaces do not promote a healthy and open culture of thought, at UT, for example, there is a complicated and bureaucratic process required for a club to distribute free information on public property and that is something that this bill will fix. Students are often intimidated by the academic elite in the classroom, Tennessee is a conservative state, we will not allow out of touch professors with no real world experience to intimidate eighteen-year-olds. We must prepare our students for the real world. If a student feels the need for a safe space, they are welcome to visit the councilling center at their university. This should not be a partisan issue, we should respect all points of view to ensure that we have an open dialogue about the issues facing our country.
A short Q&A session was held after the press conference where Representative Daniels and Senator Hensley fielded queries about the bill.