Tennessee Bill Would Ban Punishment for Offensive Speech, ‘Microaggressions’ at Universities

AP Photo/Valentina Petrova
AP Photo/Valentina Petrova

The state legislature of Tennessee is considering a bill which will ensure universities and colleges are powerless to punish students on the basis of making mean or offensive comments.

The proposal, named The Tennessee Student Free Speech Protection Act, would ban institutions from creating systems that allow students to report incidents with the expectation of disciplinary action, unless it involves a “genuine threat or harassment.

It would also prohibit schools from punishing students for “microaggressions,” which refers to incidents where people take offence to a subtle or even misunderstood comment.

“The best kind of educational environment is one where there’s a lot of controversy and conversation about various issues, and we encourage students to speak up,” state Rep. Martin Daniel, a Knoxville Republican who introduced the bill, told The College Fix.

“We want our students to be prepared for the real world, and those classes of speech that might be considered micro-aggressions just happen in the real world” he added.

The move represents another crackback against campus crybullies and the tyranny of “safe spaces,” zones where students are banned from making “offensive” comments and a university mechanism for censoring speakers they deem to be controversial.

The law itself, which is to be discussed next Tuesday by the Education, Administration and Planning subcommittee, would prohibit schools from “punishing, disciplining, or censuring students for the content of students’ lawful speech by way of or through any of the faculty, employees, or organizations of the institution.”

Authorities would therefore be mandated to protect students’ rights to peacefully convene and exert freedom of speech to anything within the confines of the law. Campus leaders would also be prohibited from restricting free speech to designated zones or areas.

If passed, the law would go into effect July 1, 2016.

You can follow Ben Kew on Facebook, on Twitter at @ben_kew or email at ben@yiannopoulos.net


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