The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) recently announced a campaign to shut down new campus free-speech legislation across the country.
A new program from the American Association of University Professors called “One Faculty, One Resistance,” seeks to shut down campus free speech legislation that is designed to prevent the censorship of invited speakers on public campuses.
“‘Campus free-speech’ bills actually seek to suppress speech by creating a litigious environment and imposing minimum penalties on protesters,” the group wrote in a bizarre document about new campus free speech laws.
The group is transparent in their anti-free speech stance. They write that they are concerned about new state laws that punish students who shut down guest speaker events. In some states, students could face expulsion or suspension up to one year for interfering with the free expression of others.
Legislation inspired by the Goldwater Institute allows individuals to sue a public institution if they feel their free-speech rights have been impinged on campus. This creates a litigious atmosphere that could cause administrators to suppress the voices of student protesters out of fear of being sued. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against public institutions that canceled talks by Richard Spencer, citing safety concerns and high security costs. A recent student conference by the right-wing organization Turning Point USA sponsored a breakout session entitled “Suing Your School 101: Knowing and Defending the First Amendment on Campus.”
Goldwater-inspired legislation, including that in Michigan and North Carolina, calls for strict disciplinary penalties, such as expulsion or suspension for up to one year, for students who are found to have interfered with the free expression of others. These penalties have serious repercussions for students, and in some cases would make punishment for interrupting a speaker harsher than for more serious offences. The legislation’s vagueness about what constitutes interference with free speech could exacerbate these problems and further chill protest activity.
There are plenty of ways in the modern world to express disagreement with controversial speech on campus. Resorting to tactics or behaviors that result in shutting down the free expression of others is never acceptable. It is troubling that the AAUP and its members are interested in coming to the defense of the radical few students that seek to make academia a less inclusive and open place.