JLF Triangle Blog

Speech Police or Study Commission?

Let’s hope UNC President Erskine Bowles resists the urge to climb on the speech police bandwagon that rolls into Chapel Hill this week. The study commission he created in the wake of the discovery of disgusting comments about President-Elect Obama in NC State’s Free Expression Tunnel holds a public forum this week.

It is alarming that in America — a country whose founders were willing to die for freedom, including the right to speak their minds without retribution from government — some people are so easily lead down a path toward government coercion and government-enforced silence.

The views painted in the NC State Free Expression Tunnel were offensive, rude, close-minded, and vulgar. They have been exposed and denounced, and the people who wrote them have been embarrassed. That is the way to handle offensive speech. Silencing people is the last thing we should do.

Thankfully, the organization known as FIRE — Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — is monitoring the Bowles commission. My husband, Rick, and I conducted an interview with Samantha Harris of FIRE about two weeks ago for North Carolina’s Morning News on NewsTalk 680 WPTF. She discusses how the UNC System fares in FIRE’s annual report on free speech on college campuses and her thoughts on the Bowles commission.

To access the Harris interview, go to the archive of North Carolina’s Morning News here. Then scroll down the list of interviews to the Dec. 26 entry with Samantha Harris.

An alternate route: Go to www.wptf.com. Click on “On Demand” and then “North Carolina’s Morning News.” Scroll down the archive to Dec. 26 with Samantha Harris.

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