‘Free Speech…With Permission Only’

By on April 18, 2005

Check out this excellent article by Ron
Jacobs of the University of Vermont (UVM) in CounterPunch’s weekend
edition about free speech on campuses including UC Berkeley, Harvard University,
Emerson College, and UVM. Here’s an excerpt:

There is currently a regulation on the books here at UVM
(where I work) that demands that any group—whether student or not—get a permit
to espouse their philosophy on campus. Why? What is the university afraid of?
Communists? Out of control religious zealots? And who made them the arbiter of
who should be allowed to have freedom of speech and who should not? These regulations
are like those in many towns and cities that forbid rallies and demonstrations
by residents unless the groups or individuals involved pay for the police and
other services the municipality insists that it must provide. Of course, the
protestors usually don’t want the police and consider their presence as part of
the police department’s regular duties. In addition, the police presence is
something already paid for as part of their taxes. It is time to remove these
regulations from the books. To do so may invite ideas we don’t want to hear,
but it will also create an environment where we can debate and challenge ideas
we disagree with. If we don’t live and study in a democratic environment, how
will we know how to make one once we leave this place? If the first amendment
isn’t fought for, it will continue to disappear. Remember, Tom Paine didn’t ask
the British for a permit to publish Common Sense.

Schools: University of Vermont