This week, the University of Minnesota made the correct decision and dismissed calls to censor a play called “The Pope and the Witch”. Catholic interest groups had been protesting the play calling it “pure hate speech” because of its negative portrayal of the Pope and Catholicism. When asked to justify the decision, a university official used precisely the correct answer in stating, “…academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas are the hallmarks of higher education.”
Censorship of offensive or controversial plays on college campuses in nothing new. In 2005, FIRE was forced to intervene in a very similar situation to protect the rights of Washington State University student Chris Lee to hold his controversial play, “Passion of the Musical.”
As FIRE has stated time and time again, the answer to offensive speech is more speech and never censorship. If you find a particular play offensive, then you have every right to organize your community and protest it, but you never have the right to use the government to censor it.