In his latest blog for The Huffington Post, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff discusses university administrators who have been citing the rash of campus shootings to justify punishing protected speech. Greg writes:
In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, we all knew things on college campuses were going to change. Even the most cynical among us, however, probably didn’t think to themselves, “Hey, how can I use this horrible tragedy to my advantage?”
But regardless of whether that despicable thought ever popped into college administrators’ heads or not, the simple fact is that some administrators have been using the campus shootings of the past two years as an excuse to justify cracking down on speech they don’t like.
The most dramatic recent example of college administrators using the specter of campus shootings to silence speech occurred last month at Colorado College, where students have been found guilty of ‘violence’ for publishing a satirical flyer.
Greg also cites other instances “where an imaginary threat of ‘violence’ is the pretext used to punish speech that offends some students or administrators,” such as in FIRE’s case at Valdosta State University, where a student was expelled for peacefully protesting the construction of a parking garage, and at Arkansas Tech, where a student production of the musical Assassins was cancelled because of the presence of prop guns. Greg concludes:
Campus administrators really need to understand that the real danger lies in conflating simple hurt feelings and anger with legitimate threats of violence. Administrators have to be able to distinguish between actual threats to campus safety and simple alarmism, lest they trivialize serious claims of potential violence.
Read Greg’s entire blog here.