Cracking the Speech Code

By March 19, 2009

Good morning everybody. I am going to follow the template that Steve Balch asked me to. He sent me an e-mail asking me to cover a number of topics.

The first thing he said was, "You'll take up the topic of the state of free speech and civil liberties on campus." I should hope so, because that's kind of what FIRE does. I'm going to start with some examples. Right now, FIRE is dealing with a case at Michigan State University[2], where a student was found guilty of "spamming" for e-mailing to a certain percentage of the professoriate a letter that she had written (along with the student government) criticizing the fact that the university had reduced the semester by four days. Faculty and students were angry about this change, and regardless of the fact that she was a student government leader commenting on an issue of great public concern, she was found guilty. The university has ignored 13 civil liberties organizations who wrote to point out that this was absurd and that one has the right to "petition the government for a redress of grievances...