Professors Warn Of ‘Thought Police’ But Outnumbered By Peers

February 12, 2015

By Bob Kellogg at

A number of professors at a South Carolina university apparently want to ban hateful free speech on social media.

More than 100 Clemson University faculty and staff signed their names to a school newspaper ad denouncing “hateful statements” on Facebook, Twitter and an app called Yik Yak.

Three other professors, meanwhile, are demanding free-speech rights (see photo below) in their own ad.

A student group created the ad to demand “diversity training;” more funding for “under-represented” groups on campus; and construction of a multi-cultural center, among other demands.

Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says it’s sad to see “calls for censorship” from faculty at a university, which would be unconstitutional.

“A university is supposed to be a place where all ideas are able to be considered,” says Shibley, “and this flies right in the face of that.”

An online January story in The Greenville Newsreported that Clemson students were targeting Yik Yak in particular after some students used the app to post “numerous racially insensitive” posts, which is being blamed for worsening racial tensions on campus after a fraternity dressed as gang members for a party.

The story quoted the university’s chief diversity officer, who said a campus-wide ban is “under consideration.”

The story also reported that the app’s creators, after reports of online bullying, have already eliminated its access to users under 17 years old, and have banned it from high schools and middle schools.

When it comes right down to it, Shibley says, there is no such thing as hate speech.

“What people like to call ‘hate speech’ doesn’t have a definition in American law and is, in fact, not illegal,” Shibley, an attorney, tells OneNewsNow. “What you or I think may think is hateful may not be what the next person thinks is hateful.”

Three dissenting professors took out their own full-page ad in the school newspaper, stating they would stand against anything that compromises freedom of speech.

“In the name of genuine tolerance and diversity,” the ad stated, “let there be no thought crimes or thought police at Clemson University.”

Campus Reform reports the professors wrote that they pledged to “work tirelessly to fight censorship and keep alive the spirit of open-minded inquiry.”

The three professors teach political science, history, and physics and astronomy.

Schools: Clemson University