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ACLU’s Lee Rowland discusses campus free speech “realities and myths”

“My name is Lee Rowland. I’m an unabashed progressive. I’m a skeptic. I’m anti-authoritarian. For all of those reasons, I believe in a robust and indivisible First Amendment.”

That’s how Lee Rowland, a First Amendment attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, concludes her TEDx talk at the University of Nevada, Reno — a short discussion of the importance of free speech, on and off campus, that is well worth your time.

Rowland summarizes free speech issues confronting society today — from Colin Kaepernick to hate speech — and places them in the context of freedom of expression in higher education. She explains that skepticism of whether constitutional rights are equally distributed is well warranted — and not just those recognized by the First Amendment — but the answer is not to draw back on free speech rights, but instead to “ratchet everybody up to that same level of protection for constitutional rights.” It’s “our job to make sure that everybody benefits from those rights.”

Here’s Rowland’s TEDx talk:

And here’s the “goofy tuba line” video Rowland mentions towards the end (which, as she points out, is actually a sousaphone):

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