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FIRE attorney breaks down Hamline University controversy for British audiences

FIRE attorney Alex Morey on Free Speech Nation

FIRE attorney Alex Morey on the British news show "Free Speech Nation"

FIRE attorney breaks down Hamline University controversy for British audiences

Free speech laws and culture are much different on the other side of the Atlantic, but that doesn’t limit FIRE’s advocacy to this side of the pond. Recently, FIRE attorney Alex Morey appeared on the British television station GB News to discuss FIRE’s support for professor Erika López Prater, who was punished by Hamline University for showing a well-known depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in an art history class. 

Appearing on the news show “Free Speech Nation,” Morey explained for British audiences why this case is so important in the United States. Because college administrators across the country are acting on “complaints from students premised solely on protected expression . . . and treating it as if it’s legally actionable discrimination or harassment,” she said, faculty and students alike are being punished “without an ounce of due process or even following the college’s own policies.”

When asked if college administrators in the U.S. are stepping over the line to police what can be taught in the classroom, Morey said, “Absolutely.”

Academic freedom is an incredibly important corollary of free expression. In the U.S., we have the First Amendment, so at public colleges they must respect people’s freedom of expression. At private colleges like Hamline, they can choose what they elevate as their most important principles and this one chooses to say we care about free expression, we care about academic freedom, but then they don’t follow through. As soon as a student complains, as soon as it gets traction on Twitter, that sort of thing, administrators these days are very averse to any type of controversy, and they find it much more advantageous to protect their college brand . . . rather than respect that one faculty member’s rights, or that one student’s rights, but of course there are downstream consequences for free speech and academic freedom.

Watch the full video.

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