Conservative speech is so routinely suppressed on liberal college campuses that it’s almost not worth reporting any more. It seems like every week, we hear about a new university where a speaker has been disallowed from appearing at a school or a conservative student group who’s had their right to free speech stifled because it was deemed politically incorrect.
While that’s certainly nothing new, how non-profit legal group Speech First plans to deal with it is.
According to The College Fix, the group exists to sue schools who suppress speech on campus. It funds all this through a $5 membership fee, for which members will be assured that they “can stand with us to defend the First Amendment, ensuring that students will be supported every step of the way: on campus, in the media, and in court.”
“Students’ speech rights on campus are threatened on a regular basis,” Speech First’s website reads.
“But the prospect of standing up to a school can be overwhelming – it can be expensive and time-consuming (not to mention awkward, since the student probably still wants a diploma at the end of the day),” the site adds.
“That’s why most students don’t take action. But what if students who wanted to stand up for free speech on campus were supported by likeminded students from all over the country? And what if those students were part of an organization that had the resources to fight back? Suddenly, it’s not so daunting after all.”
The group bills itself as a “nationwide community to reassure students that they won’t fight these cases alone” and a “membership association of students, parents, faculty, alumni, and concerned citizens from across the country who’ve had enough, and who want to fight back.”
“We believe that free and open discourse is an essential component of a comprehensive education,” their website notes. “We are committed to restoring the freedom of speech on college campuses because we believe that by exposing students to different and challenging ideas, they will emerge stronger, smarter, and more resilient.”
Speech First is led by Nicole Neily, formerly an activist with (yes, believe it) the ACLU who briefly led the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which runs Watchdog.org, a site dedicated to cataloguing waste by government and its related organizations.
In the group’s FAQ, they say that they will decide what suits to bring against which schools “(b)y listening to our members and carefully monitoring schools. We will act to protect students from schools that try to stop them from expressing their views.”
The group doesn’t note what type of suppressed speech they’ll be trying to end, but, let’s face it, there’s not a whole lot of appetite in academia to suppress liberal opinions. So, those who give $5 to them will likely be supporting conservative causes.
Oh, and they’re fond of tweeting stuff Betsy DeVos says, which typically isn’t the sign of a group with liberal inclinations:
— Speech First (@Speech_First) March 3, 2018
Whether or not Speech First is able to make a dent in censorship in higher education remains to be seen. The group is a relatively new one, and the size of their membership will largely determine how many cases they can bring.
One thing’s for sure, though: we can think of much worse ways to spend $5.
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