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UNC BOG Democracy Coalition Protestors

John Hood: ACLU, professors’ group display illiberal approach to speech

John Hood’s Daily Journal takes two groups to task for their opposition to North Carolina’s new protections for free speech on college campuses.

The primary benefit of the University of North Carolina system’s new free-speech policy will be to protect the freedom of professors, students, and other North Carolinians to listen to whatever speakers they wish to hear without having their rights trampled by violent or abusive protestors.

That’s more than enough to justify UNC’s adoption of the policy, which was required by a free-speech law the General Assembly enacted earlier this year. But it turns out that there has been a side benefit: outing the illiberal views of two organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Association of University Professors, that tried to convince the UNC Board of Governors not to adopt its free-speech protections. …

… On a public university campus, in particular, a basic liberal understanding of the rights of free expression and free association would lead inevitably to the kind of policy that the UNC system just adopted. If a student group or professor invites a speaker to campus, you and I have the right to attend or not attend as we see fit. If I attend and you show up at the auditorium with your comrades to shout down the speaker, so that I and other audience members can’t hear her, you aren’t exercising free expression or free association. You are suppressing the freedom of others. There is no “heckler’s veto.”

The ACLU and AAUP apparently think otherwise.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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