#ncga: The tuition may be $teep, but the speech will be FREE.

So sayeth the honorables on Jones Street:

[…] The bill has been championed by Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and Republican lawmakers.

It would require the UNC Board of Governors to establish a Committee on Free Expression to report annually on university barriers to free speech and how it maintains “a posture of administrative and institutional neutrality with regard to political or social issues.”


Skeptical legislators expressed concern about implications of the neutrality clause, wondering if, for example, it would bar scientists from talking about climate change.

Rep. Verla Insko, a Democrat from Orange County, voted against the bill in committee. “My main objection is it’s regulating free speech,” she said. “We don’t really have any ongoing problems at the university. Problems come up and they get solved.”

No on-going problems, eh?  Insko represents UNC-Chapel Hill, where mobs of leftists show up to shout you down and / or shut you down if you rub them the wrong way.  (They even did it to the UNC Board of Governors.)

I am not a big fan of establishing another layer of bureaucracy.  Look at how little difference GOP control in Raleigh has made to the UNC system, thus far.  MORE:

[…] The idea that a university committee would monitor and manage guidelines on free speech is worrisome, Insko said, especially given the bill’s connection to a conservative think tank. “It does not come from a neutral research institution,” she said. “It comes from a group that has an extreme agenda.”

Republican Rep. Jonathan Jordan of Ashe and Watauga counties, a sponsor of the bill, said “it’s not ideological, it’s about doing the right thing.”

“Speakers, whether they be Ann Coulter or pro-Palestinian groups, are having their events permanently disrupted or canceled because certain student groups or individuals disagree with their beliefs,” he said.

Jordan quoted an Appalachian State University faculty statement on free speech that said, in part, “(I)t is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome.”

He also pointed to a statement last year by ASU’s chancellor Sheri Everts, after student confrontations over pro-Donald Trump chalk drawings on campus that some said were racially charged. Everts said: “It is important to note that free speech is encouraged on our campus, but not all speech that may be considered protected under state or federal laws is consistent with the university’s values and mission.”

“That,” Jordan said, “is the reason for the requirement for this bill.”

Jordan is unfortunately right.  It’s amazing what they can get away with by claiming something is “[…in]consistent with the university’s values and mission.”  (I can’t tell you how many times my associates and I heard similar language when we were undergrads.) 

I went to college in the late 80s and early 90s.  It was the end of the Reagan era, and there were still some elements of the Reagan-inspired counter-revolution lurking around on campuses.

The “Ted Kennedy Swim Team” was alive and well — ready to crash any public appearance by the now-late US senator from Massachusetts.  (Guys dressed in full scuba gear would parade into the room, along with a rather zombified, wet-girl covered in seaweed — symbolizing Mary Jo Kopechne, of course.)   Rumor has it that crew was the big reason Kennedy cut down on his public speeches — which were little more than rambling slander-fests targeting conservatives. 

At George Washington University, my alma mater, Young Americans for Freedom organized a Rockettes-style kick-line of convicts (dressed in Monopoly-style striped convict outfits) to greet recently-arrested DC mayor Marion Barry during one of his visits to campus.

We’d regularly invite speakers like the late Bob Dornan and Bill Dannemeyer, then-Republican congressmen from California, to speak on campus.  The hard left, and especially the gay rights crowd, really really really hated those guys.  (Dannemeyer and Dornan were not “bi-partisan.”)  The leftists would produce a chanting mob to surround the room where the speech was taking place.  One of Dannemeyer’s speeches ended with him having to be escorted by police through a mob of howling, cursing, handcuff-slinging gay activists.  The left did their best to intimidate average students away from events like this — where they could hear something different from what the administration and faculty were pounding into their heads daily.  

Some pledges in my fraternity hosted a radio show on the college’s station that regularly tested the patience of the university’s PC-police.  The “morning zoo” style wake-up show featured bits like “Black Jeopardy”, a game show called “Spank The White Girl,” (featuring willing participation by pledges from various sororities on campus) and, um, “news” reports by a roving field correspondent (and actual, frequently drunk and / or stoned homeless guy)  called “Disco Floyd.”

I was an undergrad during The First Gulf War (the invasion of Kuwait).  The administration made a big point of setting up space for students to rally and show off their feelings about the war.  Well, the administration (and the drive by media) were floored by how many — the overwhelming majority, in fact — students showed up to voice support for the troops.  (They had apparently envisioned Vietnam, the sequel.) 

I’ve long held respect for one of my professors during that time.  He knew of me by reputation as a right-wing troublemaker and was aware of my day job on The Hill with Senator Helms.  He made a point of telling the class he was a proud socialist, but welcomed debate in his class.  I took him up on his challenge, keeping it “civil” like John Hood, and debated him in class every chance I got.  (I ended up getting an ‘A’ in the class.)

Unfortunately, guys like that are few and far between on college campuses.  At the very least, this bill will raise awareness of — and call attention to — the ongoing effort to stomp out the expression of the conservative POV on-campus.  Now that this has made it through Jones Street, somebody needs to wake up all of those slumbering donors on the boards of trustees  and governors and get them to work on ensuring everybody’s First Amendment rights are being protected.