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Posted at 1:37 PM ET, 10/16/2009

Preserving Free Speech on Campus

By Stephen Stromberg

By Will Creeley
New York

Thank you for opposing state Sen. Andrew P. Harris's ill-considered crusade to intimidate Maryland's public colleges and universities into censorship ["Rated XXX," editorial, Oct 12]. By bullying Maryland schools into drafting policies to regulate the display of pornography on campus, Mr. Harris and his fellow legislators have chosen to score cheap political points at the expense of the First Amendment.

It is difficult to imagine a draft policy establishing anything other than an unconstitutional system of prior review, with nervous professors and student groups forced to submit materials for administrative approval before screening them. A "chilling effect" on speech would result, with some faculty and students choosing to self-censor rather than risk rejection.

The public college campus has been deemed by the Supreme Court to be "peculiarly the marketplace of ideas" -- even those ideas that provoke strong reaction, such as the screening of "Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge" and the accompanying Planned Parenthood presentation that have prompted the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland to draft a policy "on the use of public higher education facilities for the displaying or screening of obscene films and materials."

Sen. Harris's effort to restrict campus dialogue betrays this ideal and teaches Maryland's students precisely the wrong lesson about free expression.

The writer is director of legal and public advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

By Stephen Stromberg  | October 16, 2009; 1:37 PM ET
Tags:  censorship  
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Agreed. Not only does it violate the 1st Amendment, you are trying to push your will on adults. College students are that: adults. This isn't a high school, these are of age individuals that are capable of making their own choices.

How ludicrous!

Posted by: jromaniello | October 20, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree more. Censorship on college campuses has become a matter of great concern, especially as it relates to the censorship of conservative speakers on campuses such as David Horowitz. One would hope that those who support this writer's defense of the first amendment would also support the first amendment rights of those which whom he may disagree such as Mr. Horowitz.

Posted by: conversefive | October 21, 2009 3:24 AM | Report abuse

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