There is a new disturbing video that seems to reaffirm the growing intolerance for free speech on (or in this case near) our campuses. In the confrontation between a preacher named Joshua and University of Texas at Austin police, the preacher was told that, even though he was not on campus, he was still guilty of “offending someone” with this speech and would be given a citation.
At the outset, it is important to note that the officer, while shockingly misinformed about the protections afforded free speech, was polite and professional throughout the encounter. However, he repeats that it is against the law to offend people. In this case, the intent from Campus Ministry USA was off campus and speaking against STDs and homosexual sex. During the exchange, the following is said:
Intern: Um, does freedom of speech protect offensive speech?
Officer: Does freedom of speech do what?
Intern: Uh, protect offensive speech?
Officer: It doesn’t matter, freedom of speech. Someone was offended, that’s against the law. I- I don’t wanna argue with you—it’s against the law….
Intern: I’m sorry, can you say that again, it’s against the law to offend somebody?
That is clearly wrong but it captures the growing mentality of speech suppression on and near our campuses. This officer does not appear hostile or eager for a confrontation. However, it is a equally unnerving to see how matter-of-factly he describes the unlawful act of offending people through free speech. It is a position that the university should be the first to denounce, but the crackdown on free speech that we are witnessing across the country is being led by universities.
Here is the video: