Texas Preacher Given Citation For “Offending People” For Speaking Off Campus at the University of Texas

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 6.25.33 PMThere 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?

Officer: Yes.

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:

31 thoughts on “Texas Preacher Given Citation For “Offending People” For Speaking Off Campus at the University of Texas”

  1. Ah, that worked for the first part. Now here’s the Lewin comment:

    “The First Amendment protects the use of profanity in a public place. The state typically tries to prosecute people who use profanity by charging them with disorderly conduct in violation of Chapter 272 section 53 of the General Laws. In the case of Commonwealth vs. A Juvenile, 368 Mass. 580 (1975), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that profanity laced speech is protected by the First Amendment. In that case an unhappy customer in a department store began yelling at the saleswoman using such phrases as “f…ing a…ole” and “f…ing pig”. The loud swearing attracted the attention of a crowd. The customer was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. The court ruled that the speech alone was protected speech and ordered the case dismissed. Generally speaking only “fighting words” are not protected. Fighting words are words which by their very utterance tend to cause infliction of injury or tend to excite an immediate breach of the peace. So, I do not think the kids broke the law by swearing.”

  2. 1. A cop, who is “shockingly misinformed” about freedom of speech? I’d be willing to bet most cops are misinformed with that regard! Rather than the term “shockingly,” “normally” should have been used!
    2. How not to agree with Olly: ‘“At the outset, it is important to note that the officer, while shockingly misinformed…was polite and professional throughout the encounter.’ WTF!?
    No it isn’t. Violating someone’s 1st amendment rights is always IMPOLITE and UNPROFESSIONAL…oh, and UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”
    3. That Texas penal code is amazingly vague, as noted by another person! What precise words are outlawed? Never is there mention of precise words. Cops serve power. They always have. They do not serve individual citizens, unless the latter are connected to the power structure. Their ploy to arrest innocent citizens is always “disorderly conduct,” another vague term. Massachusetts Attorney Robert Lewin gets it right:

  3. Sue the cop. For impersonating a constitutional lawyer and practicing law without a license.

  4. As in many cases in this arena, the statute might be found to be unconstitutionally vague in its application. Clearly, the interpretation by the officer was misplaced as a result of his vague understanding.

    To William J Holly, I like the analysis and the conclusion. My tact is to ask either “What’s in it for me?”, or “Who does that work on? You can almost see the wheels start to turn in their head as they consider the question, and that is when I walk away.

  5. “At the outset, it is important to note that the officer, while shockingly misinformed…was polite and professional throughout the encounter.”


    No it isn’t. Violating someone’s 1st amendment rights is always IMPOLITE and UNPROFESSIONAL…oh, and UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

  6. Everything Republicans say is highly offensive to Dems and vice versa. Lock them all up.

  7. I think that some of us are just naturally, perhaps incurably, offensive. We don’t mean to offend, but some of us have what I call “typewriter’s turrets.” When someone says something that strikes us as false or absurd, we BLURT. In fact, the philosopher John Wisdom once remarked that he couldn’t say anything philosophical until somebody else said something stupid.

    Many of us offensive ones are so incurably offensive that when someone tries to shut us up, or to strong-arm us into being less offensive, we only become more shrill and offensive. Sometime Colleges mandate “sensitivity training” in a futile attempt to cure us of our social defect. But anyone who has had to suffer through a sensitivity training knows that the effect is the OPPOSITE of what the trainers desire.

    I believe that offensiveness is incurable, perhaps even genetic. So I propose that, instead of trying to make people more sensitive, let us provide mental health services for those with such thin skins that they want laws to protect them from being offended. Instead of trying to make everyone more sensitive, why not require all overly sensitive people to take DESENSITIZATION training? If they cannot be desensitized enough that they can stand having their ideas or values challenged, well then, not everyone was meant for college.

    Another observation: Have you noticed how often it is that Philosophy Professors are the ones getting fired for speech violations and being offensive? College officials need to be educated on this matter. Most philosophy professors were born critical, raised critical, and then got Ph.D.’s in it. While many people (especially college administrators) are offended by any criticism, philosophers are not just critical by nature and by training — criticizing people and ideas is their JOB. They are supposed to be our gadflies.

    Or, if this doesn’t work, just think of philosophy professors as Village Idiots. Don’t be offended, and don’t pick a fight with them. Just laugh and walk away.

  8. RE: Texas Penal Code. If I had been there, it would have been offensive. I can’t stand do-gooders of any kind, but especially faux religious sharia type.

    The officer cannot be “offended”. I know from personal experience long ago. I was arrested at an anti Vietnam war (American war against Vietnam) rally at the the old Oleo Strut in Killian, Texas for saying “F*** The Army” with the clinched fist, followed by several hundred GI’s shouting the same and saluting back in turn. I “offended” the cop. Well, at least one of the snipers on nearby rooftops didn’t shoot me, they would today. That charge was thrown out of court, the judged ruled the officer in the line of work cannot be offended by speech.

  9. Yet another in a seemingly endless stream of tragedies; someone got offended. Let’s round up all those precious delicate little flowers and give them a choice; 24 hours behind bars, a fine, group therapy. or community service.

  10. Here is the Texas statute likely cited:




    Sec. 42.01. DISORDERLY CONDUCT. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly:

    (1) uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;

    (2) makes an offensive gesture or display in a public place, and the gesture or display tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;

    (4) abuses or threatens a person in a public place in an obviously offensive manner;

    Unless the accused was inciting an immediate breach of the peace (in another person) this case is going nowhere.

    This also is the type of incident that later germinates case law unfavorable to the state.

  11. It’s up to the recipient of the citation to challenge it on First Amendment grounds. I hope he does.

  12. A police officer is not being professional when is mistaking the law. He should know hat currently it is NOT. A crime to “offend” somebody.

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