CSU’s Free Speech Trauma Program: University Posts 17 Different Resources to Help Students Deal With Opposing Views

We have previously discussed how universities have not only curtailed free speech but treated free speech as a threat to students. Nothing captures that trend as vividly as a sign (posted on the site Campus Reform) informing Colorado State University (CSU) students that there are 17 different departments or resources to help them if they are “affected by a free speech event.” Free speech is now treated like STDs and violence on campus with its own trauma-related or protective program. Despite the inherent message of the harmful effects of free speech, I still prefer such a program to a policy of speech censorship or curtailment. However, some of the “resources” appear to be ways to report “incidents of bias” and offenses for university action.

The sign reads, “If you (or someone you know) are affected by a free speech event on campus, here are some resources.”

Those resources include the Dean of Students, Office of Equal Opportunity, Multicultural Counseling, Incidents of Bias Reporting, the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Vice President of Inclusive Excellence, and a Victim’s Assistance Hotline.

It is perfectly reasonable for a university to post signs encouraging students to report incidents of racism or threats. However, the listing of resources to address the trauma from free speech events reinforces the view that free speech itself is a threat on campus.

We previously discussed the concern over the rising generation of censors on our student governments and journals. We recently discussed how Emory’s student body refused to recognize a free speech group because of “potential and real harm” that would come from free speech events. A CNN host called for censorship as a form of “hard reduction.”

The alleged harm (and need for action) seems to differ dramatically on the ideological position of the speaker. I have defended faculty who have made similarly disturbing comments “detonating white people,” denouncing policecalling for Republicans to suffer,  strangling police officerscelebrating the death of conservativescalling for the killing of Trump supporters, supporting the murder of conservative protesters and other outrageous statements. I also defended the free speech rights of University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis, who defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence.

Even when faculty engage in hateful acts on campus, however, there is a notable difference in how universities respond depending on the viewpoint. At the University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.  In the meantime, academics and deans have said that there is no free speech protection for offensive or “disingenuous” speech.  CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,”  Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech. (Bilek later cancelled herself and resigned after she made a single analogy to acting like a “slaveholder” as a self-criticism for failing to achieve equity and reparations for black faculty and students). We also previously discussed the case of Fresno State University Public Health Professor Dr. Gregory Thatcher who recruited students to destroy pro-life messages written on the sidewalks and wrongly told the pro-life students that they had no free speech rights in the matter.

The CSU sign reaffirms the view of free speech as potentially harmful as well as the necessity of close monitoring and reporting on its use on campus. It is treated like a dangerous controlled substance. There was a time when universities relished the range of diversity in viewpoints as essential to a true intellectual community. Now we seem to be raising a speech-phobic generation that includes free speech trauma programs.

46 thoughts on “CSU’s Free Speech Trauma Program: University Posts 17 Different Resources to Help Students Deal With Opposing Views”

  1. “[T]here are 17 different departments or resources to help them if they are ‘affected by a free speech event.’”

    They are raising a culture of neurotics.

  2. Yes, millions of Americans have been affected – or more accurately, inspired – by free speech incidents. A few of them come instantly to mind.

    How about the thousands of Canadian truckers, supported by even more thousands of their fellow citizens, with the courage to speak out against Justin Trudeau’s forced vaccination program. Or the comedian Gabriel Iglesias (aka Fluffy) with his skit “How to tell the Latinos Apart,” which unites Americans of different colors and races through humor. Or attending that recent sporting event surrounded by thousands of Americans spontaneously erupting in chants of “Let’s Go, Brandon” to express their displeasure with the flailing, imploding failure that is the Biden regime. Joe Rogan on Spotify. Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi on Substack. Marty Makary and Robert Malone speaking out against the Covid orthodoxy.

    Yes, free speech incidents have the power to affect all of us. The power to fight back against last gasps of depressing, dead-end progressive ideologues who cling to power by dividing us. To provide an inspiring future for Americans of all stripes.

    Epstein just shared a few of Epstein’s inspiring free speech incidents. There are millions more, to be told by millions of Americans, who have been inspired in different ways. The power of the American people lies in the courage to tell these stories. To each other. On this blog. As we go about our daily lives. Or to the apparatchiks like those at Colorado State. They gave us their phone numbers and websites, and asked us to tell them. They just might learn a thing or two about the American people, the power of ideas, and the oncoming tsunami of change.

    1. Exactly. I hope every Moderate and conservative student on campus calls, emails & texts each of the listed resources every single time they encounter harmful speech while on Campus. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

  3. Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows. A brain that finds speech threatening, is a brain with no natural defense against it.

    1. Should perjury be legal, since “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows”?

      Should defamation be legal, since “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows”?

      Should knowingly and falsely yelling “fire!” in a theater be legal, since “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows”?

      Should child abuse in the form of verbal emotional abusebe legal, since “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows”?

      Should it be legal for a doctor to knowingly lie to a patient about an unsafe treatment, since “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows”?

      Or is it possible that some speech is more harmful than you wish to acknowledge?

      1. With the exception of an unarmed brain of a child to defend itself, all the other examples are offset by the mature brain making better speech.

        So you’ve proven only that the average, child-like brain isn’t developed enough to defend itself on a college campus. It’s also why the franchise is limited to only those reaching the age of 18. As these “adolescent” brains are proving, 18 should not be the only measure of capacity.

      2. “Perjury” is intentionally lying while under oath or affirmation to “..tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…,” and has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment and its protection of free speech.

        Defamation, which included libel and slander, is not a crime, but a civil action for injury to a third party’s reputation. A civil cause of action does not make the underlying gravamen of the complaint, i.e., the defamatory words, criminal in nature. The law on defamation does not make defamatory speech unlawful.

        Even a book about to be published that contains libelous statements in it about someone, will not be restrained from publishing by a court. The remedy by the person libeled is to bring a civil suit against the writer for libel.

        “Should knowingly and falsely yelling “fire!” in a theater be legal, since “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows”?

        The whole “fire in a theater be legal…” is a another red herring. First, it’s important to note U.S. v. Schenck had nothing to do with fires or theaters or false statements. Instead, the Court was deciding whether Charles Schenck, the Secretary of the Socialist Party of America, could be convicted under the Espionage Act for writing and distributing a pamphlet that expressed his opposition to the draft during World War I.

        But those who quote Holmes might want to actually read the case where the phrase originated before using it as their main defense. He was explaining that the First Amendment is not absolute. It is what lawyers call dictum, a justice’s ancillary opinion that doesn’t directly involve the facts of the case and has no binding authority.

        The actual ruling, that the pamphlet posed a “clear and present danger” to a nation at war, landed Schenk in prison and continued to haunt the court for years to come.

        In 1969, the Supreme Court’s decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio effectively overturned Schenck and any authority the case still carried. There, the Court held that inflammatory speech–and even speech advocating violence by members of the Ku Klux Klan–is protected under the First Amendment, unless the speech “is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action”

        Thus, the “speech” or words used by the speaker, must be “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action” AND “is likely to incite or produce such action.”

        Your use of dictum from Holmes in Schenck is misplaced, misleading, and inaccurate.

        “Should child abuse in the form of verbal emotional abusebe legal, since “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows”?”

        Your statement about “verbal emotional abusebe (sic) legal…” is vague and a straw-man argument . Without more facts, is a meaningless argument. Demeaning words, such as “You’re stupid,” or “worthless,” or “I wish you would fall off a cliff,” or “I hate you,” etc., are not forms of abuse from a legal standpoint.

        But if there is a threat of immediate and credible harm (all questions of fact for the trier of fact) e.g., “I am going to kill you if you don’t clean this up,” may, depending on additional facts, e.g., made while holding a baseball bat, or a knife, or closed fist, qualify as verbal abuse and the person who made the threat can be charged with domestic violence, and would not protected speech.

        “Should it be legal for a doctor to knowingly lie to a patient about an unsafe treatment, since “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows”?

        “Lying,” even by a doctor, is not a crime. Lying under oath is. It maybe a violation of the doctors rules of professional conduct, which would be dealt with by his or her professional medical association, And it may be actionable by civil litigation as malpractice, but would not be chargeable as a crime.

        Or is it possible that some speech is more harmful than you wish to acknowledge?

        “Harmful” in what way? Your feelings are hurt? You feel diminished in some manner? The words make you upset? The words make you nervous? You don’t feel ‘safe?’ You feel words equate to physical violence? The words used broke your bones, physically punctured your body or physically injured you?

        BS! Words are words. They cause no physical harm. Your complaint is they may cause you or others emotional harm. If words cause you emotional harm, then you need to grow up and become an adult. No one is required to listen to speech they don’t like. What you want to do is to prevent the speaker from speaking the words so no one can listen to them.

        In June 2017, the Supreme Court affirmed in a unanimous decision on Matal v. Tam that the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act violates the First Amendment’s free speech clause. The issue was about government prohibiting the registration of trademarks that are “racially disparaging”. Justice Samuel Alito wrote:

        “Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate”. United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U. S. 644, 655 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting).”

        Justice Anthony Kennedy also wrote:

        “A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.”

        I stand behind free speech, whether I like what words are said or not. That’s the difference between living in a free society and believing in the Constitution and the 1st Amendment, or living in a totalitarian society where thoughts and words are controlled by the state.

        1. Maj, our blog host should capture your comment and make it readily available for anyone needing a lesson in how to debate.

          Great post!

        2. No offense, but your seem not to have understood my comment. I was not discussing the 1st Amendment. I was discussing Olly’s claim “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows.”

          I would have thought that obvious, given that I quoted it multiple times in my questions to Olly.

          Do you agree with his claim that “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows”? Or do you agree that we make some kinds of speech illegal because we recognize that they are harmful beyond what an individual “brain allows”?

        3. “Your complaint is they may cause you or others emotional harm.”

          No, it isn’t.

          Again, I was countering Olly’s claim that “Speech is only as harmful as the brain allows”

          Perjury, for example, is illegal because it does broader societal harm. Laws against perjury are a counterexample to Olly’s claim.

          You seem to have wildly misinterpreted my response to Olly.

          1. “Perjury, for example, is illegal because it does broader societal harm.”

            No. It’s illegal because it harms an *individual’s* right to justice.

        4. Let’s be clear, the freedom of speech is absolute.

          Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.

          No inferior governmental level shall deny citizens their absolute and unalienable, constitutional freedom of speech.

          If an individual yells fire in a crowded theater, it is the duty and obligation of the members of the audience to determine the veracity of your statement.

          It is the duty and obligation of individuals to conduct the totality of their lives, including acts of self-protection and self-preservation.

          If an individual is damaged by the message or warning yelled, he may sue for damages.

          The American thesis is freedom and self-reliance.

          1st Amendment

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      3. Way to tell us that you’ve missed the whole pointl… 🥴

        HINT: You’ve listed speech that can be expected to cause provable, substantial, measurable harm or damage…Most reasonable people would agree that such harm or damage outweighs a speaker’s right to publish the offending speech (ie share publicly).

        Being offended & getting your feelings butt-hurt does not at all rise to a meaningful enough level of harm such that everyone else should be silenced because…”you’re upset”…or you may be, …or you were, …on any given day, …depending on what you ate, …or thought, …or felt, …or cared about, …or wore!

        In other words, your feelings are your problem,…and they aren’t at all as important, reliable, or measurable as the very real harm to others underlying your examples, eg: destroying someones reputation & livelihood; causing people to be trampled to death; lying to a jury so that a murderer goes free; neglecting to inform a concerto-level pianist that there’s high risk they’ll never play again if surgery is performed; or repeatedly screaming at a defenseless child that they’re useless, unloved & you wish they’d never been born!

  4. Liberalism has become the gateway drug to communism and anarchism. Hayek was right (Friedrich, not Selma–she’s something else altogether).

    I don’t repudiate all the values of liberalism, but here’s what chafes me the most: liberals have always been more than tolerant of leftwing extremists. Ronald Reagen never would have been a cheerleader for Hitler, but Ted Kennedy was a shameless apologist for the Soviet Union. ​I don’t see conservatives embracing the Klan or the skinheads or the alt right the way the left has sucked up to BLM, CRT, and Antifa.

    And the false approximation of Trump–or any other mainstream conservative–with Hitler is just blatant gaslighting that seeks to short circuit the brain of any Democrat who might actually listen to what conservatives have to say.

    There are a few honest liberals who are willing to challenge the radicals, but the majority of the Democrat party seems to be going hard left with gusto. Now even free speech is under fire.

    Before, I felt socialism didn’t necessarily lead to communism. I now see with my own eyes Hayek was right.

  5. If I were an Employer, would I not be allowed to exclude applicants for employment if they had graduated from college/university. Or more specifically, if they had graduated from any of the colleges/universities on a list of schools?
    Certainly, Colorado State Univ. would be on that list, and a whole host of others. Just sayin’ — college ain’t what it used to be!

  6. It is often assumed that after being coddled in college, students will get a rude awakening when they get into the “real” world. Big mistake. These students, faculty and administrators are creating the “real” world, and Big Tech is helping them. This is extremely dangerous because what we’re seeing at these universities isn’t something these brain-dead students will leave there — rather, they’ll infect the rest of society with these toxic ideas, and within 5-10 years, “free speech” will be dealt with by the US equivalent of the Gulag. Think of these universities as the testing ground for the Democratic-Socialist experiment.

  7. The sign is fine but scrap all the unnecessary locations for resources. It should read:

    “Dear students If you or anyone you know is affected by free speech please see the registrar for your one way, no return ticket to Cuba or Venezuela. There’s no charge, Good Luck Comrade Student”.

  8. How on earth have we ended up with a generation who believes themselves traumatized by speech? Jordan Peterson thinks it may be the result of helicopter parenting, a situation that has arisen from 2 to 5 year olds not being permitted to form their own identities. That sounds about right to me. And if these kids can’t bear free speech now, how are they going to ever get through adulthood and what should be the ordinary responsibilities of work and parenthood and citizen?

    1. Mary Ann,

      Do you deny that speech can be harmful?

      Do you oppose defamation laws?
      Do you oppose laws against perjury?
      Do you oppose child abuse laws that address verbal abuse?
      Do you think that Union Station should have left the Swastikas up on their walls?

      Just what is wrong with a university providing support to students in dealing with the potential harms from others’ speech? This is part of their learning.

  9. Being called “traitor”, “racist”, or “an outsider who doesn’t belong” is also harmful speech. So is being told that you should be: treated differently because of your skin color; turned away at the college gates bc of your politics; or refused medical care at the hospital/deserve to die because you didn’t (or couldn’t) get a vaccine.

    I hope students at this school inundate the listed “resources” every single time they encounter harmful speech, including: anytime they may be called something hurtful like “stupid”, “selfish”, or “short”; or even anytime they may so much as hear a Professor call them “unprepared”, a love interest say “Im not interested”, a Coach yell at them, a classmate interrupt them, or a barber just say that they look like they need a trim.

  10. My father, a veteran of severe combat in Northern France, Paris, Hurtgen Forest, Battle of the Bulge and then the Pusan perimeter in Korea gave me great advice about harmful speech. He had only a high school education but went from private in 2/1941 to Lt. Col. In 6/1961 when he retired. His advice was “Deal with it, they are just hurting your feelings and you’ll get over it”. “There is far worse that people can do to you”. While not legal advice from some Hallowed Hall it was what I needed. Maybe Colorado State should place signs around the campus saying “Deal With It”. I would also suggest “Grow Up”.

  11. There is a very easy solution for CSU to protect both freedom of speech and the students that are too emotionally fragile to be part of that environment: Online Learning for the latter group.

    This silencing of speech would be like preventing our early pioneers from western expansion: Because some people weren’t up to the challenge, then no one should’ve been permitted to try.

    If these children are too scared to venture onto a college campus, then they should attend online until they are ready.

      1. That solution, for the average complaint, is only more productive in increasing the numbers of neurotic college students.

  12. Free speech IS potentially harmful.

    If you don’t believe that, why do you have Darren delete many comments?
    Will this comment be deleted?

    1. Way to tell us that you haven’t actually read the 1st Amendment. – – – If helpful, maybe just focus on the first 2 words: “Congress shall”.

      1. Work on your reading comprehension.

        I didn’t suggest that it’s illegal. Of course it’s legal for him to remove comments.

        Now think. WHY does he do it and WHAT does that imply about his argument in the column?

        1. I wouldn’t know. Unlike you, I’m not in the habit of pretending to know people’s intentions & inner-most thoughts. Based on the evidence of many diverse views provided throughout the Comments here however, I’d say your presuming to nonetheless do just that is a bad habit you should perhaps quit! HINT: Sometimes, it really does have nothing to do with race, gender, sexual preference, political leanings, etc. Sometimes, it is just you.

    2. This blog occasionally deletes comments for no reason at all. Based on the number of comments you write, one would expect a deletion every once in a while. That so many of your comments appear tells us that your freedom of speech on this blog is preserved.

  13. Professor Turley: It is perfectly reasonable for a university to post signs encouraging students to report incidents of racism or threats.

    Epstein: It is not reasonable to encourage students to report incidents of racism. Like elastic definitions of hate speech and terrorism, experience has proven that the system has been abused to force conformity with radical progressive political ideology. Society already has a system for reporting violence and threats of violence. It’s called the police department. Years of experience shows that this system works a lot better than sending an email to the university diversity coordinator. And, unfortunately, acts of actual violence are once again becoming far too common.

  14. We all benefit from Free Speech….and we hould take every opportunity to remind these young heads filled with mush of that fact.

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