We completely agree with Kurtz, Manley, and Butcher (KMB) that campus free speech is a critical issue. Viewpoints, mostly conservative ones, are being silenced on campus by pressure and regulation. Even the progressives like Nikki Usher recognize that:
[M]any of my progressive students are using the assignment to tweet deeply emotional, bitingly sarcastic, or sharply critical comments about the Trump administration and the Republican Party more generally.
We do not agree with KMB that additional legislation is necessary. We are, however, deeply envious of what appear to be a rare set of Chuck Taylor All-Stars (Chuckies) worn by the young man in picture.
Sidebar: We collect Chuckies and have never seen such a pair. We have leather and wool pairs but nothing like that. There is no star. Was it removed? End Sidebar.
Our opposition to KMB’s proposal is making it a legal solution. A good analogy is the what was referred to as the Equal Rights Amendment. Conservatives fought it for a variety of reasons but they mostly boiled down to (a) it was not necessary and (b) the outcomes were uncertain. We think those reasons are valid to the KMB proposal. The First Amendment is still there despite its detractors. The outcome of passing the KMB proposal is uncertain. A better solution is more speech rather that legal solution. The problems are that there is a demand for action and that more speech will take time. We see the risk but think the principle wins in this case.
We are strongly supportive of FIRE’s efforts to enforce the First Amendment but we see adding more legislation as the wrong solution. We have seen what happens when the state or the university tries to right every wrong with legal or quasi-legal solutions. It isn’t pretty. Nikki and other folks suggest free speech is making progress. It will be be long and slow but better if we do it this way.