Muzzling Professors

In Arizona, a state Senate committee approved a bill that would make the First Amendment null and void at that state’s universities. In the name of promoting tolerance and diversity of thought on campus, committee has decided to ban professors from doing the following:

*Endorsing, supporting or opposing any candidate for local, state or national office.
*Endorsing, supporting or opposing any pending legislation, regulation or rule under consideration by local, state or federal agencies.
*Endorsing, supporting or opposing any litigation in any court.
*Advocating “one side of a social, political, or cultural issue that is a matter of partisan controversy.”
*Hindering military recruiting on campus or endorsing the activities of those who do.

Under the legislation, the Arizona Board of Regents, which governs the state’s public universities, and the individual boards of community colleges would be responsible for setting guidelines for the law and for requiring all faculty members to participate in three hours of training annually on their responsibilities under the law.

Punishments could come in two forms. The governing boards’ guidelines would need to develop procedures, including suspensions and terminations in some cases, according to the bill. In addition, the state attorney general and county prosecutors could sue violators, and state courts could impose fines of up to $500. The legislation would bar colleges or their insurance policies from paying the fines — money would need to be paid directly by the professors found guilty.

In other words, if a professor dares to have a political thought, let alone express it, they could be sued and fined $500.

In Orwellian logic, the bill sponsor, Republican state Senator Thayor Verschoor had this:

“In our institutions of higher education, students should be learning how to think, not what to think.

In other words, Senator Verschoor only wants students to be taught what he wants you to think, not have your mind challenged by different thoughts and opinions.

Fortunately, student leaders and professors have come out against this bill. In addition, the man behind the Academic Bill of Rights, David Horowitz, has come out against it.

The First Amendment should not be the casualty of the outrageous actions of the Ward Churchills of our university campuses.

h/t QandO.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
  • Chris

    Hold on a second here…

    Ok, if these restrictions apply in the classroom of a state university, then fine I have no problem with it.

    If those restrictions are general however, that’s another story entirely. That’s unlawful restraint of a persons freedom of conscience, and their freedom of association.

    The source article has no detail on this proposal, and I can’t find the text online yet.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Why shouldn’t the First Amendment apply in the classroom as well ?

  • Brad Warbiany


    I would assume that the argument is that since the government is employing these people, that as their employer they should be allowed to set the terms of employment.

    In my mind, government doesn’t operate by the normal rules of competition. I.e. government can largely out-compete private institutions by relying on coercive taxation, and thus we should hold government “enterprises” to a different standard when it comes to free speech/discrimination than we might hold a private institution.

    However, even if the argument that the state, as employer, should set these rules, I still disagree with the rules, and would oppose them politically. But therein lies the problem with putting these sorts of rules up to democratic processes. I, for example, think that we should be fostering open debate on our college campuses, where many of the people who lambast universities for being left-wing indoctrination centers want them to be little more than advanced job-training facilities.

  • Chris

    No, there should defnitely NOT be any political issue advocacy in a publicly fundided institutions classrooms under any circumstances.

    Most especially, no student should ever feel that they need to agree with a professors politics to get a good grade; or to deny their own politics to avoid recieving a bad one; and I know personally of dozens, and anecdotally of hundreds of students who have had jsut that problem.

    The classroom is no place for ideology, it is a place for fact and critical thinking.

    Now, if a private institution wishes to include ideology in their teaching, so be it, the student has made the market driven choice to pay for such ideological isntruction. Public universities on the other hand are largely paid for by the public; and thus should be entirely ideologically neutral.

    No, a rofessor should not be forced to preach against their own politics; but neither should they be allowed to preach for them; IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES AS A PROFESSOR.

    In any other circumstance, they can preach whatever they like…

  • Jason

    I go to a very liberal university, and most of my political science professors are basically socialist in their political views, and don’t show any restraint in letting the students know about. I am personally sick of not being able to express my opinions or values in class for fear of being ridiculed and insulted. However, I think this bill goes a little too far to prevent this.

  • VRB

    Speak up!

  • jwberrie

    Jason, maybe you get ridiculed and insulted in class because your opinions are laughable. Did any of your professors tell you they were socialists? If not, you might ask them if they are or not. Don’t you think the term socialist is subject to a variety of interpretations? Or perhaps you reserve the term for those who ridicule you in class.

  • Adam Selene

    Socialist is not hard to define objectively jwberrie. Of course, most “progressives” prefer to pretend the term doesn’t apply to them because socialism is a very discredited idea.

  • jwberrie

    Many so-called conservatives think that any laws regulating the ownership of private property is socialism. Most people would not go nearly that far.

  • Adam Selene

    no one on this site is a conservative, nor do we even claim to be conservative. If you think we are, or claim to be, you are mistaken.

    By the way, regulating my private property when I am not harming anyone else is not necessarily socialist, but it definitely is authoritarian. Most so-called conservatives today are authoritarians.

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