“Are they going to say, well, you can’t have a conservative speaker in this venue because we’re worried about how many people will show up, and we don’t know if we can social-distance them?”
This is bad news because free speech on campus was already an ongoing issue before the pandemic.
The College Fix reports:
Campus officials may use COVID-19 as cover for restricting free speech, activists say
Colleges might use the coronavirus pandemic to excuse censorship against conservatives when students return to college campuses in the fall, citing disease prevention guidelines, free speech activists said Tuesday.
“We’re going to have a whole new realm of administrative restrictions and regulations that we’re going to have to contend with,” Spencer Brown, spokesperson for the Young America’s Foundation, said on an online discussion panel organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom.
University administrators often cited security concerns regarding protests when attempting to restrict a campus lecture by a speaker such as Ben Shapiro, Brown said. But now, administrators can just cite warnings from public health officials.
“Are they going to say, well, you can’t have a conservative speaker in this venue because we’re worried about how many people will show up, and we don’t know if we can social-distance them?” he said. “How are we going to be able to say this is a reasonable restriction or this is a viewpoint-based discriminatory action?”
Colleges had been all too eager to restrict campus free speech even before the coronavirus outbreak, often hiding behind policies and codes to justify restricting the speech of students, said Young Americans for Liberty President Cliff Maloney.
He predicted that universities “will use any type of excuse to push back, whether it’s to coddle, or whether it’s because of a partisan opinion.” If the campus is “a level playing field, and all ideas can be heard, I actually think the free market of ideas leads people to our side, to believing the government is not the answer to all of our problems,” Maloney added.
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