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Free Speech Groups Warn University of Nebraska-Lincoln Not to Adopt Hate Speech Policy

Free Speech Groups Warn University of Nebraska-Lincoln Not to Adopt Hate Speech Policy

“It is not unusual for FIRE to offer its perspective on issues of this nature. We appreciate the group’s comments.”

Speech policies can often boomerang on schools. Why even go down this road?

The Omaha World-Herald reports:

Two groups caution UNL against broad bias, hate-speech restrictions

Two free speech groups, one national and the other in Nebraska, have warned the University of Nebraska-Lincoln against adopting broad anti-bias policies that could impede free expression.

The warning addresses the longstanding conflict between free speech rights and words that some find abhorrent. Free speech advocates argue that the speech that people find offensive generally is protected by the First Amendment.

Speech that is rightfully prohibited on campus must involve genuine threats or be so severe and pervasive as to hinder one’s ability to function or study, a representative of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said Tuesday.

UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green made it clear in the summer that he wanted campus race relations examined and improved in light of national protests over the treatment of Black people by law enforcement and others.

Among other things, Green said in July that UNL leaders must be held accountable for enforcing anti-racist strategies and should examine how the climate impedes individuals’ campus experiences.

In a Dec. 7 letter to Green, the Philadelphia-based FIRE wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court “has repeatedly made clear that speech cannot be restricted merely because some or even many find it to be hateful or offensive.”

UNL responded Tuesday with a two-sentence statement: “It is not unusual for FIRE to offer its perspective on issues of this nature. We appreciate the group’s comments.”

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