Free speech is a growing topic of conversation on university campuses across the country, with a growing number of students claiming that their right to free speech has been violated because their school decides not to allow certain speakers on campus. With the likes of Breitbart News technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos creating national followings off of being banned from speaking from schools (and from Twitter), it should be of no surprise that some of that mindset would trickle its way here to sunny Fort Collins, Colorado.
Last week, on-campus pro-life organization Students for Life filed a federal lawsuit against Colorado State University because the university chose not to provide funds for a pro-life speaker to visit campus. The speaker would have been Josh Brahm, president of the Equal Rights Institute, an organization which provides online courses and real-life training to pro-life activists who want to know how to persuade others that being pro-choice is philosophically wrong, and that being pro-life is a declaration of body rights.
The thing that Students for Life does not realize is, just like every other right we have, free speech is not granted by CSU and cannot be taken away by CSU. It is a right guaranteed by the Constitution and the U.S. Government that you will not be imprisoned or otherwise persecuted for speaking against the government or for expressing your own ideas about society. Free speech is not a right to demand that public-funded universities provide funding for controversial speaking trainers, whose words would only matter to a very select few organizations and like-minded individuals.
In their suit, Students for Life makes many wild, unverified, overblown claims.
The group claims that the marketplace of ideas on the CSU campus has been violated because funds allocated through the university’s Diversity Grant give “unbridled discretion” to the fund allocation committee to “favor the speech of popular groups and to exclude the speech of unpopular ones.”
Despite the apparent destruction of this marketplace, they are still allowed to sell pro-life ideas and organize as an official campus political group. Their hypothetical stall in the marketplace of ideas hasn’t been torn down, and they can still share their platform without Josh Brahm coming to tell them how to do it better. They are not the only group to have been denied a speaker on the CSU campus:
The group claims that “it is impossible to find a speaker who is entirely unbiased and to create an event where everyone will necessarily feel affirmed.”
Despite this, they chose to file a lawsuit against CSU after inviting a speaker who would have never enticed pro-choice students or faculty to his event. The goal of the Equal Rights Institute is to educate already pro-life activists and citizens into being able to convince others that bring pro-life is right, and that being pro-choice is ethically and morally wrong.
Students for Life claims that CSU has violated their constitutional rights and caused “irreparable injury” to the group by forcing members to pay activity fees to the university.
Most importantly though, and with no sound basis, the group accuses CSU of allocating activity funds based on its own viewpoints, with “no criteria or standards.”
Despite this, in 2015, CSU allowed Ryan T. Anderson, who believes in conversion therapy for homosexuals and was an advocate for a traditional definition of marriage, to speak on campus.
In 2011, climate change denier Fred Singer, who called the media “brainwashed” and said fear about climate change is a “psychosis”, was allowed to speak on campus.
Students for Life, your right to free speech is not being ripped from your arms.
On-campus organizations seem to not know the difference between guaranteeing free speech and thought for everybody, and demanding a bigger microphone for yourself to turn others to your view.