4. University of Oregon

Two incidents help the University of Oregon make FIRE”s list:

UO’s BRT [Bias Response Team], which responds to student complaints about offensive (yet protected) speech, found itself embroiled in public controversy last spring and then tried to hide its records from public scrutiny. Criticism arose when the BRT’s annual reports surfaced, revealing that the BRT had intervened with the student newspaper because of a complaint that it “gave less press coverage to trans students and students of color.” In another instance, UO dispatched a case manager to dictate “community standards and expectations to” students who had the audacity to express “anger about oppression.”

And the other:

Last fall, a law school professor found herself in hot water after hosting a private Halloween party at her home, attended by students and professors, where she wore blackface as part of her costume. According to the professor, the costume was “intended to provoke a thoughtful discussion on racism” by invoking Damon Tweedy’s memoir, Black Man in a White Coat.

The costume did, in fact, spark discussion—much of it criticizing the professor’s judgment. That’s the proper response to offensive speech: more speech. Yet the fact that students and faculty discussed the costume was a factor UO cited in deciding it had reason to override her First Amendment right to freedom of speech and punish her. UO’s move puts the cart before the horse and risks justifying punishment whenever expression motivates rigorous debate on campus.

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About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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