Reason: Trump Vows That an Executive Order on Campus Free Speech Is Coming ‘Very Soon’

I am sympathetic with the writer’s conclusion: “The education system must do more to uphold the First Amendment, and to encourage students to cherish the principles of a free society. But a top-down, unilateral imposition on colleges and universities does not strike me as the best idea.”

But I don’t share it.

8 thoughts on “Reason: Trump Vows That an Executive Order on Campus Free Speech Is Coming ‘Very Soon’

  1. Yes, Executive Orders can be abused. Be careful what you wish for when you seek to expand presidential powers because some future president may use the same tactic for things you don’t like.

    But no, this is not something to be feared categorically. A weak or timid executive is to be disdained just as much, and for the same reasons.

    Instead, I have in mind that schools should not be on the dole for taxpayer money to begin with, but since they are, it is legitimate to coerce their behavior as a condition of support.

    We should be shy about the exercise of raw political power only to the extent that we ourselves feel powerless to influence it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another completely phony crisis. We have plenty of real crises but Trump and the GOP ignore those in favor of this sort of pandering.

    Universities have always defended free speech. That is why they have frequently been on the cutting edge of political, cultural and social change. A few minor and isolated incidents between students or disputes over the use of university venues is not significant. The only meaningful exception to this support for free speech is often found at religion-based “universities” where unsanctioned speech is not only not allowed but is severely punished.

    So,”conservatives”, be careful what you wish for.

    And by the way, exercising your free speech on a campus or anywhere else does not make you immune to ridicule, or to disapprobation or to professional consequences.


    1. RE: “A few minor and isolated incidents between students or disputes over the use of university venues is not significant.”

      That’s your judgement, but not mine. Notably, you offer nothing to support it.

      In my view the violence and property damage we’ve seen on campuses is more than sufficient to justify the witholding of federal funds. The only questions are the extent of and the methods by which due process will apply in making witholding decisions. That part hasn’t been answered yet.


      1. We have thousands of universities and colleges in the US. I have read or heard about a relative handful of examples of students shutting down conservative speakers.

        Egregious though they may be, these are hardly indicative of a major crisis in free speech.

        As a matter of fact, the one in Berkley was an assault by a non-student upon another non-student.
        The law of assault and battery applies. It would be pretty hard to predict the punch. Arresting and charging after the crime was committed is really all a university can do.


      2. What needs supporting? The instances of actually abusive anti-free speech behavior get a lot of publicity on Fox news but they are, in fact, the exception rather than the rule. And even more rare is when the actual leaders of a university do it.

        I doubt we will ever see such an executive order but if we do it will be a joke. Apparently the plan is to take away federal research money if a University fails to protect free speech. What does that even mean? What speech must they protect? And how? Must a university provide venues for NAMBLA? How about for Nazis? Must they ban fraternities that fail to accept “conservatives?” Etc., etc. ad infinitum.

        This is just another example of what a simpleton Trump is and/or his belief that his base is composed of simpletons.


        1. _RE: “Egregious though they may be, these are hardly indicative of a major crisis in free speech.”

          Why do you characterized it as a “major crisis”? I certainly make no such claim or base any reasoning upon such a claim. If only one person is harmed as the result of infringement of free speech on a federally-funded campus, that is enough in my view for federal authority to respond to the incident. How the federal authrity responds is a whole other set of questions, which you seem more inclined to argue about than the issues I have raised.


  3. The executive order will never fly. Big Pharma is not about to stand by and lose all that taxpayer funded research. It eats into their profits and marketing money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Big Pharma will enforce the executive order.

      If they see the universities biases as a threat to research funding they will explain the importance of free speech to the universities which are as dependent on them as on Federal funding, thus putting a price tag on academic bigotry.


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