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Despite Testimony, Colleges Do Punish Speech - See GWU

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GWU Acted Over Display of a Religious Symbol, Saying the Word "Jew," and More

WASHINGTON - eTradeWire -- Despite the testimony under oath by their presidents that universities cannot discipline students and student groups for advocating the death and even the genocide of Jewish people because it's protected as "free speech," universities routinely do exactly that for speech which is far less (if at all) objectionable, reports public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who cites a number of what he calls "outrageous" examples for clear violations of free speech at his own university.

Although George Washington University [GWU] - like Harvard, MIT, and Penn whose presidents testified - is a private university, and therefore is not constrained in any way by the First Amendment and its First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, it nevertheless:
■ Suspended and almost expelled a student for very briefly displaying a religious symbol, and warned of similar consequences if other students dared to display it.

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■ Began a formal investigation by a campus investigatory body - of the type which have been held unconstitutional - of a law student for simply saying the single word "Jew" in private.
■ Threatened the lives of students who put up posters criticizing human rights violations by the Chinese communist government which were well documented.
■ Ordered a student to stop displaying a Palestinian flag when other students complained, although many other students flew other flags and pennants.
■ Required a tenured professor to respond to a complaint that he was "rude' when he asked a non-GWU trespasser to leave an illegally-entered private non-GWU building.
■ Threatened, on the eve of their graduation, to expel several students for publishing a satire of a dean in an April Fool's Day issue of the campus newspaper.

Similarly the non-profit Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression [FIRE] recently named Harvard as the most egregious university violator of free speech; "it the notorious distinction of being the only school ranked this year with an "Abysmal" speech climate," it concluded.

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More recently a well-known online disinformation researcher accused Harvard University, in a formal legal complaint to the U.S. Department of Education and the Massachusetts attorney general's office, of pushing her out and shutting down her work to shield the school's relationship with Facebook owner Meta.

In short, testimony under oath by presidents of universities that they cannot shut down and/or discipline students who publicly advocate the death and even the genocide of Jewish people because of free speech concerns seems to be misleading at best, and possibly even perjury, in light of what Harvard, GWU, and other major universities have done in the very recent past, says Banzhaf.

http://banzhaf.net/   jbanzhaf3ATgmail.com   @profbanzhaf

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Source: Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf
Filed Under: Education

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