While students in North Carolina may want to consider attending ECSU, they would do well to avoid The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). Among other things, UNCG has an Orwellian policy that outlaws “disrespect for persons.” Surely, Lucien Capone, the university attorney for UNCG, is aware that banning “disrespect” at a public university poses First Amendment problems. Nonetheless, administrators at UNCG act like “untouchables” with little fear of violating federal laws with which they disagree.
A good example of the lawlessness and arrogance of UNCG officials can be gleaned from their response to a recent protest led by students Allison Jaynes and Robert Sinnott. The protest was a peaceful, quiet, outdoor gathering of about 40 people. Located just outside the UNCG library, they didn’t cause any kind of disruption.
One could say that it was precisely the kind of protest that the framers of the First Amendment had in mind when they protected “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” One could also say that it was the kind of protest our brave soldiers fought to defend in the First and Second World Wars and even now in the War in Iraq.
When the UNCG protestors held up signs saying “UNCG Hates Free Speech” they were protesting a “free speech zone” policy that any seventeen-year-old taking high school civics would recognize as unconstitutional. Of the 200 acres on the UNCG campus, only two small areas are designated as “free speech zones” – areas designed to accommodate the expressive activities of 15,000 students.
What happened after the protest was predictable. UNCG issued “citations for disrespect” to the students which, in effect, sent the following message: UNCG students are not allowed to freely speak if they are going to say that UNCG hates free speech.
Few homeless illiterates could ever come up with such an absurd statement. Indeed, it takes a PhD to devise such logic. And such indifference to principle requires profound arrogance that could only be attained at a postmodern American university.
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