Author’s Note: I would like to thank the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy for sponsoring my next speech, which this Thursday, December 3rd. The speech will take place in the Talley Student Center Grand Ball Room at N.C. State University in Raleigh, NC. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be free and open to the public.
It’s hard to believe it has been over four years since I spoke at N.C. State. That night, back in August of 2005, I gave a speech calling for a conservative revolution on our college campuses. I suggested many things that could be done to launch such a revolution. My criticism of the UNC administration was very harsh. But my criticism of conservative apathy was harsher. So, before I return to N.C. State this week, it would make sense for me to dedicate a column giving an account of what we’ve been up to on the front lines of this campus revolution.
The first shot in the revolution was fired by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh, North Carolina. They teamed up with the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to do an important study during the fall of 2005. The study focused on illegal speech codes in the UNC system. We all know these speech codes are used to censor conservative speech (and not The Vagina Monologues) because such speech is “offensive” and causes “discomfort.” Personally, I think the phrase “spread the wealth” is offensive. It causes me discomfort but (since I’m not a campus liberal) I won’t try to ban it.
After the Pope/FIRE study was published, I published my own veiled threat of litigation against the UNC-Wilmington speech code. A few weeks later, I called one of the lawyers working for the FIRE to let them know I would be actively seeking a plaintiff for a federal lawsuit aimed at overturning that policy.
While we were still on the phone, the FIRE attorney logged on to the UNC-Wilmington website and discovered they had already changed the speech code. In other words, the mere threat of litigation combined with the Pope/FIRE study had produced a victory. The speech code had been used to intimidate students, faculty, and staff for years. Now, we were turning the tables and intimidating the intimidators.