tv Hearing Focuses on Free Speech on College Campuses CSPAN June 25, 2017 1:49am-3:47am EDT
consideration with him. andas only when compassion ambition coincided, when he is in the senate, he realizes that if he wants to be president he has to pass a civil rights bill. know if heu do not is feeling false. not at all. all of his life, he had wanted to help poor people of color. >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. speech, a look at free and first amendment rights on college campuses. the senate judiciary hearing included testimonies from professors and students. it talks about the role colleges have in protecting students from violence. this is just two hours. classroom setting. this is just under two hours.
[gavel pound] >> welcome everybody. good morning. today our judiciary committee considers an important and timely topic. the first amendment on college campuses. senator feinstein and i will give opening statements and we will also have opening statements from the chairman and ranking member of the constitution subcommittee that senator collins and senator senatoror cruz and leventhal. higher education rests on the free flow of ideas. education requires that positions be held tentatively tested by opposing arguments that are actually considered and evaluated.
all must protect free speech. public institutions must adhere to the various guarantees over -- of our first amendment. too often all the these fundamental principles have been under assault. even worse some people who exercise their first amendment have themselves than assaulted. as a result those who would curtail free speech have been emboldened and those who disagree with the prevailing orthodoxy have been censored or chilled from speaking freely. there is no point in having a student body on campus if competing ideas are not exchanged and analyzed and respected by each other.
at kellogg community college administrators required prior th. their lawsuit against the college and against its administrators in their personal capacity is pending. many students erroneously think that speech that they consider hateful is violent. yet some students engage in acts of violence and speech and universities have failed adequately punish that violence. on the university of california-berkeley, too invited speakers were prevented from speaking due to mob violence and other projected safety concerns that the university failed to control. that university should be reminded of a passage of one
of supreme court's most important first amendment rulings. "if there is any fake star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official can prescribe what shall be orthodox politics." a lawsuit has been brought that alleges that berg way systemically and intentionally suppressed speech protected by the first amendment because it's different from that of university administrator said at middleburg's college sam and it scholar mr. charles murray was first shouted down from speaking and then when the event was moved students pulled the fire alarm to prevent him from speaking.
it was not dr. murray but the students who essentially falsely yell fire in a crowded theater. the middle very professor who administered, who moderated the debate was physically assaulted and has yet to fully recover from her serious injuries. it was not a mere handful of students but a mop who engaged in such appalling conduct at an institution theoretically devoted to rationality. not including those who were not captured on video the college discipline more than 70 students but none was expelled or even suspended.
as a practical matter no one received any more punishment than the double secret punishment as a penalty that is dr. moran noted such week punishment will not deter any future students. the first amendment is very clear. the supreme court has decided that free speech is protected, that speech cannot be restricted based on viewpoint, the public forums must be places where free-speech rights can be exercised and restraint on speech is our highly disfavored. otherwise any speech that anyone found offensive could be suppressed. little free speech would survive as justice holmes said quote if there is any principle of the constitution that calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate end of freedom for the thought that we hate."
and on many campuses today free speech appears to be sacrificed at the altar of political correctness. many administrators believe that students should be shielded from hate speech, whatever that is as an exception to the first amendment. unfortunately this censorship is no different from many other examples in history when speech that authorities seem to be the radical has been suppressed based upon its content. even more unfortunate the anti-constitutional attitude that is so pervasive that students are being socialized and possibly indoctrinated into favoring censorship at odds with our first amendment. restrict the use of slurs and
other language intentionally offensive to certain groups and by a 72-27 margin they favor restricting restriction of political views that are upsetting or offensive to certain groups. college students vote, not only academia but our democracy depends on the ability to advocate to inform or to change minds. when university suppressed speech they not only damage freedom today, they establish important norms harmful to democracy going forward. these restrictions may cause and exacerbate the political polarization that is so widely lamented in our society. whatever the nature of the speech being suppressed we all
ought to be concerned and i am. however, prominent liberal universities lament that they vast amount of free speeches on the conservative side of the spectrum. a recent commencement address that i will put in the record the lack of conservative ideas on campuses and as former stanford provost has observed quote there is a growing intolerance at universities, apolitical one-sided thus that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for end of quote and he fears that university administrators will take the easy route of giving in to students pressure to restrict debate and i ask consent to include his excellent remarks in the record as well. he fears -- his fears are being realized. in a recent interview the president of northwestern university undercuts the apparent lip service that he paid to the first amendment
rather than making students confront this page that makes him uncomfortable he advocated making students feel comfortable by ensuring a safe space where they will not hear it. even worse, when asked whether he would be comfortable where the speaker were shouted down in middlebury to speak at northwestern he replied that he would permit their appearances quote unquote on a case-by-case basis. the first amendment does not permit arbitrary restraint on speech by university administrator's on a case-by-case basis. that is an open invitation to discriminate based on viewpoint. that is where too many colleges
are right now. a reality great universities would welcome numerous speakers whose positions made the president of the university and many others uncomfortable on-campus uncomfortable. some may advocate legislation theoretically private colleges that accept federal funds subject to individual private lawsuits when free-speech rights occur or don't occur including religious free speech. if those are all violated some even suggest an analog section section 1933. under that approach officials at private universities that accept federal funds would be subject to an individual right of action for damages if they violate free speech or fail to train university officials and campus adopt the first
amendment. ortunately not all schools adopt the censorship approach. the university of chicago has adopted a policy that some of the universities have followed which i will put in the record that this policy prohibits university from suppressing speech that even most people on campus would find offensive or immoral and calls for counter speech rather than suppression of people who disagree with speech and while protecting protest expressly prohibits quote otherwise interfering the freedom of others to express views that they were jacked. finally it commits the university to protect that freedom on others attempt to restricted end of quote. we have a distinguished panel of guests that i welcome. senator feinstein. sen. feinstein: thank you very much mr. chairman. i'm going to put my remarks in the record and i'm just going to make a few reflections on some of your comments.
i agree with some of what you said. i disagree with others. let's take a look at the first amendment. the first amendment says that congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of the right of people peaceably, peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress. grievances. the fact of the matter is there are certain occasions on which individuals assemble not to act peaceably but to act as destructively as they possibly can and i know a little bit about the university of california. you cited berkeley. the president of that university is known to all of us. she was the governor.
she headed a 250,000 staff homeland security department here. she is tough, she is strong, she is fair, she is able and the question comes that when you have a set group of people that come to create a disturbance and some of them even wearing and -- even wearing masks and wearing certain clothing, what do you do? big university police departments, it's been my experience don't always have the equipment meaning mental and training equipment to be able to seek it out, to handle it into a -- and to isolate it. isolated.
so you run the risk of substantial harm and that was what judgment the university made in the one situation recently that it would become a drawing card for groups that range from anarchists to just very unsavory people to be violent. that is really a horse of another color. i was mayor during a democratic convention in 1984 and i can tell you with a lot of fear at that time about what might happen at that convention, so we took -- made a lot of plans to be able to handle it and got extra help and we did handle it and there was no violence and it was a good convention. maybe universities should be steeped in and have the ability financially to really develop the kind of intelligence you need and the kind of policing that you need at some of these events.
i mean i went to a smaller private university. there was never a problem but you have big universities and one of the largest is the university of california which have turned campuses with over 250,000 students. so there are instances of problems from time to time but i think our efforts would be much better, finding methodologies to handle those incidents. i know of no effort at berkeley, the university of california to stifle student speech, none and if there is a specific effort i would certainly appreciate it if people brought that to my attention.
but i do believe that the university has a right to protect its students from demonstrations once they become acts of violence. i hope today that there will be some discussion of when does speech become violent and what do you do to stop that violence because we all want freedom of speech. i don't want anything different than you wanted that regard but maybe i live in a different world having been there a tumultuous time, having gone through assassinations and understanding what happens in a big dissent. so do know my state isn't your state that the volume here can be very large so i just wanted to make those comments and say that it's not a simple matter when demonstrations become violent.
>> senator cruz. cruz: mr. chairman thank you for holding this very important hearing. free speech matters. diversity matters. diversity of peoples backgrounds but also diversity of thought, diversity of ideas. universities are meant to be a challenging environment for young people to encounter ideas they have never seen, they never imagined at the they might passionately disagree with. if universities become homogenizing institutions that are focused on inculcating and indoctrinating rather than challenging we will lose what makes universities great. the first amendment is not about opinions you agree with.
it is not about opinions that are right and reasonable. the first amendment is about opinions that you passionately disagree with and the right of others to express them. it's tragic what is happening at so many american universities where college administrators and faculty have become complicit in functioning essentially a speech police deciding what speech is permissible and what speech is not. you see violent protests. the senior senator from california referred to it and acting effectively are violent thugs come in and say this particular speaker i disagree with here she has to say and therefore i will threaten physical violence if the speeches are allowed to happen
in far too many colleges and universities quietly roll over and say ok the threat of violence we will effectively reward the violent criminals and muzzle the first amendment. i saw a recent study from the knight foundation is said that a majority of college students believe the climate on the campus has prevented people from saying what they believe out of fear of giving offense. what an indictment of our university system. and what does it say about what you think about your own ideas? if ideas are strong and if ideas are right you don't need to opposition. you should welcome the opposition. when you see college faculty and administrators being complicit or active players in silencing those with opposing views, what they're saying is they are
afraid. they are afraid of their ideas cannot ban the dialectic, cannot stand opposition, cannot stand facts or reasoning or anything on the other side. it is only through force and power that their ideas can be accepted. i am one who agrees with john stuart mill the best solution for bad ideas, for bad speech is more speech and better ideas other people with not just ideas in the world? absolutely but not these grotesque and repulsive than evil and our constitution they have a right to speak and the rest of us have a moral obligation to denounce what they say. a bunch of racist bigoted bugs thugs who have a vews andexpress their we have an obligation to
confront those views with need to usen't silence themo thruth is far more powerful so this is an important hearing and i think the witnesses for being here and i think the chairman. >> senator coons chairman of the committee on constitution center blumenthal the ranking member i'll go to senator blumenthal now. >> thank you to the witnesses for being here today on this very important topic. we would do well to remember that this issue is hardly new to democracy and in particular a democracy. during the height of the beginning of the vietnam controversy when his car literally was pounded on and he was physically threatened by protesters. the vietnam protest movement
like others often lend itself to successes threatening at the time and then as a reporter had the privilege of covering this convention in chicago in 1968 not in the convention hall but in the streets where teargas and physical confrontation were more common than rational discourse. differences of opinion can lead to disagreements which in turn can lead to and what we celebrate always on this conflict,d to whichal conflict, establishes lines that many of us conduct where people have to wait a minute rather than -- a respect for each other's opinions and that brings me to the main point that i want to
make which is respect for the rule of law is really so fundamental to this conversation and disrespect for the rule of law we have seen all too often outside the universities as well as in. universityies are not isolated enclaves that are in some ways aberrant. kinds of confrontations that we have seen on universities reflect the fighting words often used by politicians and others in our society that may be designed to promote violence and we should be mindful of our own duties to be respectful of the law and to make sure that we particularly respect the first amendment which says that
across this country. the state attorney general prosecutor and out of the began a speech or hate crimes i should say, and respect for speech that could be preserved and ascribing to the balance is one area that i think we need to take lessons from the experience you bring to us today while we talk about the respect for the rule of law i want to take this opportunity to thank you and the ranking member for beginning our investigation exemplified by the finance director and related actions and i hope that we will pursue that political interference
promptly and rigorously and comprehensively because i think again any kind of interference obstruction of justice or related criminal activity or civil interference in the rule of law bears close scrutiny by this. we have the duty and i am very thankful that you and the ranking member are proceeding along this course and i want to this.ly thank you for >> i will try to make this brief and to the point. there was a debate on the floor of the senate on the first amendment freedom of expression, freedom of speech. let me read what one of our colleagues said about the debate and the decision when it came to that free speech.
democrat, and he was awarded the medal of honor this objectionable is painful and unpatriotic. but i believe that americans gained their lives and have the right to express themselves even those that harbor hateful thoughts. in just a few words, the senator put his words right on what the debate is all about. we have to be prepared, if we believe in the constitution and bill of rights and freedom of expression as the senator from texas said earlier to stand back and put up with some hateful conduct, racist antisemitic comments, and all of i bring up isons
about the flagburning amendment that failed by one vote on the floor of the senate to ban desecration of the flag by burning to make an exception the first exception in the history to the bill of rights and freedom of speech. do i find it the burning of the american flag hateful, you bet i do and i bet everyone in this room agrees. but it's the same basic principle. are we prepared to defend the right as much as we hate it in the name of standing behind the constitutional principle? well, we missed by one vote of changing the constitution it was as painful as it gets in the judiciary committee but a reminder of what we pay when we stand behind the principle of free speech. thank you mr. chairman.
>> i'm going to introduce from my left and right. zachary wood, wall street journal and the class of 2018 scholar at williams college where he served as president of uncomfortable learning, a student group that sparked a national controversy for providing the speakers to campus, the secretary and ceo of stuff phi beta kappa society and served as president of brandeis university and he received his bachelor's degree from williams college and law degree from yale. a student at the university of cincinnati where he is also pursuing a masters of arts and political scienceinpolitical science and earned his bachelors of arts from ohio university and
he was the associate director of students defending the student organization that assists those that are accused of violating the code of conduct. vice president d.d.at the university in and who earned all of her degrees from the american university, m.a. in public administration, phd in sociology. and if i pronounce this wrong, please correct me. the distinguished professor ucla school of law where he is a noted academic expert. the professor obtained both his
b.s. in math, computer science, and j.d. from the ucla. richard cohen is an attorney and president of the southern law center. mr. cohen is a graduate of the university from virginia school of law. the senior counsel from the new york law firm and is leading first amendment litigator from cornell university and jd from yale. before you start to speak, i never gavel people down at five minutes but i hope when the light turns on you will sum up pretty quickly. we have two votes at 11 and it is going to be necessary to keep the committee meeting going so i hope people will take turns so we can keep the testimony and questions coming. by the way, your entire statement will be put in the record. your longer statement.
wood: thank you mr. chairman, ranking member and distinguished members of the committee. i am honored and privileged to have the opportunity to appear before you. i am a senior and resident at the college. over the last two years i've advocated for the importance of engaging controversial offensive views on college campuses. when i arrived at williams college to begin my freshman year i had high hopes that my intellectual experience would stimulate vigorous debate and encourage robust open discussion of controversial issues. i identify as a liberal democrats that separates many progressive causes yet i believe that students should be encouraged to engage with people and ideas that they vehemently disagree with. as president of uncomfortable
learning at williams, i strived to broaden the range of political discourse on campus by inviting speakers with challenging, provocative and out of the mainstream views on pressing issues of the times. i joined uncomfortable learning because i wanted to push my intellectual limits and confront controversy. i wanted to clarify the issues that challenge people the most and why. i've wanted to discuss the argument of content and how best to respond unwelcome ideas and defensive speech. humanity isn't limited to the values we admire it also encompasses the thoughts and actions that we resist. to gain a deeper understanding of humanity i made a concerted effort to understand as thoroughly as possible divisions and convictions of those arguments that i oppose. in doing so, i have faced considerable backlash from the student body.
the acrimonious response was jarring, yet i resolved to ignore the attacks pushing forward. i invited the author and commentator about the race and national identity. my announcement of the invitation angered many students and faculty on campus precisely because he previously made incendiary comments about african-americans african-americans. within 48 hours of the event for at williams, the administration
promotes social tolerance, often at the expense of political tolerance. in my time at williams, i cannot name a single conservative speaker that has been brought to campus by the administration. this fact is problematic precisely because the overwhelming majority of students at williams have liberal beliefs. this adds to what many commentators have referred to as the secretary for -- as the echoed chamber. in some cases, conservative students even feel the need to refrain from stating opinion in fear of being shut down. i appreciate the desire of my administration to ensure that all students on campus feel included, yet i deplore the state of free speech on my college campus. in our present moment, williams is just one of many colleges that has disinvited controversial speakers.
i colleges across the country, students face free speech codes, zones, and other infringements .n their first amendment rights instead of nurturing thoughtful debate on controversial topics, many college etiquette -- educators and administrators discourage free debate by shielding students from --viewve phase -- abuse s. yet one person's offensive view is another's point. it is an attack on liberalism. it is said the discussions that need to be taken place on college campuses is about racism . to be sure, those issues are critically important. the phenomenal problem is that all of these issues intersect and none of them can be resolved without an appreciation of free speech and intellectual freedom in higher education. for me free speech is not about grinding a partisan act.
it is not about promoting or advancing a particular set of ideological preferences. educationply about my and i value the freedom to interrogate all manner of contentious ideas and beliefs and hope of gaining a deeper understanding of the world and using that knowledge to one day make a positive difference. for me, free speech and intellectual freedom matters. because free speech and electoral freedom are among the founding principles that animate the vibrance and ensure the sustenance of the democracy. thank you, mr. chairman. chairman, mattr. and ranking member, distinguished members. may i start with the point of personal privilege and say as a williams college alumnus and former trustee i am proud to be sitting next to what my college is not producing. -- now producing. members, the challenge of free speech have never seem greater.
as a university president that these challenges come in all directions and from all contexts. the company left and right. they involve students, faculty, outside speakers, as mr. wood has just talked about. the coarsening of our public discourse and the lack of clarity about free expression it is perhaps no surprise this issue presents itself with urgency on our campuses, public and private, small liberal arts colleges and large research universities. at this moment it is particularly important that we recommit ourselves to first principles. this hearing is a welcome opportunity to begin. the ranking member pointedly talked of the context of large diversities and perhaps as the only person sitting in this room who has been a diversity president, i am grateful for somebody understanding the
complexity of the role. it is precisely at times that university president face, like these we are talking about that principles are essential. let me state three. freet free expression and inquiry are central to the mission of colleges and universities. limits of such expression, which should be all the way at the margins of expression, expensive activity, should turn on the intent of the actor, and not on some crude attempt on our part to distinguish speech from conduct. an intentthreaten and to intimidate is different from the intent to connecticut. third, -- communicate. third, there is a moral obligation in my view to respond to hateful speech, not to suppress it, but to respond, clearly, and forcefully. universities and colleges in this country have a mission, i
would say a sacred mission, to create and discover knowledge and transmit that knowledge through teaching. it should go without saying that robust free expression is central to that. as a result speakers are presumed to be permitted to speak and should expect to face questions and answers. students -- and to give answers. students and faculty are presumed to have their writing and speaking protected. is there a limit to this expression? over fromit cross protected expression, into something that would be prohibited? or in a campus context, into a context where sanctions would be appropriate? as i said i believe this turns on the intent of the actor. let me give a different example from williams. this is with a prior president. that prior president is now the president of northwestern university. he does seem to keep coming up in the discussion.
when i was a trustee at williams, there was an event in which a student had had, on her door, leader of the jewish student group at williams, posted a flyer that said she should evacuate her room immediately. this was meant as a fellow eviction notice to parity what has happened in israel with palestinian homes. the president of the college called me up and said, is there something we can do? i said, we need to know what is in the mind of the student? he said, how would we know that? i said, why don't we find out how those flyers were distributed? was it just put on one student's door in a threat? or, as was the case, put on the doors of every dorm room. attempt case, it was an to demonstrate a strongly held political view, offensive to some, disagreeable to many, but nonetheless one that should be protected. therefore the speech was protected.
no action should be taken for the conduct. what about speech that is protected that is hateful? here i go back to something that senator cruz said. i believe justice brandeis said it right, when he said the answer is not war's silence, but more speech. more speech is not really an option. it is an obligation. a university president has an obligation to speak out in the face of hateful speech, not to repress it, but to speak out. a wise president would be careful not to call first amendment balls and strikes on a daily basis. that oversteps the boundaries. picks his orent her moment to say, this kind of conduct, this kind of expression is not representative of the best values of his college, the values of this university, then that holds us to the highest levels of what our colleges are about. not merely to educate, but provide citizenry that is the
essence of engaged democracy. thank you. >> chairman grassley, ranking member feinstein him and distinct numbers them a thank you for the opportunity to share my story. i am a is isaac smith, rising third-year law student at the university of cincinnati. prior to attending uc for law school i studied political science and spanish at ohio university, where i was also involved with an organization called students defending students. we assisted students on campus accused of violating the school could of conduct, helping through the disciplinary process. every year to raise awareness about the organization and our work. we produced t-shirts with a funny slogan. in 2012 the t-shirts said "who are you going to call? our 2013 slogan was we get you
off for free, proved to be unexpectedly controversial. itt flew in the 70's, when was founded, it turns out that not fly in 2013. of the the shirts student involvement fair, a gathering of registered student organizations on the main campus green, where a freshman can learn about campus activities. scs was present to recruit new members. i posted a picture on our official twitter account with one of our members handing out flyers while wearing the shirt. a cap is administered or sell the tweets and later told us that we were not to wear these shirts again. she told us the shirts objective objective five women, and in a head scratcher promoted prostitution. that was worrying to us. as advisers about the student conduct process, we knew the student code of conduct inside and out. although the slogan was unquestionably protected by the first amendment, the campus policies were so broad we risked discipline for wearing the
shirt. of.ow that ou has a history punishing students for protecting speech i reached out to the foundation for individual rights and education, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that defends free speech on college campuses. with their help i sued ohio university to fix those sections of the code of conduct that would have allowed us to to beep -- -- punished and even expelled for wearing the shirts. after that lawsuit, change happened. after only a few months, ou settled the lawsuit sleepily -- favorably, changing the code of conduct to protect free expression and paying out $32,000 in damages. we were also allowed to wear the shirts again. it is unfortunate i had to take such serious action to fix it. sometimes that needs to be done. some administers are not going to pay attention to what it is -- what is legally right, unless they are forced to do so. experience, that was not
isolated. examples of campus censorship are plentiful. in one case, a former student at cal poly pull a moment -- cal poly pomona needed a free-speech badge to hand out literature promoting animal rights and a vegan diet in his school's free-speech zone. in another case, a former student at my current school, university of cincinnati, was threatened for arrest for trespassing for gathering signatures outside of the university free-speech zone. there have been multiple cases across the country where students have been prevented from distributing copies of the united states constitution in open, outdoor areas of their campuses because they were doing so outside of their school's misleadingly labeled free-speech zones. i would like to thank you, chairman, for bringing up an example of such a thing. this means that we know that administrators nationwide are
stifling free speech. i thank you again for the opportunity to testify here and share my story, and putting the spotlight on this national problem. >> chairman grassley, ranking members, thank you for the opportunity for being here today. the challenge for leaders on america's campuses today is to maintain balance when protecting important values that are often intentioned, especially in the context of our nations political climate and views of the first amendment among younger americans compared with the generations that have come before. freedom of expression is an important principle oncologist and universities, not just public universities, where first amendment rights must be protected, but also private institutions because our fundamental mission to create, share, and exchange ideas.
discovery is dependent on the basic tenants of academic freedom and free expression. important principle is the respect and dignity with which we expect all members of our community to demonstrate when exchanging ideas, particularly divergent ideas. civil discourse and dialogue representing diverse perspectives is integral to learning and scholarship. these printable are fundamental to educating citizens who will lead productive lives and contribute to a healthy democracy. campuses around the country, including american university, have seen a rise in episodes of deeply offensive. speech and discretion from racist statements and acts, to flagburning, these expressions come from within, our own students, faculty and staff, as well as from forces outside of the community. whether a visit from westboro mine -- myrch, or
this dissentst, and protest as manifestation of free expression, we have effectively managed numerous events deemed contrary. we are guided in this work by our freedom of expression and guidelines and by the american university faculty and resolution on freedom of expression. the resolution states, that hundreds -- for hundreds of years the pursuit of knowledge has been at the center of university life, on federal discourse, no matter how long -- how controversial, uncomfortable, or inconvenient, is a condition necessary to that pursuit. american university stands in this tradition. as an institution, we draw the line when expression that has the potential to incite violence, and/or is a direct threat to the embers of our community. -- members of our community.
the most recent episode is being investigated as a hate crime by the fbi. on the last day of classes this spring, racist expressions threatened physical violence to african american women who are members of alpha cap alpha incorporated, one of him was the first black woman elected as student government president in her first day of office. with the increasing frequency of such episodes, the ability of students to learn, and thrive, has been severely limited. when students fear for their safety, this affects their ability to study and participate fully in the life of the university. in short, maintaining a commitment to our values and balance among them is complicated and requires robust policies as well as constant education and training. american university has robust policies for protecting the most expression and dissent, as well as academic freedom.
we must also investigate, respond, and report crimes that are multiple -- motivated -- as required by federal law and local laws. laws treat biased factor, so toong does our core -- code of student conduct, modified by this year to consider motivation in sanctions for those found responsible in violation. if there is a take away from this testimony, it's that free-speech comes with responsibility and account ability. freedom of expression is integral to the mission of hired education. however, protecting it has become challenging in light of our national climate, changing attitudes of younger americans about the first amendment, and ever more diverse populations on the campuses, bringing diverse perspectives into constant tension. thank you.
>> yesterday the supreme court reaffirmed there is no hate speech expection -- exception to the first amendment and viewpoint determination is generally speaking for bitten -- for bitten, including not just criminal laws, but even exclusion from various trademark trademark -- programs the government ran, and the same applies to speech on college campuses. the government may not punish speech because of the viewpoint expresses.-- it quite well put this, a law that can be directed against speech found offensive can be turned against a minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all.
even seemingly very appealing restrictions on speech that as wrong andmned offensive, can very quickly turn into something -- suppression of dissent and historically often have. an me illustrate this with example from the testimony of dean lawrence. i testimony that i generally agreed with, including in its rejection of a proposed exception to hate speech. note what was offered -- by hateful speech i mean that which offends or insults a group on racial, ethnic, or sexual identity lines. i should stress the dean lawrence did not call for suppression of such these, but many do. that is not an uncommon definition. range ofs a vast speech, flagburning, which i entirely agree should be protected, that offends along national lines.
debates about religion will often offend groups among religious lines, as with speech perceived as blasphemous. debates about same-sex marriage, if you're going to have an honest abate it will indeed offend people. condemnations of white privilege and the like may offend people along racial lines, whether or not they are accurate and sound or not. the court has been quite right in rejecting any such exception. course -- there are of course times, as senator feinstein pointed out that the university is not trying to suppress speech because it finds it offensive, but because enough people who are willing to stoop to violence find it offensive, there is the threat of a violent reaction to such speech. i tend to agree with senator cruz's view, that kind of heckler's veto should not be allowed. the question was asked, when you
have a second the people who come to create a disturbance, what do you do? i think the answer is to make sure they do not create the disturbance and threaten them with punishment. meaningful punishment if they do create a disturbance. not to essentially let them have their way by suppressing the speech they are trying to suppress. one of the basics of psychology that i think we have learned, all of us are parents have learned it first hand, the hader that is rewarded is repeated. when thugs learn that all they need to do in order to suppress speech is to threaten violence, then there will be more such threats and more such threats from all over the political spectrum. the solution is to say that the speech will go on. if that means bringing in more law enforcement and again making sure that those people who do act violently or otherwise physically disruptively may be punished. in this i very much agree with what senator blumenthal said, respect for the rule of the law
is a fundamental principle of american life and that which diversity should be teaching. and one aspect of that is, if you violate the law, and by this i mean laws against vandalism, violence, physically shouting people down, in that case, you will be punished, rather than having your goals be achieved by having the speaker whom you are trying to suppress attacked -- in fact be suppressed by the university. it seems to me the courts has made it clear. ,he view of the committee likely the view of the congress is quite clear, speech has to be protected on universities, campuses, elsewhere, regardless of the viewpoint. be --peech should indeed lead to counter speech, criticism, whether by university officials or others. there is no and should the no exception for supposedly hateful she -- speech or speech of other viewpoints on university
campuses or elsewhere. thank you. >> thank you. it is an honor to appear before the committee this morning, particularly with my fellow panelist. i think we all agree on certain financial points, that is the first amendment is a paramount -- of paramount importance, particularly of places of higher education. in recent months, the commitment to the first amended has been tested as speakers from a newly energized white nationalist movement have been making their eye on college campuses. these speakers, particularly richard spencer have drawn protest, not simply from students, but from loosely organized violence prone outside groups of so-called anti-fascist . the presence of these anti-fascist group has led to an equal, yet opposite -- reaction. the formation of outside groups dedicated to fighting the anti-fascist.
as what happened at berkeley demonstrates, it is a combustible situation. richard spencer was scheduled to speak at auburn university, 50 miles from our office. spencer, as i'm sure the committee knows is a leading white nationalist figure who popularized the term "alt-whit". he gave a speech ending with "hail trump." the event catapulted him to national prominence. in his first college speech following the november rally, spencer stated "america belongs to white men. ." in advance of his scheduled appearance at auburn, we checked to ensure the university police knew about the problems that other universities had recently faced when controversial speakers came to town. we also suggested to the university at administers and to
the college club we sponsor at auburn they hold an alternative event to highlight their commitment to inclusion and to our nation's democratic values. we have no objection a course to peaceful protest. we suggest that students not give racist and audience. we certainly do not want students to do anything that allows speakers to -- racist speakers to betray themselves as first amendment martyrs. auburn initially issued a statement making it clear that it employed spencer's views, it was the right thing to do. the first amendment does not require universities to be neutral. as senator cruz said, it can and should take the position. auburn canceled the speech out of fear that spencer's presence would provoke violence. that was the wrong thing to do. the university was perfectly capable of providing security, as senator feinstein suggested, there may be some cases where that -- instances, where that is not the case. universities have to take steps to cancel a speech, as justice
jackson said, the constitution is not a suicide pact. that would be a rare instance. the case in court and handed richard spencer a victory in the process. an outcome that allows a man whose views are and him a call to our founding principles to parade around as a first amendment hero. given the climate in our country, i think we will see more violent confrontation on , asege campuses this fall mark sanford recently put it, the rhetoric surrounding the presidential campaign has unearthed some demons. election, we have documented nearly 200 instances of racist fires -- flyers being distributed on college campuses. we've also detected a surge of biased related episodes of violence in schools around the country. this sunday, richard spencer is scheduled to speak at a rally at the lincoln memorial.
something i find to be almost sacrilegious. he will be joined by the founder of one of being white nationalist groups that is recruiting on college campuses. their first amendment rights must be protected. we must not ignore the increase in white nationalist activity around the country and on the college campuses. we need to fight speech that threatens our nation's democratic values with speech that upholds them. it is an obligation at university -- that university officials have, and everyone in public life, starting with the president has as well. thank you. >> thank you, mr. cohen. >> thank you. grassley, ranking member feinstein, senator cruz, and other members -- i wanted to add another line from the supreme court's opinion yesterday.
in which the court by an 8-0 vote said the following -- speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend. that is the law. that is what the first amendment teaches us. that was the basis of yesterday's ruling. it has been the basis phrased differently through the years, but phrased consistently through the years. that has been the basis for the protection of first amendment rights. today isgs us here that time and again speech is being effectively banned on campuses because the speaker has ideas that offend. that is the problem. becausenot arise university administrations are
seeking to suppress beach. -- speech. it arises more often than not because students find it intolerable to have certain speakers appear and certain ideas expressed, with which they disagree, and which they find offensive, or even outrageous. so we have a record before this committee from the testimony of the people who preceded me and from what has occurred throughout america. of speakers being silenced when say say or are expected to unpopular or disagreeable things. ray kelly, the distinguished former police commissioner of new york shouted down at brown university. the mayor of jerusalem shouted down at san francisco state. i could go on with those examples.
there are situations of invitations being withdrawn for fear of offending students. christine lagarde, the first woman ever to head the international monetary fund, canceled for fear of student disapproval and the like. we have speakers who have withdrawn because it has been made clear to them they would be unable to proceed with their speeches. condoleezza rice, for example. ,e have a situation in which again and again, speakers have by saying on campuses that they could appear, but only a pair -- appear if they appeared on panels, and not spoke individually. problem. real ongoing it is not a new problem of this
month or even this year. it is something which has gotten significantly worse and more on,atening as time has gone and as other speakers have pointed out, as the polarity in our country has become more obvious. the polarity on campus has been the same. i have to say that i recall a time many years ago when i was in college, in which the real problem was there was no speech. generation, cool so-called. in which university administrations really came down hard. if anyone said anything, which seem to offend the administration. that is not our problem today. we have, i have to say it, a problem with students and supine
administrations. we have a problem in that too many people are unwilling to listen to ideas with which they disagree. which has onlyem a long-term solution. it is when i suggest to you that we should really start to address now. thank you. >> thank you. thank you to each of the witnesses for your important and powerful testimony. let me start with zach and isaac, i want to thank both of you for being your. i want to thank you for your courage in speaking out and risking prosecution and doing so -- in doing so. it is important and it is sick of it. -- significant. you may bothyou, have views that i agree with or disagree with on any given issue, but you have the courage of your convictions, and that is important. a i wanted tosk both of you,
when those of -- when those who disagree with either your views or speakers coming to campus succeeded in shutting them down, did that embolden the sensors? what did that do to the climate on the campus when people discovered's a heckler beta could succeed? mr. wood? williams it was in some sense a victory for those who did not want to hear opposing views. their perspective from the outset was that if we can shut this down, then we are doing something that is just and right. ted cruz: mr. smith? mike strand at ohio university was primarily of censorship coming from the administration. in my experience with students defending students, we actually have the administration on one occasion say that although the speech was protected by the first amendment, that a student was accused of violating the code of conduct is the code of
conduct rose above that and they punished in any way with the overbroad linkage of the code. i definitely agree they were emboldened to try to take out any viewpoints they found offensive. cruz: professor, i want to welcome you to this committee. you and i have been friends for 20 years. i will say to a my favorite memories were one, you and i and several others, the day after september 11, spending time together in an f -- interfaith prayer session with christians and jews praying for our nation. i will never forget that. nor will i forget a wonderful time in which you have heidi and me to your apartment for dinner. you bake cookies. you probably don't recall, but you pulled the cookies out of the oven and mumbled to yourself, to no one in particular, oh my, their constituent of integrity is somewhat compromised. at which point heidi said, who are these friends of yours? i said, no one earth but eugene
would utter such a sentence. it is great to welcome you back. thank you for being such a passionate champion of the first amendment. one of the things that you have written about is the impact of federal law and federal statutory law in pushing universities in the direction of censoring speech. i am wondering if you could perhaps elaborate on that a little bit for the committee. professor: thank you. those are two of my favorite memories. the cookies were a little gooey. i think that made them taste better. part of the problem happening on campuses is the office for civil rights, some years ago, i believe the department of education office of civil rights, but also support from the justice department took the view that actually federal law required colleges and universities to impose speech
codes to prevent supposedly hostile or offensive environments. they were defined in vague ways, but ways that pretty clearly covered speech that would allegedly create such environments by being offensive, based on sex, was the focus, but the same logic applies based on religion, race, and such. colleges have been trying to implement those kinds of codes for many years before. thoseere giving cover to who want to come and putting pressure on those who might not. i think that is a mistake. i think universities should try to prevent an atmosphere where frome feel threatened threats of violence, but also feel otherwise intimidated or marginalized based on various things, including politics.
universities have ample opportunity to do that by speaking out against the speech, often there will be lots of students groups participating in speaking out against this kind of offensive speech and telling students, you are welcome here. than taking advantage of this opportunity for counter speech, something that universities are uniquely positioned to do because they are in control, and they often have people willing to help out in that among the student body. argued that in fact speech codes are not just the proper solution, but necessary, i required solution. i think that is very much a mistake. fortunately federal courts have not taken that view, they have taken the opposite view. my recollection, in the early 2000, they actually said the first amendment is an important limit on campus speech codes. i think there was some walking
ago from that several years from further statements, especially a certain case by the ocr. i am hoping they will go back and reaffirmed the principle that while federal law prohibits universities from discriminating and requires them to protect students against violence and threats of violence, it offers no justification for speech restrictions. ted cruz: a final question, mr. abrams, you have been a lien on the first amendment. you are a man of the left. i think it is fair to say, i am not. spent decades defending free speech, even views you are disagree with. there are examples that are often pointed to, indeed it this hearing, whether or not seize or the kkk. one of the things we are seeing on university campuses, it is not just the extreme hate groups, it is rather just speakers, academics with views that are disagreed, that are
contrary to their reigning political orthodoxy on many campuses. whether it is an administrator setting in email about halloween urging talent -- tolerance, whether it is people arguing about same-sex marriage, whether scholar likeemic charles murray, making arguments that are controversial. whether it is a scholar like heather mcdonald speaking about , what is thers inue of the first amendment protecting the views of those with whom we disagree? what does it do to campuses when only one side of an issue is allowed to be at rest publicly -- expressed publicly? senator cruz, the first amendment is an anti-sensorial amendment. it exists primarily for the purpose of keeping the government away from certain very, very significant and
sensitive areas, religion, speech, press, assembly. it basic philosophy behind is that it is important that the broadest range of views be heard and the public be permitted to pass judgment. come to their own judgment. it is tempting. i get it, everyone understands, the temptation to say, this view or that view is so offensive, so outrageous that i am serving the public interest by shutting it up0 the firs. in first amendment puts us the opposite direction, it requires at least enough humility to accept the proposition that i am not the decision-maker. congress is not the decision-maker. the public, individually, and together make the decision about what to believe and what not to
believe. >> senator durbin? senator durbin: thank you. i have to leave and vote. i listened to and it seems like there is an amazing consensus, at least in the abstract. the problem is the application. should i be able to stop the speaker because i am offended? no. mr. lawrence, because i am intimidated? i think, yes. should i be able to stop someone from speaking because he is unpopular? no. because i find him menacing? yes. should i be able to stop someone who is -- makes me feel uncomfortable? no. should i be able to stop someone who i find threatening, menacing? intimidating? and where you draw the line? you have to put yourself in the position of the president of the university. you want to encourage the exchange of ideas, let's start
with that premise. you also have the responsibility for the safety of the students. and what might happen to those who attend? what the reaction might be. add another element, 10 states allow the carrying of guns on college campuses. doesn't this make this more complicated for the college president as to whether or not that speakers going to be allowed to come in and speak? let me ask you to address that, mr. cohen. mr. going: thank you -- >> thank you. it is a thorny issue. universities have an obligation i would say to take reasonable steps they could for c. if you are university cannot do anything and then when maybe threatening people show up you say, i will cancel this each, i have an obligation to make bona fide efforts to protect the speaker, protect the students. of course there could be
situations where at the 11th hour you got information that 50 plus busloads of armed anti-fascists were coming to campus, and you would have no choice but to cancel. i think that is a matter of common sense. we have to allow the university to exercise some judgment in a perilous situation like that. >> the real issue is, what is the role and exception? the rule has to be, we allow speech, we don't censor speech. we don't rule out speakers because of the possibility that there will be some sort of harmful impact because they speak. sure, if a lot of people come to the campus with guns or threatening, or the like, that is one situation. very, very rare. we are talking about -- >> 10 states with concealed carry law, it is like we are announcing we are bringing guns under the law they are allowed. >> they are.
that has been the decision of the legislatures and so far it is perfectly constitutional. that does not empower college presidents to shut down campuses. there has to be more than a credible threat. have we had a situation on campus in which as a result of a speech people who have come with guns have had -- committed felonies? i cannot think of one. >> thank god now. -- no. >> floyd has got it right, the presumption is in favor of speech. when you can you overcome that? you certainly have situations on campuses now where this becomes a concern. , most ofe been cases the time this information is not made public, where the university president, these are people who i have spoken with have been informed by their own campus security that we have
credible information from local law enforcement there could be people with weapons on campus. thepreciate the analogy to heckler's veto, but those cases come out of the 1960's and in southern jurisdictions wanted to oppress double right marches. the answer there is, they simply have to make sure there is enough of a police presence. you cannot tell a public safety office in the university you have to beef up. sometimes you do not have those resources. those of his heart -- kinds of judgments a president of the university is required to make. >> i have to go vote. >> i want to start with mr. wood. asking you to elaborate on the point that you made that students at williams, with minority political views feel silenced in the classroom. >> yes sir. at williams college am often times it is conservatives on campus who feel as though they cannot express their views. i've talked to a number of students individually who have told me that they feel as though, in certain classes that they were -- if they were to
express their political views, whether on affirmative action, welfare, or any number of critical issues that are often discussed, they feel as though they would be either strongly disliked or they would receive disapproval from their professors for some plea stating the police. -- for simply stating a their beliefs. >> also for your, your testimony that williams college adopted policies for inviting speakers that appeared to apply equally to all speakers, but that in practice made it harder for conservative speakers to come to campus and -- than liberals. i would like for you to elaborate. >> essentially uncomfortable learning was a student group at williams college originally. it was unaffiliated for a specific reason. the reason was that college
council, because the majority of the student body is liberal was not going to vote to approve uncomfortable learning. that also means that if we were to go to college council we would have to refund -- if he -- receive funding for speakers which would give them discretion on the speakers. what the president did after i invited john doerr pressure was he put several checkpoints in place. first i have to discuss with several deans why i selected particular -- select a particular speaker. on top of that you have to convey to them what the sources of funding are, and then you also have to register as a student group. this was a particular problem for uncomfortable learning , notse the student body just the student body, but the delivered body of the college, college council was liberal. we were worried the group would not pass and get approved, which means that we would not be allowed to bring speakers. if forced me to go through a number of hoops and hurdles to sort of be able to continue to
doing the work i was doing. >> mr. abrams and professor, the doctor testified we respected free speech american university quota draws the line when expression has the potential to .ncite violence of course american is private and the first amendment does not apply. is this statement consistent with a long-standing meaning of the first amendment? >> i don't think so. i don't think the potential to inspire violence comes close. to meeting the legal standard. that requires an intent, a likelihood of success, and eminence of violence occurring. there are speakers who by their nature are incendiary in what they say. it would be an egregious violation of the first amendment
and of first amendment values to bar them from speaking because there is a possibility of violence occurring. >> professor, do you want to add? >> i agree. referencerstood the to potentials saying violence is something of a short head -- shorthand for the test. which is that speech is unprotected only if it is intended or likely to produce imminent lawless conduct. there was a time when the supreme court accepted the near potential to produce bad conduct was enough. that was a so-called bad tendency test used around world war i and in some -- similar cases. i think this ties into senator durbin's point, actually in 40 states people can carry concealed guns legally in public
places where there often are speeches. in 50 states people can carry concealed guns illegally as well. there is certainly somebody who is willing to commit murder and they will not balk at restrictions. nonetheless, the mere possibility that somebody would draw a violent reaction, or even hope to produce a violent reaction cannot be enough to restrict each. i understand the doctor's statement is a sort of shorthand for the specific point. >> senator feinstein. senator feinstein: thank you. to ask mr. kelen, i am holding a copy of the may 1 2017 paper from the southern poverty law center. the title. -- of which is the battle for berkeley in the name of freedom
of speech, the radical right is circling the ivory tower to ensure a voice for the all right. -- alt-right. could you please describe for us the thrust of this paper and any comments you would care to make? >> thank you, senator feinstein. particular asd in protests have escalated them is so has the presence of groups that really have violence on their minds. anti-fascisthe descend on berkeley. in response to them, we have had groups such as the oath keepers, law enforcement -- current and former law enforcement officials to take a pledge to uphold the constitution in their view, not as might be interpreted by the courts or their superiors. we have had other radical right
groups, the proud boys. a new group called the alt nights come to college campuses, really looking for a fight. my said that he goes out to -- my said that the goes out to the university officials at berkeley that the goessaid out to the university officials at berkeley because of the incendiary situation. one of the reasons i think it is important for public officials from all levels to do what they the rhetoricdown and really speak out on behalf of the values of our democracy. >> one of the problems that i have is that there is a next dictation -- an expectation the university handles it. the handling of it means that you have resources to be able to , and those resources know
what to do. particularly for a public university, particularly for the university of california there is a constant battle with the legislature over money. the resources are not always what they might be. does anyone on the panel have an idea if you expect -- except what mr. cohen has said, how should a university handle this? >> if i can speak briefly. resourceate the constraints, i teach at uc, we are aware of the constraints. this having been said, well we are fortunate to have you see police department --uc police, we are also in a city. >> that is berkeley. >> yes. i would think that we police department would be able and
willing to lend police officer's to help if we are in a position where the police department are unable to protect free speech whether university or otherwise, yes, we are in a bad position. >> let me understand what you are saying. matterer who comes, no what the disturbances, the university has to be prepared to handle it. it is a problem for the university. that is the argument you are making. speakermaking that a that might follmann eight -- fulminate a big problem should never be refused. they ought to be able to come, whatever the problem is, it ought to be handled. senator, i would not say should never, there are extraordinary circumstances, what if a buddy has planted a bomb?
-- somebody has planted a bomb? >> to me the extraordinary circumstances are when people come in uniform and hit people on the head. >> that cannot be enough to justify suppression of those whom they came to try to suppress. it is not just the university, it is the government. i am not a big believer in large jobs for the government, but one important job for the government is to prevent violence and prevent violence without suppressing free speech. u thecink that between police. >> you don't think we learned a lesson at kent state? >> as the one person who has actually made these decisions, we are in the business of educating at a university. we do not have the resources of a town or city at our disposal, either literally a budget, or a city to turn to tell them to
take it over. these are always judgment calls. i think the way to start with this is with a strong presumption in favor of the speech, particularly speech coming from a student group has invited somebody, an outside group if they were to come to campus, that is a different set of issues, certainly for a private university, to a certain extent, a public. always find a way to get to yes on a speech. perhaps you have to have it closed. there are a lot of ways in which the university can think about this. to suggest to universities, not just public, but private as well , that we have the resources to throw at all of these problems is a vastly exaggerated notion of what universities can do. it is putting more at the university's doorstep. if you start with the presumption of finding a way to get food program, and only if that can be overcome, then you don't have the program. >> no matter how radical, offensive, biased, prejudiced,
fascist the program is, you should find a way to accommodate? in response,ld say if we are talking about the substance of the program, not the danger, but the substance of the program, then yes. , if ahink the program student group invites, they should be able to. however, he or she coming to campus should be prepared to answer questions. howuld tell donors that say can you have them speak on campus, i would say, trust my kids to ask the questions. >> here is the problem, it is very often not your kids. it is outsiders who come with a specific program to disturb and hurt. >> men, you are right.
with a private university you have the option of saying, this is an event that is close to university students. members of the university community are invited, and only members of the university committee. our obligation is to educate. public university has a significant problem there. i would be deferential to the to make a to have tough judgment call, particularly in the case you are describing. which in the case are more real than i think a hopeful audience might think. i think that is a problem. i think particularly, in view of the divisions within this nation at this time, which are extraordinary, from my experience, i think we all have to protect the general welfare too. i appreciate free speech. those of us that run for office, run for office on the basis of being able to speak freely.
thing tos another agitate. it is another thing to formant. it is another thing to attack. many of these speeches, it is one of the things a president would take into account, if a speaker is coming to campus for the purpose of agitating cases of speakers who post images of students on screens in order to intimidate or humiliate this didn't come a that has no place in a university. that is not an intent to communicate, it is an intent to image -- intimidate. >> the second boat has started. i will wait and vote at the last minute. >> i think i will as well. aske is not my turn to questions again, but i'm really one here. let me go back to the professor.
many higher education administrators say that they have to balance of free speech with civility, respect, and diversity, doesn't such allen think of the first amendment, which sets its own balance insufficiently? -- its own balance insufficient weight? >> that seems to suggest we can balance free speech. exceptions,are narrow exceptions, generally speaking the spring court has rejected the approach it is about balancing. that said, i am a deep believer in civility as a means of promoting free speech. it is actually, when people speaks of a leak are more likely to be enlightened and to get all of the benefits of free speech. i think the university ought to prove -- promote civility, not
by suppressing freeze each, in part because it is tempting, it is human nature to give the benefit of the doubt to people whom we agree with and say, they are not uncivil, they are just impassioned. people we disagree with -- they need to be suppressed. i think universities should promote stability, but not by suppressing speech they view as uncivil. >> do you have anything to add? >> no. >> professor, your testimony described how earlier efforts to suppress free speech have led to today's censorship on campus of speech that no one then would have anticipated, if this trend continues, what kind of speech to you think would be next to be suppressed on campuses based on their content? that when people are concerned about a slippery slope i think they are often quite justified.
we'll even -- we live in a legal system based on restrictions, they say, we accepted this kind, i think we have seen this. we have seen attempts to suppress serious, scholarly debate. calntioned an incident at state northridge where there was an award-winning scholar of middle eastern history who had written a biography about the founder of modern turkey. armenian students were upset with the speaker because he was seen as too soft. there was seen responsible for attacks on armenians. there were accusations that the speaker himself did not take the proper view of the killing of armenians. they shouted him down. they kept this award-winning scholar from speaking on a subject most of us would not have thought would be the one to suppress. when that happens, we have already seen attempts to suppress speech that is
pro-israel. there have been movements, even it uc -- speeches of anti-israel. a vast array of topics. restriction on speech for fear of violence, people will learn that by threatening violence, they can effectively restricted. that is a tool that will be limited to one side -- it will not be limited to one side. >> senator kennedy, it would be your turn if you are ready. also could i ask a favor, i have not voted. would you be able to stay here and finish the meeting? i am told there are two other people who want to come back. --n you finish it for me would you finish it for me? >> can i have the gavel? can i bang the gavel? >> yes.
since i will turn it over to senator kennedy, thank you all for participating. says,like senator durbin there seems to be a great deal of consensus and i wish that consensus would be in the headlines of our papers when we read about the violence and the things that happen on campuses. when not all violence people don't get to speak when they should have the opportunity. thank you. senator kennedy: thank you. senator feinstein, have you asked questions? senator feinstein: please, you go ahead. don't worry about me. senator kennedy: i don't even have to start the clock. wood, tell me again, the speakers that you disagreed with but thought had a right to be heard in the interest of public
discourse at williams. mr. wood: one speaker was suzanne banker. she was a social critic. she was an antifeminist and she wrote the flip side of feminism. senator kennedy: so she disagreed with feminism. did she use offensive language or did she just disagree? withood: she disagreed feminism and she framed things in ways that were inflammatory. senator kennedy: how do you mean? mr. wood: she said that women should be kept at home. things like that. senator kennedy: who was the college president? .sther wood: adam faulk senator kennedy: is he still there? mr. wood: yes. i will share a: couple of thoughts and i will react,k the panel to
including mr. wood. i have always wondered about test their did not assumptions against the arguments of their critics. and that would seem to me that that was the importance of that would be one of the qualifications of the college president. it was suggested by one of the panelists that the problems with the students, and i don't doubt that, with some students, but students are by their nature are passionate. mostly liberal, centerleft. i was when i was in college. they don't have, they go to college to gain the life experience and the learning that there are other points of view.
with some exceptions i don't really blame the students. they are in college to learn otherwise, i blame the ministration. -- the administration. i blame dr. falk. if he because of his politics, or because he was concerned about offending faculty or students, or alumni was worried his security at the institution, and i don't know if any of those things are true. but if what you described happened, he should resign. it is that simple. studentsto explain to and to have him understand that they do not have a constitutional right in life not to be offended. they are going to be offended plenty of times in life. i am not talking about hate speech.
i understand that hate speech is .ow supposedly illegal but speech that is inflammatory, or a racial epitaph, speech designed to provoke. i'm talking about somebody that wants to discuss the point of view that might not be popular. as far as i am concerned, dr. falk should hide his head in a bag if he took a position like that. another point of view in a civil manner cannot be considered on this campus. here is my question, as the -- as so you can, singly as you can come up because i want to respect the time, where do you draw the line? where do you draw the line? i don't want to speaker to come racialiversity and use a epithet repeatedly for someone
who would be offended by it, presumably everyone. i don't consider that to be adding to public discourse. on the other hand, if somebody discuss, ase and did charles murray at middle very -- middle barry, discuss the bell curve and is suited down and denied the right to discuss an intellectual point of view, i don't see anything wrong with that even though i may or may not agree. who wants to tell me how to draw the line? personally,think where the line needs to be drawn is when there is a threat made. if the language that is being used in the expression of a particular viewpoint crosses the line of being a threat, that is when i think -- i think personally, i try to consider intellectual value.
i invite a speaker, i think there has to be some intellectual value. which is to say, i have to believe this beaker is interested in contributing to public discourse and adding their opinion as a part of the conversation with a particular issue. >> from an intellectual point of view? >> i would say there are two different questions here. i think mr. wood has put it exactly right for what a student group would do well to use as a standard. as a former university president i would say my standard has to be, ironically, lower than that. i would say that would be my standard. that somebody like me would bring somebody from a student group might bring -- the question is, will this be threatening to the campus, in which case it could be restricted. otherwise, no, if a student wants to put on an event, they anywith one stipulation -- speaker who comes to campus has
to be prepared to stay and take questions and get respectful, decent, civil answers. >> i don't want to go over. i am over my time. i don't mean any disrespect to dr. fox. my guess is, based on what i have read about him, he is centerleft. substantially centerleft. centerleftlcome speakers, but he would not welcome center right speakers. that is the most intellectually dishonest thing i have ever heard if that is true. i would feel the same way if he were center-right and were excluding centerleft speakers. he is not fit to be a college president, as far as i'm concerned. senator? senator: thank you. i think i will start where we left off with senator kennedy. mr. lawrence, you're talking about how you balance this and what the standards should be and
i value the first amendment. my dad was a reporter his entire life. he is now 89 and blogs still. mr. lawrence, you want to talk about the value of spree -- free speech and how important it is. au are answering more in response to mr. wood. appropriate to review free speech comedy want to go over that? >> i think we start with the presumption that free speech is protected on campus because it is absolutely central to the function of creating knowledge, discovering knowledge, and transmitting knowledge through teaching, scholarship, and discussions. the lines are drawn only at the extreme edges. meaning thatdges which threatens, or actually disables the learning process, not that which make somebody uncomfortable. part of the function of spending four years in an undergraduate
institution is to be intellectually uncomfortable and have your ideas challenged. >> i agree. i went to university of chicago law school. >> nothing more need be said. chicago i am told is the one place where it it was said that you could flunk lunch. >> thank you, i didn't do that. >> that is the faculty, not the students. with those exceptions, the speech will be protected, that is the essence. >> this idea that mr. wood brought up, which i appreciate, the threat. if somebody has made a threat. would you judge that by the the past or recently? >> as near as you can assess. what you are trying to do is figure out the intent. if you have someone who is communicating views that are on my even unpleasant views, i would say even if they are a hateful, if the intent is to communicate, that is protected.
if the intent is to threaten or intimidate or menace, it is not. it is not always an easy line to draw. those are the lawns that -- lines that we are drawing. >> thank you. mr. cohen, talk a little bit about how you draw that line if you are in mr. lawrence's job. >> i am glad i am not in his job. those are very difficult things. the supreme court has a written -- or rules about what constitutes a true threat. it is not merely how other people might perceive it. it is as they have said, the intent of the speaker. we have never advocated for restrictions on speech in any context. brandenburg, the incitement of animate law -- eminent law, it is rare that one has seen some like that. in general i would agree with
dr. lawrence, mr. lawrence, that we should have a presumption in favor of speech. as the supreme court said, it is a bedrock principle for our country to engage in robust, uninhibited debate of good ideas and bad ideas. >> mr. abrams? >> i would add that we have all agreed and it is the law the private universities and colleges are not bound by the first amendment. it would be constitutional for them to stay -- say, we only invite people who we think are of educational value, and therefore we choose not to invite this person or that person who we consider not to educate. ability to i don't want to say the problem -- the reality that was that so long as a private university
says, as they do, we choose to apply first amendment standards, as long as they allow students, as i think they should, to invite guests to offer their whatever, that the university ought to stay out of the business of making quality or educational quality decisions. i think it would be inappropriate for university to say, you want to have an coulter speak? we don't think she has anything to contribute. the republican students and certain california universities wanted her to come and speak. it seems to me that once you open that door, which i think is well worth opening, the university ought to stay out, except in the most extraordinary -- literally violence, on the
lips of violence situations. >> one more question. thank you. ask as many as: you want. whose fault was that? >> this is freedom of the speech. one last thing since you are here, mr. abrams. we all know that you represented the new york times in the landmark is papers case where the supreme court ruled that the federal government could not block the new york times from publishing certain classified documents on the vietnam war. your experience, can you speak to the importance of ensuring the first amendment and our laws continue to protect journalists at this time in history. >> briefly if you could. >> i think that is a good idea. critical.
no less critical now than at any other time. essential that we continue to protect journalists in , in theering, reporting expression of opinions, and the like. criticism of them should also be wide open. there is never a time, but certainly not now to limit those rights. >> we had an incident in the capital where there was some closing down of tv reporters, that we fixed it. i thought it was a good question. senator: we are two minutes from adjourning, unfortunately. i have been presiding over the senate this morning so i have missed the hearing. it is an important topic. i want to thank all of you for being here. we have data that shows that 40% of americans under age 35 think
that the first amendment is potentially dangerous if people can use their first amendment freedoms to say things that others find offensive. i we had time to unpack it, would love to understand, i am a former college president, i would love to understand the current state of play in university administrations where they are doing this bizarre thing of trying to define the term offensive. question.se with one given the number of legal precedents that establish free speech protections on public campuses, i would be curious to hear a top one from each of you. in the face of so many of these come in my view, bizarre speech that owns emerging on campuses. in the sense that there are so many spaces that are supposedly not free speech zones on campus. what role do you think the government should conceivably have? it is a big problem, i know. it is not the sort of thing on
public campuses you think you would need to think about government responsibilities to ensure protections. >> that is absolutely right. the state of nebraska, for example, runs the university of nebraska. it has a responsibility to make sure it is run properly. obviously much of the time one wants to leave that to the professionals who are hired to it looks like they are not doing -- if it looks like they are not doing a good job protecting speech, the state has a double obligation to make sure the universities are complying with the u.s. constitution as well as what i think our best educational principles of protecting such speech. in california there is a special statute that provides extra protection for a public university. i think that has been helpful. >> i agree. i had a note of caution. i am apprehensive about state legislatures getting too close
to the university campuses in terms of dictating or requiring certain types of teaching to be allowed, not allowed, subjects to be taught were not taught, or the like. >> me too. to agree with you, i am a small government guy who wants to see possible.of this as that is why it is more incumbent on administered is to offer a full defense of the first amendment. also in terms of the spirit of a liberal arts education, where one of the things that happens is you grow as an adult and encounter ideas you did not already agree with. one of two things happens -- sometimes you are persuaded. sometimes you get converted. it is called education. i think that is the bell telling me we are done. sometimes he find that your ideas were good and were made
stronger by having to encounter people who did not agree with you. you have to respect their viewpoints and have a debate. it is both the essence and parcel of first amendment culture and the beating heart of american the leaf in discourse. it is also fundamentally what is supposed to be happening on a college campuses. i am sad we are out of time. thank you for being here. do you have the gavel? we are adjourned. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]