Sep 27, 2011 Censoring a democracy wall at a public university, and a professor’s door
The primary factor that led me to criminal defense was an obsession over protecting civil liberties, and, with public defender work, an obsession over making equal access to justice more of a reality.
In that regard, then, it is only natural that in addition to criminal defense, I do student discipline defense. The two legal defense areas go well together, sometimes with student disciplinary matters relating to pending or potential criminal charges, and involving the fight for fair proceedings and fair treatment.
Caveat emptor: Before you choose a college, graduate school, or private high school, read the institution’s student discipline code to make sure whether you still want to attend. Also, I recommend googling "site:thefire.org [insert the name of the academic institution that interests you]." TheFire.org is the web address for the indispensable Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which focuses on stopping the rampant runaway train of unfair student conduct codes and student discipline. The FIRE was started by political conservatives, and rounded itself out with ACLU types, among others. Among the services it provides are these free information guides geared particularly to students unable to hire and pay for a lawyer.
Teachers might also benefit from looking up academic institutions on http://thefire.org before working there, lest they discover too late that they have selected a school that is long on excessive administrative control and short on respecting their teachers and students.
Thanks to the FIRE for posting on the following recent disturbing free speech suppression matters at public universities:
– The University of Wisconsin-Stout police and the university’s "threat assessment team" have steamrolled a professor’s First Amendment right to quote "Firefly" on his office door, and to follow up with his lament about the censorship. The FIRE reports this week that "UW-Stout has refused to back down".
– A Sam Houston State University police officer recently threatened a student democracy wall, after a professor reportedly cut out an anti-Obama slogan. (The wall also had an anti-Bush slogan.) Perhaps the police officer and vetting professor think they are not in the United States, but instead in China during the Chinese government’s tension about how far expression went on the Democracy Wall there.
Speak your mind. If not, whose mind will you speak?