And far from trying to take it back, Gingrich proudly reproduced on his own Web site a story from the Manchester Union Leader reporting his remarks — right down to the headline, GINGRICH RAISES ALARM AT EVENT HONORING THOSE WHO STAND UP FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH. (The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications, which sponsored the dinner, is principal owner of the Union Leader.)

Keith Olbermann, on his MSNBC program, Countdown, reacted thusly: “If you’re going to destroy freedom of speech, bub, you’ve already lost all the cities. To paraphrase Pastor Martin Niemöller’s poem about Germany in the ’30s and ’40s: First they came for the Fourth Amendment, then they came for habeas corpus, then they came for free speech, and there was no one allowed to speak up.”

But the last word goes to Olbermann’s guest, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who said, “I mean, it’s bizarre it would occur in a First Amendment speech. God knows what he’d say at a Mother’s Day speech.”

John Nazarian
Rhode Island College leader removes pro-choice signs

What was Rhode Island College president John Nazarian thinking?

In December 2005, the Women’s Studies Organization at the college posted several signs in support of reproductive freedom — including, most notably, KEEP YOUR ROSARIES OFF OUR OVARIES. A priest reportedly noticed the signs while traveling to Nazarian’s home to celebrate mass, and mentioned them during the service. Nazarian responded by ordering that the signs be taken down, claiming that the women had not followed the proper approval process.

This past December, the Rhode Island ACLU filed suit in federal court, claiming the women’s First Amendment rights had been abridged. Now, of course, it’s true that people can’t go around putting up signs anywhere they please. But according to the ACLU, the place where the Women’s Studies Organization had posted its signs — the entrance to the campus — has been the scene of numerous temporary signs, including some put up by the college itself.

Rhode Island College is a public, taxpayer-funded institution, which makes Nazarian’s act of censorship that much worse. “A public university can’t abridge anyone’s free-speech rights, including [those of] students,” says Jennifer Azevedo, a volunteer lawyer with the ACLU.

The mystery is why Nazarian believed he needed to do anything. A demonstration of pro-choice sentiment at a college in the liberal Northeast is hardly the stuff of controversy. In fact, it’s difficult to believe that even the priest who mentioned it to Nazarian was offended, no matter how strongly he may have disagreed with the message. If Nazarian had just waited a few days, the signs would have been gone and forgotten.

Instead, he reacted with a blatant act of censorship — and, according to the ACLU, compounded it by attempting to assert at one point that the students had no First Amendment claims against him because he’s not a government employee.

“College is a place for the free expression of ideas,” says Nichole Aguiar, president of the Women’s Studies Organization. “[Rhode Island College] has denied our organization those rights and we have decided to take action to ensure that RIC is a better place for all students.”

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |   next >
  Topics: News Features , Mitt Romney, U.S. Government, Prisons,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY DAN KENNEDY
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   A LOOK AT 10 ENEMIES OF FREE SPEECH AND PERSONAL LIBERTIES THROUGHOUT NEW ENGLAND  |  June 27, 2013
    Obama's longstanding lack of respect for the role of a free press in a democratic society reached new depths when it was revealed that his Justice Department had snooped on the Associated Press and Fox News' James Rosen in trying to ferret out leakers.
  •   THE 15TH ANNUAL MUZZLE AWARDS  |  July 13, 2012
    Liberal dreams that Barack Obama would somehow usher in a progressive paradise were always misplaced.
  •   INTERVIEW: RORY O’CONNOR DIGS SOCIAL MEDIA  |  May 14, 2012
    Rory O'Connor has been thinking about trust and the media for a long time.
  •   UNCOVERING THE SINS OF JOE MCGINNISS  |  October 09, 2012
    Joe McGinniss's 1983 bestseller Fatal Vision offered up Jeffrey MacDonald as a modern exemplar of evil: a narcissistic, remorseless monster who beat to death his wife and five-year-old daughter in a diet-pill-fueled frenzy, then coolly killed the only witness, his two-year-old daughter.
  •   THE 14TH ANNUAL MUZZLE AWARDS  |  June 29, 2011
    To understand just how disappointing Barack Obama has been on civil liberties, you need only consider the case of David House, a founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network.  

 See all articles by: DAN KENNEDY