January 31, 2004

Speech Codes

Posted by shonk at 12:44 AM in Uncategorized Current Events | TrackBack

Ah, speech codes. Gotta love ‘em. The one at Illinois State, for example, is so restrictive with regards to drugs and alcohol that a “Just Say No to Drugs” poster would be verboten:

The school’s response was that the University Housing Services policy prohibits (among other things) any “references to alcohol, tobacco and/or illicit drugs,” and the picture of a marijuana leaf and the title “Hempfest” violates this policy. (The e-mail that I quote above quotes another policy, which — according to the school — the flyer also violated.) Obviously, such a policy would literally prohibit a “Just Say No to Drugs” event, since that’s a reference to illicit drugs; likewise, as the group’s legal argument (available at the site cited above) points out, for a support group for alcoholics. And if the policy isn’t applied to such events, that would only show that in reality the policy is viewpoint-based — messages that drugs are bad would be OK, but messages that drugs really aren’t so bad wouldn’t be.

Of course, it hardly even needs be said, but I’ll quote Volokh’s conclusion anyway: “This is quite likely unconstitutional, and pretty clearly a violation of students’ academic freedom.”