On Campus, Free Speech at Odds With Tax Funding

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On March 22,
David
Huffman
spoke out in the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH)
student newspaper against being excluded from an on-campus public
event.

He was excluded
for being male.

The incident
spotlights the shell game being run on state campuses across North
America under the guise of free speech.

As a student,
Huffman’s fees paid for the public forum from which he was barred.
As taxpayers, his family underwrote his being treated like a black
in the Ante-Bellum South.

Critical commentary
on the incident has dwelled upon freedom of speech. But such commentaries
miss the deeper point that ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘tax-funding’
are antagonistic concepts.

First, the
facts of the Huffman incident:

On March 10,
an event titled “Patriarchy Slam” was held by the radical Feminist
Action League in a room reserved by a second and recognized student
group. (The significance of this is that the free room was used
in violation of UNH policy.) Posters across the campus advertised
the meeting as a public event, with no indication of “Women Only.”

Patriarchy
Slam expressed radical anti-male feminism. For example, some FAL
members wore scissors around their necks as they sang in praise
of castration. One member, who identified herself as Mary
Man-Hating-Is-Fun
, told the gathering, “Ever since I learned
to embrace my feminist nature, I found great joy in threatening
men’s lives…because I see them for what they are: misogynistic,
sexist, oppressive and absurdly pathetic beings who only serve to
pollute and contaminate this world…”

Huffman claims
that the coordinator advised him “as a man I would be intimidating.”
Thus, when the open-microphone segment began, Huffman was instructed
to leave even though he had caused no disruption. Other men remained
but, according to Huffman, he was told they had “allegiance to the
FAL.”

Moreover, he
explains FAL
“confiscated my program….Evidently, they do not want the public
knowing what was said that night….What I heard…was a hate rally.”

Huffman is
a journalist for the privately funded conservative student paper
Common Sense; FAL claims
he was excluded as a journalist, not as a man. But, then, why was
Shannon O’Neil, a female reporter for The New Hampshire, allowed
to stay?

Moreover, Anne
Lawing, vice president of student affairs, comments, “This was a
public event, and to turn anyone away is simply wrong. If you’re
a man you shouldn’t be turned away…if you’re a reporter, you shouldn’t
be turned away.”

Lawing also
raises the issue of freedom
of speech
. “We’re talking about their rights [FAL's rights]
and the First Amendment.”

Lawing is flatly
wrong. FAL members have no First Amendment right to express themselves
at taxpayer expense at a venue that has been improperly obtained.
FAL has no First Amendment right to exclude well behaved ‘others’
from public property because of their views. (FAL member Nicole
Whalen later stated, “women didn’t want to speak in front of him
[Huffman]” because “we knew he was a conservative writer from ‘Common
Sense,’ and we knew his intentions weren’t genuine.”)

When asked
if a fratboy event that called for the mutilation of female genitalia
would be tolerated, Lawing replied, “We have so much data that shows
that fraternities have been violent with women in the past and the
instances of women being violent to men happen so infrequently.”

Again, Lawing
is flatly wrong. Unbiased research shows that women commit violence
with significant frequency. Moreover, so-called “hate speech” does
not become actionable at UNH only if accompanied by a record of
criminal assault.

Hypotheticals
are not necessary.

Last fall,
another UNH student, Timothy
Garneau
, was kicked out his dorm and left to sleep in a friend’s
car for posting a flier in his dorm’s lobby, near the elevator.
It read, “9 out of 10 freshman girls gain 10-15 pounds [the notorious
Freshman 15]. But there is something you can do about it. If u live
below the 6th floor take the stairs. Not only will u feel better
about yourself but you will also be saving us time and wont be sore
on the eyes.”

Garneau had
no history of violence. Nevertheless, he required the intervention
of the Foundation for Individual
Rights in Education
, with its considerable legal clout, to regain
housing.

Did UNH violate
Garneau’s freedom of speech? I don’t know because I have no clear
concept of what free speech means on tax-funded property.

Freedom of
speech in the private sphere means that you have the right to express
yourself at your own expense. But everyone is forced to pay for
the UNH campus and, so, everyone should have an equal right to speak.
That’s the theory.

But implementing
this theory is an impossibility. A podium is a limited good that
must be ‘assigned’ by authorities. At UNH and on most campuses,
a handful of authorities have adopted policies that censure expression
that is discriminatory, “hate-speech,” or otherwise offensive. This
often means nothing more than speech of which they do not approve.

In short, even
if unlimited access to scarce podiums were possible, the authorities
would not permit it. This is the contradiction inherent in trying
to reconcile the terms ‘free speech’ and ‘tax funding’.

The solution
is simple: privatize. Just as Huffman’s conservative paper is privately
funded so, too, should scissor-wielding feminists be forced to finance
their own pro-castration agenda.

That would
be freedom of speech. That would constitute the exercise of First
Amendment rights.

April
8, 2005

Wendy
McElroy [send her mail]
is the editor of ifeminists.com
and a research fellow for The
Independent Institute
in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and
editor of many books and articles, including the new book, Liberty
for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century

(Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002).

Wendy
McElroy Archives

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