Free speech zones limit
"I may not agree with what you say, but
I will defend to the death your right to say it."
There are few issues these days that the
student body has enough interest in to protest, or react to at all.
Last March, Justice For Life managed to
tap into the student body and find a pulse. The organization, in conjunction
with Pro-Life Cougars and
the Free Speech Coalition, erected a controversial
exhibit that caused many students unease.
The exhibit, conveniently placed on Butler
Plaza in front of the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library, featured graphic
pictures of aborted fetuses and
information on abortion.
Some students were offended by the display,
which could be viewed on the way to and from lunch at the University Center.
In protest, one
student brought his guitar and sang impromptu
hippie campfire songs, while others held up signs that read, "Right to
While the exhibit sparked much protest
from students who felt strongly about the issue, many were irked simply
because the heart of the
controversy was in their pathway. While
there was some debate, no violence broke out during the few days Justice
For Life was here. No one
threw a fist, and there was no destruction
of public property.
Justice For Life packed up the display
and left quietly after a few days.
Despite lack of any true disruption of
student life, administrators refused to let the group show the display
at Butler Plaza last fall, offering instead
the low-key Lynn Eusan Park or the University
Center Patio. This was unacceptable to the group because the cost of building
the display and
traveling would have been unjustified
if the exhibit were displayed on a site with less student traffic.
Instead of allowing the group to be where
it was last March and cause only a few waves, administrators enabled Pro-Life
Cougars to make a
huge splash with a lawsuit contending
a violation of the First Amendment.
UH generously offered to discuss a "free
speech zone" to display the exhibit.
Isn't "free speech zone" a contradiction
in terms? If UH limits the locations where students and organizations can
practice free speech, then that
speech has been limited and is no longer
The truth is: We live in a pseudo-politically
correct society that is so pathetically concerned about not offending others
that we've placed a gag
order on those with "offensive" viewpoints.