Citing an epidemic of anti-speech activity on campuses of American colleges and universities in 2015, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has award 50 schools of higher education the “Jefferson Muzzles,” a prize given to the worst offenders of free speech inside the United States.
Typically, presidents, branches of government and public school administrators have been the recipients of the “Jefferson Muzzles” for their outrageous efforts to censor. But the Thomas Jefferson Center considers the efforts to shut down free expression so fierce on American college campuses that they divided the Muzzles into various categories: censorship of students, censorship by students, efforts to limit press access on campus, threats to academic freedom, and censorship of outside speakers.
“Never in our 25 years of awarding the Jefferson Muzzles have we observed such an alarming concentration of anti-speech activity as we saw last year on college campuses across the country,” says a statement from the center that announced the winners.
Included on the list of muzzle recipients is UCLA, Princeton, University of Missouri, Harvard, Duke, and Yale.
This is the 25th edition of the awards that are usually granted around the April 13th birthday of Thomas Jefferson.
“When we have a large selection of nominations, I suppose it’s a good thing for the program, but it’s a sad commentary on the state of free speech in our country today,” Josh Wheeler, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center told The Associated Press in an interview. “Frankly we are as puzzled as anybody as to the reasons why there is this wave of anti-speech activity on college campuses.”
The University of Missouri made the cut for a Muzzle after students prevented a reporter from covering a protest on its campus in November. At that same protest, a now fired professor was caught on tape calling for “some muscle” to remove a student photographer from a “safe space.”
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression also took to task those at Yale who issued an advisory to students about halloween costumes that could be offensive.
According to the Center, “First Amendment principles have given way to identity politics, trigger warnings, and so-called “safe spaces,” and the Free Speech Movement has, at many colleges, become the Anti-Speech Movement.”
Among other “Muzzle” winners and the “offenses” the center cited:
- The University of Oklahoma, which severed all ties with a fraternity and expelled two students over a video that showed students singing a racist chant.
- Louisiana State University, which “demonstrated its feeble commitment to academic freedom” when the school fired a tenured professor over her occasional use of profanity and sexual humor in the classroom.
- Southern Illinois University–Carbondale and the University of North Texas, which attempted to exclude certain viewpoints from being heard on their campuses and challenged outside speakers.
In the Center’s statement, it was noted that several schools actively pushed back against the tide of anti-speech sentiment in 2015.
The statement cited the University of Chicago, which issued a free speech policy statement guaranteeing “all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.”
Joseph Jankowski is a contributor for Planet Free Will.com. His works have been published by recognizable alternative news sites like GlobalResearch.ca, ActivistPost.com, Mintpressnews.com and Intellihub.com.
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