It would be bad enough just that Modesto Junior College restricts free speech to a single “free speech zone” on its campus. That would be much like the campus having a single bus stop or more appropriately, a single tiny smoking area. Though it being a California school makes it doubtful that smoking is allowed anywhere on campus…a campus paid for, in part, with smokers’ taxes. That is a whole ‘nother post. It is worse than that though. It seems that Modesto Junior College, allegedly an institution of higher learning and full of knowledge, is full of something else. The school’s administration seems to have no knowledge of the first amendment to the United States Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech. Congress shall make no law…abridging the right of the people to peaceably assemble. You would think that understanding those concepts would be easy, right?? Especially for a college full of allegedly smart people? Well, apparently not in the case of Modesto Junior College.
On Constitution Day 2013 student Robert Van Tuinen thought it might be a good idea to exercise his free speech rights by passing out copies of…wait for it…The Constitution.
Now, that can’t be tolerated in the land of the…free?…and home of the brave, now can it? We simply cannot have someone running around willy-nilly handing out such propaganda to impressionable young minds just anywhere on a college campus! Someone might read it and actually find out a few things that our government…that all-knowing, beneficent nanny state government…is doing that is unconstitutional.
Modesto Junior College is aware of the 1st Amendment though. It pays lip service to it by allowing free speech in a “free speech zone” on campus. If you look at the drawing of the campus below…if you look REAL HARD, you can see it:
The free speech zone is that tiny orange circle the red arrow is pointing at. THAT is where you are allowed to exercise your First Amendment rights at MJC.
See how big it is? See how much importance the college gives to free speech? It is obvious that constitutional rights are a high priority for this state government institution, this taxpayer funded institution, isn’t it? They allow free speech, but allow it only on a tiny plot of ground that is well removed from the public. Is speech that no one hears really free speech? If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears, does it make a sound?
Incidentally, you cannot have a spontaneous political thought and express it on the Modesto Junior College Campus. Use of the Free Speech Zone must me scheduled ahead of time. A person has to be on the Free Speech Calendar in order to exercise his right to free speech. A question: Doesn’t having to be on a calendar constitute “abridging” freedom of speech, in violation of the First Amendment? Doesn’t being shoved off into a tiny, out of the way spot on campus where there is little chance of being heard by the general public constitute “abridging” freedom of speech?
The bottom line is: Free speech zones are offensive.
They are also unconstitutional, according to a Supreme court Decision in Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of NY, Inc vs Village of Straatton.
It is offensive—not only to the values protected by the First Amendment, but to the very notion of a free society—that in the context of everyday public discourse a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit to do so.