Victory for Free Speech at Indian River Community College
February 2, 2005
Students Free to Show ‘The Passion of the Christ’
“We appreciate IRCC’s acknowledgement of its mistakes and its recognition of its duty to allow constitutionally protected expression on campus,” remarked FIRE President
Last fall, IRCC prohibited CSF from hosting a screening of The Passion of the Christ on campus, justifying its actions by claiming to have banned all R-rated movies. Soon afterwards, it enacted a new policy requiring a faculty advisor’s presence at all student group events. This Orwellian policy effectively prevented CSF from meeting because its demands on the time of CSF’s faculty advisor forced him to resign. When CSF’s efforts to resolve the situation proved unsuccessful, the group contacted FIRE for help.
FIRE intervened and quickly discovered and publicized a profound double standard: IRCC had recently allowed the performance of a skit called “F**king for Jesus” and a viewing of the R-rated documentary film Welcome to Sarajevo, but it would not allow the showing of The Passion of the Christ. Under intense media pressure, IRCC conducted a legal review of its policies, leading to yesterday’s decision to permit the screening and last week’s decision to lift the requirement that a college official attend all student group meetings.
“This is a victory for free speech, students’ rights, and common sense,” noted FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Greg Lukianoff. “IRCC had a rule that treated college students like children, but it has shown the courage to admit it was wrong. We are pleased that this case has been successfully resolved and would be happy to advise IRCC administrators if they have any questions about how best to demonstrate their respect for the rights of their students in the future,” he concluded.
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across
Greg Lukianoff, Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, FIRE: 215-717-3473; firstname.lastname@example.org
Edwin R. Massey, President,