Florida Attorney General Challenges University of Florida on Free Speech
December 5, 2007
by Adam Kissel
By not only criticizing the ad, but also calling on the groups that posted the ad to apologize, Dr. Telles-Irvin, intentionally or not, has chilled free speech on the UF campus. It may be that her intent with this letter was simply to encourage students when speaking of radical Islamists to put them in context by also making a statement that most practitioners of the Islamic faith are not terrorists and not radical Islamists. But that is not the effect of her letter. And I would submit that when one posts an ad for a movie it isn’t practical to expect a “clarification,” as perhaps Dr. Telles-Irvin thinks is needed when speaking of radical Islamists.
University officials should think twice before meddling in First Amendment rights. After all, they should be the ones most passionate about promoting this freedom.
The wisdom of the administration’s action, an e-mail to the entire student body parroting one side’s view, represents a dangerous precedent for every instance when someone exercises the right to free speech.