Greg at ‘Huffington Post’ on JuicyCampus.com
April 1, 2008
The debate over college gossip site JuicyCampus.com has taken the media by storm and FIRE's president Greg Lukianoff has had several opportunities to speak to news sources regarding this issue. On March 30, he was featured in a segment on CBS Evening News. While he was interviewed extensively, only a brief clip made it on air, so Greg has posted the majority of what he shared with CBS on The Huffington Post. Here are some highlights:
While the content of JuicyCampus is juvenile and crude, it is mostly protected under the First Amendment. Thankfully for everyone from Bill Maher to Samantha Power to Dick Cheney, the Supreme Court has long recognized that even rude speech is free speech. Simply put, you don't want courts—or colleges—policing the internet for "offensive material." It is not only unwise to try to cleanse the web of objectionable material, frankly, it is impossible.
Furthermore, campuses should not get in the habit of blocking websites. Blocks are easy to circumvent—but more importantly, colleges and universities have a special obligation as "marketplaces of ideas" to avoid censorship. Any attempt to prevent students from seeing content they abhor online opens the door to censoring merely uncomfortable speech or dissent. Besides, couldn't one imagine a student or faculty member wishing to study the site? It is a regular Petri dish of sociological, legal, ethical, and psychosocial issues.
However, what makes JuicyCampus.com uniquely meaty discussion for First Amendment geeks like me is that it is actually more complicated then the usual "It's protected speech, end of story." That's because a portion of the content on JuicyCampus is unprotected. As The New York Times reported, there have been several incidents where authorities have been contacted and arrests have been made after students posted death threats and threatened to commit Virginia Tech-style massacres on JuicyCampus. Threats are not protected by the First Amendment, nor have they ever been.