New TN ‘Campus Free Speech’ law praised as ‘most comprehensive ‘ in the nation

The Tennessee version of a “Campus Free Speech” bill, signed into law earlier this month by the governor after approval by lopsided margins in the legislature, is getting some national media attention – most recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s roundup of similar legislation across the nation.

It starts like this:

A wave of proposed legislation on campus free speech is making its way through statehouses across the nation. Last week Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, signed into law a measure that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education called “the most comprehensive state legislation protecting free speech on college campuses that we’ve seen passed anywhere in the country.”

That new law, among other things, bars public colleges from establishing “free-speech zones” and requires them to adopt broad statements of support for free expression….

The new crop of bills is broadly based on a model designed by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank. The American Association of University Professors said in a statement on Thursday that it opposes any legislation “that interferes with the institutional autonomy of colleges and universities by undermining the role of faculty, administration, and governing board in institutional decision-making and the role of students in the formulation and application of institutional policies affecting student affairs.”

For another example, see Breitbart News’ report, which includes the same Foundation for Individual Rights quote and this note on the measure’s provisions:

Finally, the Campus Free Speech Protection Act will forbid viewpoint-based discrimination in the distribution of funds for student groups and prevent faculty from being punished for what they choose to say in the classroom unless it is “not reasonably germane to the subject matter of the class as broadly construed, and comprises a substantial portion of classroom instruction.”

The law comes at a time when the ability for differing viewpoints, especially those on the political right, to be heard on campuses has come under simultaneous attack from radical leftist groups and university administrations.

Note: The bill that passed (SB723, as amended) began it life as a caption bill. After revision, it replaced an earlier measure (SB739), that was left to die in committee after some controversy over it being labeled “the Milo bill” –before former Brietbart News columnist Milo Yiannopoulos stirred controversy by condoning sex between grown men and underage boys.  See previous post HERE.

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