I remember having to listen to various campus “preachers” at Wright State screaming at the top of their lungs about sin and damnation. Many overstepped their bounds. I remember one guy who liked to point at women dressed “provocatively” and yell “prostitute.” Needless to say- these people were a nuisance, they disturbed the peace and on one occasion, I remember one ending up in the moat “accidentally.”
These individuals, while expressing their rights of free speech, were doing so at the expense of others’ ability to study, enjoy the quad or to relax in a public place. The way to deal with them is to trespass them off for disturbing the peace. However, if they keep it down, and don’t force themselves or their literature on anyone- they should have every right to discuss anything they want from Scientology to Wicca.
Unfortunately, Sinclair seems to have decided it is above the First Amendment, and is trying to regulate the ability to speak on campus:
Four people were arrested and one was given a citation Wednesday, May 20, after a demonstration at Sinclair Community College got out of hand.
Charles Gift, director of public safety for Sinclair Community College, said campus police received a call about noon from a student who said demonstrators were disturbing her.
Officers spoke to the group, Faithful Soldier School of Evangelism, a ministry of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wis.
“Sinclair has set procedures for anyone who wants to speak on campus,” Gift said Wednesday night. “It is a public campus and we welcome anyone who wants to come and speak. All they have to do is follow the procedure.”
Gift said two members of the group were disorderly when they were told they could stay on campus if they got rid of their signs and did not distribute literature unless someone asked for it.
The two, a male and a female, were arrested.
Of course, there is more to this story than what appears here, but no one is ever required to hand over a video recording device on demand:
According to Gift, the officer — who was not identified by name — noticed that a female in the group was recording the incident on either a camera phone or video camera.
The officer asked her for the device so a copy of the incident could be made, Gift said. She ran, hiding behind another male in the group. Both the female and male refused to turn over the device and, according to Gift, the man punched the officer in the face. (ibid)
This will be an expensive jaunt through the courts for both sides, when all could have been avoided with a little research on the subject of “campus speaking procedures” which have failed almost every time when tested in courts.
The real question is, what is Sinclair afraid of? What can anyone say that is truly that dangerous to the public? I witnessed much more vitriol at the “Dayton Tea Party” than I’ve ever seen from a campus preacher.
Institutions of higher learning should be bastions for free speech in this country, at least if we ever hope to aspire to the lofty expectations of the founding fathers.
If Sinclair were smart, it would try to work out a compromise immediately in exchange for no lawsuits and acknowledge that a misunderstanding took place and escalated by mistake of both parties. Let’s get back to educating and open discussion of issues. Another test case won’t do anyone any good.