One of the most shocking attacks on free speech that I never heard about!

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by The Gray Area,

taken from FIRE,

Five months ago, May 9th, in a letter addressed to the University of Montana, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) redefined ‘sexual harassment as any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature’ including ‘verbal conduct’ (that is, speech). This was the result of mishandled sexual assault cases investigated by the DOJ. No one supports sexual assault and everyone wants to do whatever necessary to stop such activity. However, this agreement with the federal government goes above and beyond the scope of these cases.

The OCR/DOJ said this new policy agreement should be a “blueprint” for all colleges and universities accepting federal funding. This includes gender related speech as well. Did you speak out against gay marriage? Did you recommend Lolita, 1984 or even The Canterbury Tales to a friend or did a professor assign same to his class? Did you ask someone out on a date who wasn’t interested? According to the “blueprint”, any of these things can now get you branded a harasser.

Sounds pretty unreasonable, right? Guess what: that doesn’t matter anymore. The “blueprint” says that speech does not have to be objectively offensive for it to be punishable.

This kind of rule-making is dangerous. And most importantly, it’s grossly unconstitutional.

Sen. McCain seized on this subject in June to send a letter to the DOJ that criticized the “blueprint” and challenged the mandates legality.

The stifling effect of these codes isn’t theoretical. In 2011, the University of Denver suspended a professor and found him guilty of sexual harassment because his class discussion on sexual taboos in American culture (in a graduate-level course) was considered too racy. Last year, Appalachian State University suspended a professor for creating a “hostile environment” after she criticized the university’s treatment of sexual-assault cases involving student-athletes and screened a documentary critical of the adult-film industry. The University of Cincinnati set up a “free speech zone” policy that had been used to limit peaceful expression. And the list goes on.

The University of Montana’s new sexual harassment policy was approved by the government agencies last week and threatens the First Amendment rights of students and faculty. Faculty members are also alarmed that a list of faculty who refuse to attend the university’s trainings on the new policy will be reported to the federal government.

Continue to pay attention for issues limiting free speech. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, bedrocks of this country all all under attack.

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