Fascism Watch: Campus protest goes out with a whimper

When a handful of written words becomes a vocal gag:

The constituent institution shall implement a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone under the jurisdiction of a constituent institution who substantially disrupts the functioning of the constituent institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others, including protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in and listen to expressive activity when the expressive activity has been scheduled pursuant to this policy or is located in a nonpublic forum.

The 1st Amendment has always been a confusing and controversial concept, because for every opinion, there is an opposing one. It was true in 1789 when the Bill of Rights was demanded by the separate states before they would ratify the Constitution, and it's true today. But for all the lofty arguments and debate about who infringes on whom, or yelling "Fire!" in a theater, the overriding message of the 1st Amendment is that government should not be in the business of dictating who gets to speak and who doesn't. And delegating that decision-making to some Orwellian committee doesn't negate the General Assembly's huge Constitutional blunder with this bill:

§ 116‑301. Committee on Free Expression.

(a) The Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina System shall establish the Committee on Free Expression and appoint 11 individuals from among its membership to the Committee. The members of the Committee on Free Expression shall elect a chair from the members of the Committee. Each member of the Committee on Free Expression shall serve on the Committee at the pleasure of the Board of Governors. Each member's term shall be equal to the remainder of the member's respective term on the Board of Governors. In the event of a vacancy on the Committee, the Board of Governors shall appoint a replacement from among its membership.

(b) All employees of The University of North Carolina System and all State agencies shall cooperate with the Committee on Free Expression by providing information requested by the Committee, unless the requested information is required to be kept confidential by other provisions of State or federal law.

That is both absurd and frightening.

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