Archive for the ‘First Amendment’ Category

Unlike the first time the St. Cloud City Council voted to censure George Hontos, this time they had the courage, if you can call it that, to vote in public. Nonetheless, it still was a disappointing display of bruised egos.

The good news is that the Council didn’t hide their vote. Now we know that the “ballots indicated Masters, Goerger, Paul Brandmire and Mike Conway voted ‘yes’ to censure Hontos; Steve Laraway and Lewis voted against censuring Hontos.”

I wish I was surprised that Masters and Goerger voted to censure Councilman Hontos but I’m not. Those 2 are the biggest disappointments on the Council. By far. I’d trade both of them for a bag full of Val’s French Fries and a chocolate shake. I’d consider the Val’s package a significant upgrade.

I’m most disappointed with Councilman Conway’s and Councilman Brandmire’s votes. Voting against the First Amendment is always wrong. A vote to censure Councilman Hontos was a vote against the First Amendment. It isn’t often that I agree with the ACLU but this time, I totally agree. It’s time the Council got back to governing by first principles. This vote was a vote on worst principles.

Rules 6-8 should be abolished ASAP. If the Council doesn’t vote to abolish those rules, then I wouldn’t be surprised if a court struck them down. Silencing the people’s representatives can’t be justified. That’s what the Council did last night. This shouldn’t shame Councilman Hontos. He did the right thing in speaking out. This vote should shame Councilmen Masters, Goerger, Brandmire and Conway.

Speaking of Councilman Hontos, he sent me this statement:

It was very evident this was an orchestrated action. I found it not surprising that some Councilmembers were aided by our City Attorney. I will look forward to the reaction from the ACLU. One important clarification Council member Conway misspoke in describing the open forum process. Here are the actual details, the meeting is adjourned, there are no minutes taken of what is said, there is no camera, and the individuals who speak are not listed in the minutes. That is different than what he stated.

On the deeper issue of turning off the cameras and adjourning the meeting before the public forum, I don’t know who’s hairbrained idea that was but that’s another thing that’s got to stop immediately. If the Council actually listened to the people, then they’d keep the cameras on, extend the speaking time from 3 minutes to 5 minutes and restore the forum to being part of the meeting. Finally, if it’s to have a meaningful impact, councilmembers should be allowed to respond.

At this point, I’m disgusted with the Council. They aren’t listening to their constituents. It’s time they started.

Like most DFL-affiliated organizations, CAIR-MN has a history of publishing one thing, then doing another. That’s quickly proven with a visit to CAIR’s mission page. A list of CAIR-MN’s principles reads like this:

  1. CAIR supports free enterprise, freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
  2. CAIR is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of faith.
  3. CAIR supports domestic policies that promote civil rights, diversity and freedom of religion.
  4. CAIR opposes domestic policies that limit civil rights, permit racial, ethnic or religious profiling, infringe on due process, or that prevent Muslims and others from participating fully in American civic life.
  5. CAIR is a natural ally of groups, religious or secular, that advocate justice and human rights in America and around the world.
  6. CAIR supports foreign policies that help create free and equitable trade, encourage human rights and promote representative government based on socio-economic justice.
  7. CAIR believes the active practice of Islam strengthens the social and religious fabric of our nation.
  8. CAIR condemns all acts of violence against civilians by any individual, group or state.
  9. CAIR advocates dialogue between faith communities both in America and worldwide.
  10. CAIR supports equal and complementary rights and responsibilities for men and women.

I’d start by saying that the first 3 bullet points aren’t what CAIR practices. I quoted Jaylani Hussein, CAIR-MN’s Executive Director, in this post as saying “St. Cloud residents cannot allow for a small fringe group of haters to dominate and take over the narrative of what St. Cloud is and who it is. There should be concern about these hate groups who are creating a very unsafe environment to the point where talks like these are not taking place. More people, more residents need to shun and call these people for what they are — hate groups who are trying to create fear.”

Hussein insists that a group of people peacefully protesting and another group of people praying for the Persecuted Church.

  1. Mr. Hussein, please explain how CAIR can support freedom of expression while calling for an entire city to call a group of people praying for the persecute church a hate group. In fact, forget the please. I demand that you explain how those 2 principles fit together.
  2. Mr. Hussein, I’d love hearing how CAIR can oppose “domestic policies that limit civil rights” while accusing an organization that’s praying a hate group. Since the First Amendment guarantees our right to practice the religion of our choice, including not practicing any religion, CAIR apparently doesn’t understand the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

Forgive me if I don’t take it seriously when CAIR insists that it’s a civil rights organization. This video is ridiculous:

Comparing the SJW movement with MLK’s civil rights movement is beyond ridiculous. They fit together like oil and water.

It isn’t surprising that AFSCME thugs don’t care about the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling. AFSCME cares more about political power than about the rule of law. This is what they’ll do to maintain political power:

In Minnesota, a Scandia Elementary School worker sued after AFSCME refused to let her out of the union. In Massachusetts and Oregon, unions have continued to illegally deduct dues. In Washington State, union members trying to exit were told they had to wait until a 10 day “escape period,” which wasn’t publicized and wouldn’t come until the next year. These are but a few examples.

AFSCME should get fined for these deliberate violations of the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling. They weren’t the actions of people who didn’t understand the Supreme Court’s ruling. Quite the contrary. These were the actions of a union willing to do anything to maintain its political influence.

As for states that have an escape period (Washington State), the courts should abolish that provision. According to the Janus ruling, the First Amendment gives the people, as individuals, the authority to pick who they want to represent them to redress their grievances. The union, in this case AFSCME, doesn’t have the right to put conditions on when people can leave the union.

AFSCME is on the defensive, though they’re doing a good job of hiding it. This video is instructive:

The spokesman, Lee Saunders, said that many predicted AFSCME’s collapse after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME but that they’re rebounding. Saunders proclaims victory for a bill that hasn’t been introduced that would let employers “voluntarily” deduct union dues from workers’ paychecks.

That isn’t a victory. That’s a step back for the unions.

It’s time to call out the St. Cloud Times for protecting their leftist cronies. This Our View Editorial is disgusting. It’s about the postponed Dismantling Hate Crimes event from this past Wednesday. Here’s the opening of the SCTimes’ article:

Sadly, people driven by fear are still driving the public agenda. Witness about two dozen people who showed up Wednesday at the St. Cloud Library to protest a panel discussion about dismantling hate crimes because, well, spreading hate and fear is their go-to.

Shame on the Times for publishing this trash. This isn’t worthy of a college newspaper, much less worthy of a once-respectable newspaper. This editorial is cringeworthy for its sloppiness and fact gathering.

First, the St. Cloud Human Rights Commission published a postponement notice on their Facebook page Wednesday afternoon. The timestamp for the post is 1:16 pm on Sept. 18th:

Next, 2 groups were there at the Library that might’ve been considered protest groups. One was a group who prayed for the Persecuted Church. The other organization is called the “Freedom Speaks Coalition.”

One of the groups applied for and received a permit to use a room in the Public Library from 2:00 pm-4:00 pm September 18. The Dismantling Hate Crimes event didn’t start until 6:00 pm. The Times’ hit piece continues:

First, though, many of the picketers (who showed up despite the cancellation that came soon before the event was to begin) would not stand up for their beliefs in the most basic way possible, by putting their names to their convictions. Offered the opportunity by journalists from the St. Cloud Times and other news outlets to explain their point of view, many offered their thoughts but most refused to provide their names.

Why would a sane person give the Times their name considering the Times Editorial Board’s penchant for smearing its political opponents? The Times is a media organization. Do they think we don’t know that they’re aware of Antifa protests on college campuses against conservatives and Christians? Am I supposed to believe that they aren’t aware of the violence that #BlackLivesMatters has perpetrated? Democrat-affiliated thugs like Antifa, #BlackLivesMatter and CAIR shouldn’t be trusted.

Notice that the Times trusted MDHR’s and CAIR’s narrative that the event was cancelled because some peaceful protesters showed up at the event. What the Times didn’t mention is that the event was postponed before the protesters arrived at the Library. Notice that the Times omitted the fact that Assistant Police Chief Jeff Oxton told Times reporter Jenny Berg that they hadn’t received any threats regarding the event.

Does the Times actually think that this postponement is legitimate? The SC Chief of Police was scheduled to participate in the discussion, as was an FBI supervisor. Also, 2 St. Cloud police officers were there. To think that CAIR and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights would get frightened by these protesters is foolish.

I’m tired of the Times Editorial Board either watering down their editorials to protect their political favorites or ignoring major facts. (Think Jeff Oxton’s statement.) The Times is supposed to be a news-gathering organization. It’d be nice if their work product reflected that. This video by Marni Hockenberg lays out pretty much the same facts that I laid out in this post:

CAIR-MN insists that it’s a civil rights organization that works closely with the FBI. This article provides proof that isn’t true, stating “The Fiscal Year 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill, which passed the House on Wednesday, contains in its Committee Report (a separate public document that spells out how agencies are expected to spend the money allocated to them) a recommendation that Attorney General Eric Holder follow in the FBI’s footsteps and sever ties with CAIR”:

The committee understands that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has an existing policy prohibiting its employees from engaging in any formal non-investigative cooperation with CAIR. The committee encourages the attorney general to adopt a similar policy for all department officials.

This isn’t Fox News reporting. This is from an official House committee report saying that the FBI has severed ties with CAIR.

CAIR specializes in propaganda. That’s what they specialized in with the Dismantling Hate Crimes event. They did that even after the event was postponed. When Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota, arrived from the Twin Cities after the event was cancelled. Hussein started spreading his propaganda virtually immediately. That carried into Thursday, too.

On Thursday, Hussein said “The idea behind it was pretty large, not specifically just addressing Islamophobia. Unfortunately, as we know, Islamophobia is an issue in St. Cloud, and the postponement, I guess, was evident of that.”

He continued, saying “We are not talking to someone that has legitimate claims; we are talking to people clearly showing a racist as well as a xenophobic and white nationalist agenda. And that’s the unfortunate reality.”

What’s unfortunate is that Hussein criticized St. Cloud without a basis for his opinion. Then again, as a propagandist, his responsibility is to criticize people he knows nothing about. That’s what happened in this instance.

Hussein said Freedom Speaks Coalition is a hate group that uses anti-Muslim statements to further its agenda. He also said groups that feed into white nationalist groups are really the ones who could potentially put community members at risk.

“St. Cloud residents cannot allow for a small fringe group of haters to dominate and take over the narrative of what St. Cloud is and who it is,” Hussein said. “There should be concern about these hate groups who are creating a very unsafe environment to the point where talks like these are not taking place.

“More people, more residents need to shun and call these people for what they are — hate groups who are trying to create fear,” he continued. “And there are consequences to that type of activity.

It’s interesting that Hussein would say that. CAIR calls itself a civil rights organization. Fair enough but shouldn’t civil rights organizations fight for everyone’s civil rights, even for those organizations with which it disagrees? HINT TO HUSSEIN: This is the United States, home of the First Amendment. That means all organizations and people have the God-given right to disagree with others as long as they don’t put people’s lives in danger.

See also: MDHR commissioner decries “attempts to silence discussion”
St. Cloud hate crimes event postponed; MDHR, CAIR upset

UPDATE: The SCTimes has taken down their article on the event, leaving only a video of Marni Hockenberg leading a peaceful rally. The link has changed, too. The good news is that you can still find their article by clicking on the link in this post. I don’t know why they’ve hidden this story. If anyone gets the hardcopy version of the Times, please check the paper and let me know if the article is in that version.
UPDATE II: Now it’s back again. Go figure. All I did was email the reporter and told her that her article had disappeared.

This St. Cloud Times article reports that an event titled ‘Dismantling hate crimes’ was postponed. The SCTimes article starts by saying the “panel on dismantling hate crimes scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday was postponed over safety concerns, according to Taylor Putz, communications director for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Putz told the St. Cloud Times Wednesday afternoon that the department postponed the event due to ‘logistical concerns’ and a ‘larger public safety concern’ due to the number of people expected to attend the forum.”

That sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? How can you argue against postponing an event over “larger public safety concerns”? I’ll be the proverbial skunk at the garden party by highlighting a statement by St. Cloud Assistant Police Chief Jeff Oxton. The Times wrote that “Despite the ‘public safety concern’ cited by the human rights department, St. Cloud Assistant Police Chief Jeff Oxton said Wednesday the department received no reports of threats related to the event.

Of course, the Times used some interesting editing techniques for this story. The MNDHR concerns about the alleged “larger public safety concerns” were positioned in the first 2 paragraphs. By comparison, Jeff Oxton’s statement that no threats related to the event wasn’t found until the 16th paragraph of the Times’ article. It’s almost as if the Times wanted its readers to think that the threat was averted at the last minute. It’s as if the Times didn’t want readers to know that there weren’t any threats related to the event.

Panelists scheduled to participate were:

  1. Blair Anderson, chief, St. Cloud Police Department
  2. Jaylani Hussein, executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations
  3. Rebecca Lucero, director, Minnesota Department of Human Rights
  4. Michael Melcher, supervisory special agent, FBI
  5. Teresa Nelson, legal director, American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota

What’s interesting is that the event was scheduled for the day after the third anniversary of the terrorist attack at Crossroads Mall. Another thing that’s interesting is that the propagandists, aka CAIR-MN and ACLU of Minnesota, were afraid of people praying for the Persecuted Church.

This is smelling more and more like a setup. This article is quite illuminating:

“Hate is not a value in St. Cloud or in any part of our state. Our community deserves better,” says MDHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “I am heartbroken by the attempts to silence discussion on hate crimes. The goal of the forum was to discuss the community we want to create. One that is full of dignity and joy.”

Panelists would have had the opportunity to define hate crimes, explain criminal and civil responses and discuss prevention.

Commissioner Lucero’s statement is as phony as a $3 bill. If she thinks that 2 dozen activists praying for the Persecuted Church are a threat to the community, then that isn’t the type of community I want anything to do with. Then there’s this KSTP article:

“We remain committed to advancing a community dialogue focused on dismantling hate crimes,” Chair of the Regional Human Rights Commission Eunice Adjei said in the release. “While the decision to postpone the forum was unfortunate, we have renewed energy to ensure this community discussion takes place.”

Based on St. Cloud Assistant Police Chief Jeff Oxton’s statement, the decision to postpone didn’t have anything to do with threats received by the St. Cloud PD. The more I read about this postponement, the more I think it’s likely that this is based on fiction.

When former St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson asked if I’d publish his opinions about the current City Council’s censure of George Hontos, I immediately accepted his proposal. Here is Councilman Johnson’s op-ed to LFR:

I find the censorship of St. Cloud City Councilman George Hontos nothing short of a retaliatory witch hunt. In the eight years that I served with Mr. Hontos on the council, he has always been well prepared, extremely knowledgeable, and never afraid to ask the tough questions. I once jokingly said that George probably knows more about city matters than the rest of us councilmembers combined. He has made himself consistently available to the citizens who want to speak to him about various matters. He represents his constituents extremely well which explains why he has been re-elected over and over.

There are certainly times when it is inappropriate for a councilmember to speak out about various matters. This would include personnel matters, any time the council is in closed session to talk about legal issues (like the city getting sued) or when the council is acting as a quasi-judicial body. Mr. Hontos’ letter to the editor clearly falls well outside these parameters and it was appropriate for him to exercise his free speech rights under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution regardless if the reader finds his editorial disagreeable or not. A public official does not check his/her 1st amendment rights “at the door of public service” when taking office by swearing an oath to the Constitution. Doing so would be hypocritical and I dare say, unethical.

Council Rule No. 6, which states council members “respect the majority vote of the council, and do not undermine or sabotage implantation of ordinances, policies and rules passed by the majority.”

City Council rules and Robert’s Rules of Order do not trump state and federal law. Sadly, I personally witnessed council members during my 8 years of service repeatedly violate Council Rules and Robert’s Rules which resulted in absolute chaos. The first time or two appeared accidental however it appeared to become willful. Look no further than my refugee resettlement moratorium proposal when I had approximately 8 minutes (from the council video) to read a Welcoming Resolution that appeared out of nowhere and then vote on it during the ensuing chaos. The welcoming resolution was never scheduled in advance which is an egregious violation of council rules and good etiquette. I felt like the public … both for and against my proposed resolution … were ambushed, which can be seen in this post. It did a great disservice to the public and eroded trust in local government. To be fair to everyone and to follow council rules, I clearly announced my proposed resolution weeks in advance, so everyone had a chance to read it and voice an opinion … for and against.
It appears that history is repeating itself with George Hontos taking the brunt of trying to do the right thing. According to this September 12th article in the St. Cloud Times:

Staehling said Thursday the city did not know the council was going to make a motion to censure Hontos ahead of the meeting — and said that none of the staff can recall the last time the council made a motion to censure a council member. “It was a scramble. It wasn’t expected,” Staehling said.

The city council has unwittingly taken proactive steps to reduce transparency. The article shows that the city council may have violated open meeting laws by having a secret vote on censoring Mr. Hontos. In my mind, it’s clear that open meeting laws were violated in using the secret vote which may be appropriate for Mason membership but not for a local government body. If another councilmember votes to censor another councilmember, should not the accused have the right to know and deal directly with the accuser(s)? Clearly, the public has a right to know how their council representative voted in a highly public meeting.

I am also deeply troubled that the public forum is no longer televised. There are some people in St. Cloud that routinely watch city council meetings on the local government access channel. A good friend of mine who can no longer physically travel to city hall to watch meetings will no longer be able to watch his neighbors address the council on quality of life or other issues of interest. Accessibility has now been diminished for some of our residents.

Perhaps what saddens me the most is WE THE PEOPLE is being replaced with WE THE GOVERNMENT. Local government is supposed to provide the greatest access to WE THE PEOPLE. I served on the St. Cloud City Council because I genuinely wanted my constituents to have a better life. On some occasions, individuals came to the open forum to publicly berate me or other councilmembers. Although it was uncomfortable at times, I want them to have the freedom to do so and the TV cameras is one way to hold government (me at the time I was on the council) accountable to them.

I actively listened and tried to learn from WE THE PEOPLE to educate myself and when appropriate, change my mind to help them with various problems. British economist John Maynard Keynes once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Councilmembers should listen to learn from WE THE PEOPLE because it’s supposed to be representative government. Sadly, I saw that many councilmembers’ minds were already made up by eye rolling, looking at their watches, or clearly looking disinterested during some open forums when citizens came to address the council.

Clearly, George Hontos listens to learn and does not shy away from tough issues. We clearly need more people like him to serve in government. He should not have been censored. He should have received the coveted “Spine of Titanium” and “Grinding the Axe” awards.

Jeff Johnson
Former St. Cloud City Councilmember, 2010 – 2018

When the St. Cloud City Council voted to censure Councilman George Hontos, it may have violated Minnesota’s Open Meeting Laws. According to the article, “Mark Anfinson, an attorney for the Minnesota Newspaper Association, said the law is clear that a public body cannot vote by secret ballot.”

Needless to say, the City offered a different perspective:

In an email to the Times on Wednesday, City Administrator Matt Staehling said he, City Attorney Renee Courtney and City Clerk Seth Kauffman consulted Robert’s Rules of Order before the vote on Monday. “We agreed that the guidance recommended (that) the subject of the censure does not participate in the vote but can participate in the discussion and debate (and) the ballot should be by confidential ballot,” Staehling stated.

Robert’s Rules of Order are helpful when the law isn’t clear. In this case, Minnesota’s Open Meeting Laws are quite clear, clear enough for the Minnesota Court of Appeals to render a decision:

Anfinson cites a decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals in which the Mankato Free Press sued the city of North Mankato after the city refused to provide the names of job finalists for city administrator, conducted closed interviews with job finalists, and took a written straw vote to narrow the field of candidates; the results of that straw vote were not made public until later.

In its decision, the Court of Appeals wrote: “Secret voting denies the public an opportunity to observe the decision-making process, to know the council members’ stance on issues, and to be fully informed about the council’s actions.”

It’s one thing if the Council was voting to suspend a city employee. There are certainly times when a closed session would be required. Suspending or terminating an employee fits that situation. Telling a councilman that his First Amendment rights can be suspended by the government doesn’t fit that description.

Frankly, I want to know who voted that the City Council has the right to violate a person’s civil rights. Further, I want to know which jackasses voted to censure George Hontos. What Councilman Hontos did was entirely proper. City Council Rule No. 6, at least as much of it that is public, “states council members ‘respect the majority vote of the council, and do not undermine or sabotage implementation of ordinances, policies and rules passed by the majority.'”

That rule isn’t enforceable because it precludes a City Council member from representing his constituents by limiting his speech. How can any representative of the people effectively represent his/her constituents if he can’t voice his/her opinion on matters that’ve come before the board/legislature he/she serves on? That part of Rule No. 6 needs to be abolished because it’s unconstitutional.

Here’s the First Amendment’s text:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

How can the government stifle a person’s right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances”? The idea that the City Council insists that its members “respect the majority vote of the council” sounds nice but it doesn’t respect the rights afforded to the people by the Bill of Rights.

It’s more than a little frightening to think that St. Cloud’s lawmakers are this constitutionally illiterate. What’s encouraging is that Councilman Hontos has stated on the record for LFR that he “will continue to represent the constituents of St. Cloud as [he has] been doing for 18 years.” As long as Councilman Hontos keeps fighting for these principles, I’ll keep voting for him.

For years, conservatives have said that most decisions should be made at the local level. That’s what’s recommended by the men who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That’s because that’s where accountability is theoretically greatest.

That’s increasingly not the case. I don’t know if this is isolated but a prime example of local governments shielding themselves from criticism happens when they shut off the cameras. A prime example of this is the St. Cloud City Council turning off the cameras and officially adjourning the meeting before starting Open Forum. For those not familiar with St. Cloud’s Open Forum, it’s a segment of the meeting when citizens have the opportunity to talk about things that they see happening in their neighborhoods.

Most of these speeches complain about overreaching ordinances, complaints about things not getting done fast enough or criticisms about votes that councilmembers have taken. Suffice it to say, it isn’t fun for the councilmembers to hear these criticisms. Another ‘feature’ of St. Cloud’s Open Forum is that the City Council isn’t allowed to respond in real time to their constituents.

Where’s the accountability if the Council isn’t allowed to respond to their constituents? That’s why I’ve titled this post ‘the accountability dodge”. Based on what I’ve seen firsthand, this segment of the meeting isn’t about listening to the citizens. It’s a segment of the meeting where citizens can vent but where the councilmembers don’t have to respond.

This is just a theory but this feels like a way to avoid accountability. It’s apparent that the City Council, with a couple of exceptions (specifically, George Hontos and Paul Brandmire), would rather just meet, then cast their votes, then go their merry way. The quote from yesterday’s post that Councilman Hontos had violated City Council Rule No. 6 was particularly upsetting.

I don’t have the text of St. Cloud City Council Rule No. 6 in front of me but what I know about the Constitution is that anything that violates the First Amendment is unenforceable. Therefore, Rule No. 6 is unenforceable.

Further, I’d argue that voting on a non-binding censure resolution was a total waste of time, partially because it’s non-binding but also because this vote was taken in private session. That’s the ultimate in not accepting accountability. If City Councilmembers think this is important to vote on, they shouldn’t shut down public debate. They should vote in public, though.

That isn’t accountability. That’s the definition of gutlessness.

Free Speech: A real option or a pipe dream?
By Ramblin’ Rose

The South Dakota legislature passed HB 1087 this session, and last week, the Board of Regents approved three free speech policies for its campuses.

According to the National Review, “The bill, S.D. 1087, requires public institutions of higher education in the state to ‘maintain a commitment to the principles of free expression’ and to foster civil, intellectually diverse environments. It protects student organizations from viewpoint discrimination, requires an annual report to the legislature on campus intellectual diversity and speech suppression, and safeguards the use of outdoor spaces as forums for free speech.”

The bill was not supported by the educational system, including leaders of student government. The governor signed the bill into law in March, 2019.

The modifications approved by the Board of Regents on August 8 and 9, 2019, require:

  1. Funding for student organizations be made in a “nondiscriminatory manner.”
  2. Public universities will provide a report to the executive director of the Board of Regents about the ways in which the institutions are working to “promote and ensure intellectual diversity.”
  3. That report must also include any campus events that “impeded intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas.”

Some recent events that precipitated this legislation include:

  1. USD prohibited in 2015 of the viewing of a film on the “honor killing” of women in Islamic cultures as anti-Muslim bigotry.
  2. In 2018, university officials removed an American flag that a SDSU student had hung in his dorm to commemorate family friends who had died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  3. Last February, USD administrators “urged” a change of name for a campus “Hawaiian Day” observance because they determined it was insensitive to indigenous Hawaiians.

Political fights continue around this issue. More than two dozen states have introduced “free speech” legislation (including Minnesota); more than a dozen of those have those bills signed into law (not Minnesota).

As a skeptic, I wonder about the impact that these laws will have on campuses. Since the majority of faculty members and administrators are left-leaning liberals, will they implement the laws? Will they hire conservative faculty? Liberal professors outnumber conservatives across the nation by five to one; in the humanities and social sciences, the disparity is even greater. That affects the research that is approved/allowed and the ideologies presented as “truth” in classes. I know that students must respond as the professors want or their grades are affected. Walking the halls of institutions of higher learning, one hears the left-wing lies presented as valid facts. Students must accept and regurgitate those views or fail the courses. Young minds are susceptible, and many are quickly converted. Brave souls are dismissed or rebuked—students and faculty.

Heterodox Academy, a non-partisan collaborative of more than 2,500 professors, administrators, and graduate students, espouses that “Intellectual diversity (or viewpoint diversity) occurs when members of a community approach problems and questions from a range of perspectives. An open expressive climate exists when members of a community, regardless of their beliefs, perspectives, or other prior commitments, feel equally able to ask questions, share ideas, and otherwise participate in learning and knowledge production without risk of censure.”

I question if legislation can accomplish that when liberalism is so engrained in all levels of education and solidly in control of higher education in every state. Will the First Amendment be honored in education, or will PC dogma continue to dominate?

God help education, learners and teachers express the truth and debate differing points of view with civility.