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Dem Congressman to propose crackdown on campus 'hate speech'

September 6, 2017
In The News

A U.S. Representative from Maryland recently announced that he is planning to introduce legislation to police “hate speech” on college campuses.

According to The Diamondback, Representative Anthony Brown (D) announced plans at the University of Maryland to introduce the bill to fight hate speech and hate crimes, explaining that it would require public colleges and universities to have programs and initiatives that define for students "what is acceptable speech and what is not acceptable speech."

Brown added that to “take away any excuse,” for an institution to not implement these programs aimed at defining hate speech, the government would give the institutions grant money.

Brown also said that he thinks there is a strong correlation between the election of President Trump and the increases in racism and anger that he claims are happening in portions of the white community.

The bill will also prohibit federal funds from going to a public college or university unless it proves to the Secretary of Education that it has “adopted and implemented a program to prevent and adequately respond to hate crimes within the jurisdiction of the institution or by students and employees,” according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

Diverse Issues talked to the UMD President Wallace Loh, who claimed that “fighting words” are not protected according to Supreme Court rulings in the past.

“The problem—in my view—is that the term ‘fighting words’ has been interpreted so narrowly it has to be an immediate threat of violence,” said Loh.

Additionally, Loh said that over the course of this year, officials on campus will review policies pertaining to hate speech, and possibly raise the punishments for such infractions.

Steven Clark, President of the UMD College Republicans, told Campus Reform that he thinks concern over hate speech is a way to not just silence hateful speech, but even speech that someone might simply disagree with politically.

“For example, speaking out against illegal immigration is considered hate speech on some college campuses,” Clark noted, adding that “the term 'hate speech' is very broad and if this bill were to pass it could lead us down a slippery slope where the majority gets to control the speech of the minority.”

Clark also drew a comparison between Germany and the United States, saying that unlike Germany, the U.S. does not have the power to regulate speech.

“The government should never have the power to silence speech, even speech that is widely condemned,” he argued. “The answer to combating ‘hate speech’ is to fight back with more speech. We should all use our right to free speech to speak out against voices of hate and make clear that while it may be your right, what you advocate for will never be accepted in our country."

Campus Reform reached out to Rep. Brown, but did not receive a response in time for publication.