Latest from Rutgers: There is no such thing as ‘free speech’

Latest from Rutgers: There is no such thing as ‘free speech’

Rutgers, New Jersey’s state university, has been in the headlines repeatedly of late for outrageous statements made by members of its faculty (e.g., “There are no good white people, only less bad white people”).

Clearly, all of this has just been intellectual foreplay on the part of the school’s administrators, who wouldn’t hire people espousing such indefensible and incendiary views if they didn’t share them themselves. That they do has become evident in the publication on the dean of students’ web page of a list of five caveats courtesy of the school’s Bias Prevention & Education Committee (BPEC).

The first admonition — to “think before you speak” —  is followed by the advice that “there is no such thing as ‘free’ speech. All speech has a cost and consequences.”

Obviously, the scare quotes around the word free are meant to show that the BPEC and dean of students have an awareness of the First Amendment and that they are referring to something else. But if so, what? The U.S. Supreme Court has heard hundreds of cases that test the reach of the First Amendment, including the “cost and consequences” of using obscenities and other emotionally charged language. Ultimately, saying “there is no such thing as ‘free’ speech” is no different from the same declaration minus the quotation marks — which is demonstrably false.

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The rest of the caveats are equally mindless, parroting politically correct bromides about rights and freedoms. Some of what is presented is downright pernicious. Following the admonition to “be open” and “embrace your fellow students’ racial, ethnic, religious, political, sexual orientation, class, age, ability, and gender differences” is an open call for snitches and an appeal to blind authority:

If you experience or witness an act of bias or hate, report it to someone in authority. You may file a report on line at and you will be contacted within 24 hours.

Clicking the link does not take you to a new page but merely refreshes the page you are on. In other words, there is nowhere to file a report, but you have to wonder if they really want anyone to do this. If there were such an option, someone might file a bias report against Rutgers’s own Professor Brittney Cooper, who has written that the God Christian conservatives worship is “an a**hole” and a “white supremacist.”

The irony in all of this is that Rutgers fancies itself a champion of tolerance and fairness, when in fact a list like this is a warning — and a stern one at that — to students to follow lockstep its liberal prescriptions or pay the price. This is coming, moreover, from a state school, which is at least in part taxpayer-funded.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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