ACLU keynote speaker to address First Amendment rights in colleges

Greg Burton, a local affiliate representative of the ACLU of Northern California, says that censorship is wrong. Photo credit: Gabriel Sandoval

Greg Burton, a local affiliate representative of the ACLU of Northern California, says that censorship is wrong. Photo credit: Gabriel Sandoval


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Two nonprofit organizations that advocate for civil liberties will come together and host a free event Friday, Jan. 29 in the Bell Memorial Union, where a keynote speaker will address constitutional rights on campus.

The groups — the Wildcat Civil Liberties Union, a student club and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, Chico Chapter — plan to meet in the BMU in room 008 for the event. Stephen Sherlock, a Chico State political science professor and the event’s keynote speaker, will discuss First Amendment rights on college and university campuses.

“Censorship, using politically correct methods to silence protests is wrong, even though what somebody is saying is inappropriate and offends people,” said Greg Burton, a local affiliate representative of the ACLU of Northern California.

Protests over racism and intolerance on campuses nationwide have recently generated serious debates over the actual limits of free speech. The University of Missouri was ground zero for this last year after Melissa Click, a communications professor, challenged the First Amendment rights of a student photographer who was taking pictures of a protest. She asked for “some muscle” to remove him.

Click, the professor shown in a YouTube video gone viral, was charged on Monday for misdemeanor assault, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

While some scholars may be encroaching, Burton said others are being encroached upon.

“Professors have been fired for what they’ve been saying,” Burton said. “I could probably send you 10 links to 10 people who’ve been fired just for telling what they think is the truth.”

But those firings may be justified, observers have said. That’s because a few professors maintain the Holocaust was a hoax, the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre didn’t happen and 9/11 didn’t either.

Burton said this is all right because the truth always prevails.

“We’re talking about a free marketplace of ideas,” he said.

The event runs from 5-7 p.m.

Gabriel Sandoval can be reached at [email protected] or @GLuisSandoval on Twitter.

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