Students at Dixie State University in the southwest corner of Utah have sued the school, claiming several First Amendment violations.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonprofit civil rights group, is assisting the students in the federal lawsuit.
The suing students are members of the Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian campus group. They created flyers to hang amid the sea of flyers on campus bulletin boards. The flyers negatively portrayed Presidents George W. Bush, a Republican; President Barack Obama, a Democrat; and Che Guevara, a wealthy, brutal Cuban communist. (You can see the flyers below.)
Officials at Dixie State, a public school, refused to approve the flyers because, they declared, the posters “disparage” the two presidents and the dead revolutionary.
The taxpayer-funded school’s policy concerning flyers mandates that students’ display material “may not single out any individual group(s) or entities in a derogatory manner.”
Material must also “be in good taste,” the policy states. Bizarrely, the policy blames the Federal Communications Commission for this part.
The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate communications transmitted by radio, television, satellite, cable and other means. It has no jurisdiction over a flyer placed on a bulletin board in Utah by a student in Utah.
Here are the three flyers that school officials deemed too offensive for publicly-funded billboards:
“Dixie State is a public university bound by the First Amendment, and the First Amendment is quite clear that you have the unequivocal right to criticize or mock political figures,” FIRE president and CEO Greg Lukianoff said in a press release obtained by The Daily Caller. “One has to wonder how Dixie State students can engage in serious political discussions — or any discussion at all — when they are forced to follow the university’s ridiculous policies.”
Lukianoff said that Dixie State’s speech policies also forbid posters in residence halls which administrators believe might cause an ‘uncomfortable’ environment.”
The free speech advocate also noted a separate incident when Young Americans for Liberty was allowed to erect its free speech wall in a tiny “free speech zone” on campus. Dixie State campus police spent approximately half an hour scrutinizing the free speech wall for “hate speech.”
In the fall, FIRE notified over 300 public colleges and universities that their campus speech codes are blatantly unconstitutional. Dixie State was among the schools.
Earlier this year, in January, a federal judge ordered bureaucrats at a Chicago-area community college to stop ignoring the First Amendment and allow a stridently anti-gay group to distribute leaflets on campus. The judge agreed that leaflets violated anti-bias policies at Waubonsee Community College. The problem, the Clinton appointee observed, is that the anti-bias polices are obviously unconstitutional. (RELATED: Community College Bureaucrats SHOCKED To Learn First Amendment Totally Applies To Them)
FIRE still has plenty of work to ahead, though.
In October 2014, officials and campus cops at Southern Oregon University threatened to call the police on a group of four students who were distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution outside the designated “free speech zone.” (RELATED: Public University Cracks Down On Students Handing Out Constitution)
A few months earlier, Michael Yaki, a Democrat on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, called for campus restrictions on First Amendment-protected speech because, he believes, the still-developing brains of college students cannot properly process certain dangerous ideas. (RELATED: Democrat On U.S. Civil Rights Commission Wants Speech Codes For ‘Adolescent’ 21-Year-Olds)