As tensions at the University of Missouri continue to rage, the college’s police department has sent a new email to students advising them to call the police if they witness any incidents of “hurtful speech.”
The email arrived in the inboxes of Missouri students Tuesday morning, and copies of it were quickly posted on Twitter.MU’s police essentially tell students to make a criminal report of any hurtful behaviors (complete with license plate numbers, photos, and more), even though they freely acknowledge that hurtful speech is not a crime. But the email says that doesn’t matter, because the school could still take disciplinary action against students.
Missouri officials may be overreaching tremendously, though. As a public university, the University of Missouri is bound by the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to free speech. Court rulings on such matters have repeatedly held that public colleges cannot punish students for otherwise legal speech and expression they engage in outside of class.
The email continues what has become a chilly environment for free speech and expression at MU. A viral video posted Monday circulated on the web showing a gang of students, led by communications professor Melissa Click, attacking a cameraman attempting to cover on-campus protests in a public area. (RELATED: Meet The Mizzou Professor Who Threatened A Report With Mob Violence)
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