Jeff Sessions Wades Into Debates Over Campus and NFL Speech

Sep 28, 2017, 00:20
Jeff Sessions Wades Into Debates Over Campus and NFL Speech

Jeff Sessions, the US Attorney General, vowed on Tuesday to aggressively crack down on political correctness at American universities, saying free speech was "under attack".

Sessions defended Trump's controversial remarks as he criticized college speech policies during an address at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Notably, Sessions gave the speech on the same day the DOJ filed [press release] a Statement of Interest [text] in a lawsuit related to "free speech zones" at Georgia Gwinnett College in Georgia. University administrators, Sessions said, are letting protesters silence minority viewpoints.

Before we get into what actually happened during the speech, let's take time to appreciate the irony of the fact that his boss, Donald Trump, is now attacking National Football League and NBA players who are exercising their First Amendment freedoms. The students alleged that the college restricted their right to practice free speech. He then added, "it's not a contradiction".

Campus speech codes have come under frequent attack in recent years by conservative groups who say the rules tend to enforce a predominately liberal orthodoxy on the nation's campuses.

"We, the disinvited, find it extraordinarily hypocritical that AG Sessions would lecture future attorneys about the importance of free speech on campus while actively excluding the wider student body", the statement read.

He cited instances on college campuses that he claimed were either a violation of students' freedom of speech - like students who were arrested in MI for passing out copies of the Constitution - or a university's attempt to shut down diversity of thought.

But students said the event ran contrary to the values it purported to advance given that Sessions only answered pre-selected questions submitted by a limited audience.

On Tuesday, about 100 protestors gathered in front of the law school, some with duct tape on their mouths and carrying signs critical of Sessions, according to The Washington Post.

Sessions decried the actions of protesters, whom he referenced as part of an increasing "cottage industry" against free speech.

"They can make their protest any other place". At Berkley, mass protest erupted surrounding the conservative speakers who were set to lead the campus's "Free Speech Week". "In the wake of #TakeTheKnee, I find it not only disingenuous but nearly laughable that Attorney General Sessions or anyone from this administration could truthfully speak as an authority on protections of free speech". You know the veto by the heckler who threatens to protest and disrupt the speech so the college may withdraw the speaker's invitation so they won't be a disturbance. And Barnett and his organization, of course, are perfectly within their rights to designate a given event as invitation-only or otherwise limit access, particularly where, as here, demand is likely to quickly outpace supply.

Throughout his remarks, Sessions, who has come under fire in the past for extreme anti-immigrant and potentially Islamophobic rhetoric, repeatedly highlighted democracy and free speech as not just quintessentially, but exclusively, American concepts. Given limited capacity, she said, the school's policy has held that the hosting organization determines the guest list.

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