Our First Amendment is pretty darn clear. Still, there are many who don’t seem to understand it. We don’t need permission to speak freely. We don’t need permission to assemble, to petition the government or to worship yet, still, all of the aforementioned activities are endangered and, in some instances, forbidden by government.
Recently, some students at DuPage University in Illinois were threatened with arrest for doing nothing more than collecting signatures for a petition to urge the university to adopt a speech code that allows for free speech.
Now, it’s easy to see why such a petition is necessary…
Two students were on campus with an adviser from Turning Point USA, a conservative advocacy organization. They were handing-out pocket Constitutions to remind students of their rights.
Suddenly, they were accosted by a police officer who informed them that they needed a permit in order to engage in free speech.
“You go to the Student Life office, and they give you a permit to do so,” the officer scolded.
When the Turning Point USA advocate politely reminded that students have a right to First Amendment protections on the public university’s campus, the officer amazingly claimed that the issue had nothing to do with free speech.
“It’s not free speech, ma’am,” the officer said. “Nobody’s stopping you from free speech, but you can’t solicit out here, and basically you are — you’re soliciting your opinions. Okay? And you need to go get a permit.”
That’s cute- “You’re not speaking freely, you’re advertising the idea of freedom and that’s against the rules!”
The students questioned if what they were doing was against the law, but the officer threatened to arrest them if they continued.
“Why don’t you go talk to Student Life? But you can’t do it out here, otherwise I’m going to have to lock you up. I don’t want it to come to that. Like I said, I want you to go in to Student Life,” the officer said.
One of the students claimed that they had encountered similar resistance in the past as they have tried to organize a conservative group on campus.
“They told us that we need three members and a full-time faculty advisor, but they wouldn’t let us clipboard.” the student, Joseph Enders, claimed.
Let’s be very clear: “free speech” is not free speech if one needs a permit; “freedom of religion” is not freedom if exercising one’s faith gets them locked-up. A background check is an infringement and a blanket warrant to monitor the phone usage of 300+ million Americans is a warrantless search and a seizure if such data is stored.
Our rights and our freedoms are being chipped-away with astonishing speed and it is upon all of us to stop it.
These students are doing the right thing and while the officer was just trying to do his job, his duty is to the Constitution first and it is unconscionable that he would be complicit in the squashing of essential liberties that he has sworn to protect.