Thumbs-down to stifling free speech.
Just as important as protecting popular opinion under the First Amendment is protecting unpopular opinion, a notion that Waubonsee Community College became all too familiar with last week, when the college settled a federal free speech lawsuit for $132,000.
The school violated the freedom-of-speech rights of Wayne Lela and John McCartney when it denied the on-campus distribution of fliers by anti-gay group members that raise awareness of what they believe are the moral and health dangers of homosexual intercourse.
Although we oppose Waubonsee’s restriction of free speech, we are empathetic toward the school’s desire to avert on-campus discrimination.
It’s worth noting, as U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman issued an opinion that “Allowing plaintiffs to exercise their First Amendment rights on WCC’s campus does not amount to the college endorsing [the] plaintiff’s views or speech.”
Even if some may consider a message to be hate speech, it’s still protected speech.