In the same way that a quality product sells well, good ideas prevail in the metaphorical thought “market.” In this “market of ideas,” you, the consumer, are free to weigh the pros and cons of competing ideas to make the best choice. While a physical product is exchanged for actual money, thinkers can barter for your “buy in.” But what if that choice—the ability to hear a different perspective—is taken away from you?
This is happening on college campuses, where administrators reserve the right to pick and choose the ideas available on the market by instituting “Free Speech Zones.” A “Free Speech Zone” is a defined area on campus where college students are allowed to speak freely… as long as they stay inside the lines.
Because, you know, besides those loan papers, administrators now want you to also sign away your First Amendment rights.
Not so for Ohio college students at Columbus State Community College, at least not anymore. In a victory for free speech, the college has reached a settlement with Alliance Defending Freedom, and abolished its Free Speech Zones altogether.
Here’s how it happened: Spencer Anderson wanted to hand out fliers about his new pro-life club, but school administrators required that he receive their permission 48 hours in advance. Then, after reviewing the fliers he planned to distribute, the school administrators placed him the in the smallest of the two Free Speech Zones on campus—a space of 800 square feet or about 0.02% of the total campus. But Spencer noticed that other groups, one advocating for animal rights and another for student diversity, had free reign to distribute fliers anywhere on campus.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit to protect Spencer’s First Amendment rights to free speech and equal treatment, and the college quickly changed their policy to completely remove the Free Speech Zones. Under the revised policies, students and the public are now free to express their views on any area of the campus without asking permission first.
As more and more victories for free speech are won across college campuses, we’re confident that when the Truth is freely available in the market place of ideas, we will see that Truth shape the culture and change lives.