Conservatives in the Texas Legislature, sick of seeing unruly mobs silencing conservative speakers on college campuses, sometimes through violence, are on the verge of approving the toughest 'free speech protection' law in the country.
State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park), who was himself shouted down due to his conservative viewpoint at Texas Southern University, authored the bill, which requires all state colleges to open all of the outdoor parts of their campuses to groups of all descriptions to speak openly and set up tables to distribute literature.
"The goal is to protect the right to speech and freedom of expression," Cain said.
The law will require some changes by several Texas colleges. The entire University of Texas system, for example, restricts all speech to certain designed outdoor areas. That would have to be replaced if the law is finally pased and signed by Gov. Abbott, which is expected.
Several students at U.T. Austin complained during the hearings that pro life groups are routinely denied the right to set up tables and distribute literature, usually by campus bureaucrats using bogus excuses like 'its for the safety of the students' or the proposed literature table would 'block the sidewalk,' while at the same time, one student said you can't walk for five minutes through the Austin campus without 'running to a Planned Parenthood table and people loudly solicitIng for donations.'
Each campus would be required to have an approved 'free speech policy' in place by August 1, 2020.
And Cain added an amendment which adds new teeth to the bill.
"This amendment prohibits the institution from cancelling an invited speaker after they have invited them," he said.
There have been numerous instances at college campuses, including the one invoving Cain himself, where protesters used what is called a 'heckler's veto' to shout down conservative speakers, making it impossible for them to be heard. Under this law, campuses would have to take 'affirmative steps' to make sure that doesn't happen, or face financial penalties.
One conservative lawmaker said the law perfectly defines the difference between conservatives and liberals in the marketplace of ideas.
"When they have the power, they use it to shut down conservative speech," she said. "Here in the Legislature, where conservative have the power, we use it to encourage everybody to speak."