December 5, 2006

Flags, freedom of speech, and universities

The San Francisco State Associated Students board passed a resolution against the College Republicans for purposefully stomping on flags with the Arabic word for God on them. (Hat tip Volokh)I am a full supporter of flag desecration of any kind and of any flag being generally legal under the First Amendment. When it comes to university campuses, both public and private, however, the rules about free speech get very confusing to me. My general understanding is that universities, as either private entities or pulbic organizations of learning, can adopt regulations that provide additional curbs on freedom of speech specifically so that intimidation of other students' views are avoided. In the normal public sphere, you are allowed a certain level of intimidation as long as it doesn't turn into specific threats. That is not necessarily true on college campuses, so it would seem that if there is a stipulation in SF State's regulations against intellectual intimidation, this resolution may be valid. That doesn't mean I like it.