MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- A mid-state First Amendment scholar says if Congress wants to promote free speech on college campuses, legislation isn’t the answer.
Ken Paulson is the Dean of Middle Tennessee State’s College of Media and Entertainment. He’s also President of the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center.
Paulson was on Capitol Hill Wednesday to testify before the House Education Committee about campus free speech issues. The hearing came in response to recent, high-profile free speech clashes at public universities.
Wisconsin Rep. Glenn Grothman expressed the concerns of some Republican committee members, noting a study that indicates most college professors are Democrats.
“One of the problems that we have on campuses is if our campuses don’t look like America. We create an atmosphere that encourages stifling of speech; encourages an envirnoment of hatred and small-mindedness.”
Dean Paulson countered that free speech is alive and well at 99 percent of the nation’s public schools. He emphasized repeatedly that “legislation isn’t the key.” Paulson suggested instead that American children get early and ongoing civics instruction.
“If we could address these issues early on, we’ll have a new generation that gets the purpose of free speech and we’re not going to have the dramatic confrontations and legislatures will not have to step in.”
Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe sits on the House Education Committee. Roe says he was shocked to hear Dean Paulson say that only two percent of Americans can name all five of their First Amendment Rights.
Dr. Roe says he was pleased to learn that the campus free speech law Tennessee lawmakers passed this year is one of the strongest in the nation.
EDITORS NOTE: WMOT is owned and operated by Middle Tennessee State University. The station is housed in the College of Media and Entertainment where Ken Paulson serves as Dean.