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'College Campuses Are Not Free Speech Areas': Professor Attacks Pro-Life Students

05-11-2017
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Pro-life students at Fresno State University filed a lawsuit against a professor who destroyed the group's pro-life messages on campus.

The Students for Life group at California State University, Fresno, wrote a pro-life message in chalk on school grounds. While they had already received permission to write the message, they were shocked when one of the university's professors, Professor Gregory Thatcher, was erasing it with his foot. 

 The professor is seen on tape scrubbing the pro-life message off the sidewalk and encouraging his students to join him. 

When one of the pro-life students asked him why he was censoring an approved message, his answer shocked her. 

"The whole idea of free speech is that we have a free speech area on campus, okay?" Thatcher said even though the university eradicated "free speech zones" two years ago. "Free speech is free speech in the free speech area. It's a pretty simple concept, okay? This does not constitute a free speech area, okay?"

"College campuses are not free speech areas. Do you understand? Obviously, you don't understand," Thatcher added. 

The pro-life students responded with a lawsuit filed by Alliance Defending Freedom. 

"No university professor has the authority to roam the campus, silencing any student speech he happens to find objectionable and recruiting students to participate in this censorship," said ADF Legal Counsel Travis Barham.

"Like all government officials, professors have an obligation to respect students' free speech rights. And they should encourage all students to participate in the marketplace of ideas, rather than silencing those with whom they happen to differ. The professor's actions here represent a flagrant violation of the First Amendment," Barham said.

The lawsuit, Fresno State Students for Life v. Thatcher, explains that Professor Thatcher's decision to erase Students for Life's expression, to recruit students to help in his censorship and to harass and intimidate the group violates their fundamental right to freedom of speech.

Additionally, the complaint asks the court to block Thatcher "and any other persons acting on his behalf or at his direction from interfering, disrupting, or altering any future lawful expressive activities that Fresno Students for Life and its members conduct."

"Fresno State Students for Life received full permission to chalk pro-life messages near the library. Rather than countering with his own message, Dr. Thatcher took the illegal approach of censoring speech and inciting students to help in this," said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.

"No students should have to endure this kind of intimidation and harassment for simply expressing their views, but especially not those who want to help the women betrayed, and the pre-born children killed, by the abortion industry."
 

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