ISIS comments remove proposed Tennessee campus bill on free speech
Mar 18, 2016 04:15 AM EDT
The Tennessee Student Free Speech Protection Act, as proposed by Republican Senator Martin Daniel, would extend the rights of the First Amendment to everyone, including ISIS members recruiting for new blood on university ground. That inclusion effectively removed the bill from consideration.
Daniel of Knoxville set up a firestorm on the age-old tension between security and freedom when he was asked in the middle of his presentation if the bill would protect radicals like ISIS recruiters. Representative John DeBerry, a Democrat from Memphis, fielded the question. The Tennesseean quoted Daniel's reply as follows: "Yes. So long as it doesn't disrupt the proceedings on that campus. Yes sir. They can recruit people for any other organization or any other cause. I think it's just part of being exposed to differing viewpoints."
Minutes after Daniel's ISIS-related comments, House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee Chairman Mark White, R-Germantown, removed the bill from further consideration.
In its backgrounder, Yahoo News reports that Daniel's bill was part of an overall strategy by the GOP to temper overzealous actions made in behalf of certain ideologies that had violated constitutional freedoms. The University of Tennessee in particular had come under fire recently because some of its officers had championed the use of gender-free pronouns and the abolition of holiday-themed parties on campus. A court also found it guilty of discrimination in 2010 for prohibiting a Christian minister to hold a talk.
Deberry, however, said that Daniel's proposed bill had gone beyond safety parameters. He said, "You can't have a nation and keep it safe and keep it sane unless there are some rules and some norms."
A day after the hearing, Daniel released a statement saying that he fundamentally disagrees with ISIS' ideology and without hesitation condemns its terrorist acts. As reported by Local8Now, Daniel also clarified his stand, saying that he extends free speech rights to everyone, in so far as it does not lead to the creation of "an imminent threat to anyone, including [the] country."