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ACR-76 Freedom of speech: institutions of higher education.(2013-2014)

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Amended  IN  Assembly  August 30, 2013

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2013–2014 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 76


Introduced by Assembly Member Lowenthal
(Coauthor: Senator Monning)

August 15, 2013


Relative to freedom of speech at institutions of higher education.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


ACR 76, as amended, Lowenthal. Freedom of speech: institutions of higher education.
This measure would recognize the importance of the right of freedom of speech, would condemn biased, hurtful, and dangerous speech intended to stoke fear and intimidation in its listeners, as specified, and would encourage public postsecondary educational institutions to ensure that they provide a safe, encouraging environment for exercising the right of freedom of speech.
Fiscal Committee: NO  

WHEREAS, The people of the United States enjoy a long history of the right to freedom of speech and the ability to engage in vigorous political debate, and nowhere is this better exhibited than in California; and
WHEREAS, Free speech is the cornerstone of American culture and the American political system, and it is therefore no coincidence that this freedom is enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and in Article I of the California Constitution; and
WHEREAS, California’s college campuses are forums for the sharing and discussion of diverse and sometimes competing ideas and opinions, and they provide an ideal setting for interactions among diverse student populations of differing identities, heritages, and persuasions; and
WHEREAS, Of all environments, college campuses should be safe harbors for fair and reasoned debate that invites the views and voices of all Americans, including conservatives and liberals alike, people of faith and nonbelievers alike, or any other combination of people whose ideas may differ, but who can and will respect each other’s constitutional right to free speech; and
WHEREAS, Speech critical of an idea or opinion does not always equate to criticism of the individual, just as speech that condemns a government policy does not implicitly condemn a government’s citizenry, nor is speech critical of a religious organization inherently critical of a faith or its followers; and
WHEREAS, Unfortunately, college campuses are also sometimes home to some of the most vitriolic speech directed at individuals; and
WHEREAS, Freedom of speech sometimes requires that society tolerate the intolerant, but not without limitation; and
WHEREAS, A positive response to intolerance is for fair-minded, decent men and women of all political persuasions to exercise their own constitutionally protected right to free speech to condemn biased, hurtful, and dangerous speech that is intended to stoke fear and intimidation in its listeners, including speech that promotes discrimination based on a protected characteristic, such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation and identity, medical condition, and political activities or affiliations; and
WHEREAS, It is incumbent upon students, professors, administrators, and other school officials at all campuses across the state to create a safe and enriching learning environment for all students that protects and encourages an individual’s right to free speech; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That the Legislature recognizes the supreme importance of the right to freedom of speech, as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and its rightful place on college campuses as a mechanism for the sharing and discussion of diverse ideas and opinions, including those that challenge a person to consider the merits of his or her own positions; and be it further
Resolved, That the Legislature hereby condemns biased, hurtful, and dangerous speech intended to stoke fear and intimidation in its listeners, including speech that promotes discrimination based on a protected characteristic, such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation and identity, medical condition, or political activities or affiliations; and be it further
Resolved, That the Legislature encourages public postsecondary institutions to ensure that they provide a safe, encouraging environment for exercising the right to freedom of speech and for the vibrant discussion of ideas and opinions from people of all walks of life; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.