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Free Speech on Campus and the Right to Hunt and Fish: Friday’s Show (May 29, 2015)

A young Blinn College student named Nicole Sanders wanted to start a student organization to advocate for gun rights on the Brenham campus. She was told she could only “engage in expressive activity” in a designated “free speech zone,” which is roughly the size of a parking spot. Add this to other “free speech” questions […]

A young Blinn College student named Nicole Sanders wanted to start a student organization to advocate for gun rights on the Brenham campus. She was told she could only “engage in expressive activity” in a designated “free speech zone,” which is roughly the size of a parking spot.

Add this to other “free speech” questions and controversies the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) notes are popping up on campuses nationwide of late, including a University of Tulsa student suspended because of his husband’s Facebook posts, and a George Washington University student suspended for displaying a swastika.

Free expression and public protests often first bubble up on campuses. That’s why some colleges have policies like “speaker’s circles” or “free speech zones” — to establish safe and clearly designated spaces for such expression to be conducted without disrupting classes and other campus activities.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we consider whether some policies, like anti-harassment requirements, ultimately serve that purpose, or go too far.

We talk it over with Will Creeley, FIRE’s Vice President of Legal & Public Advocacy, and Josh Blackman, assistant professor of law at the South Texas College of Law.

Then: Last week, Texas lawmakers approved a proposed state constitutional amendment to protect Texans’ right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife. It’ll be up to voters to ratify SJR 22 in November. Nearly 20 other states have approved similar amendments to their state constitutions.

Supporters, including the Texas State Rifle Association, say it protects Texas’ heritage from lawsuits and other legal challenges. Opponents say supporters are overstating the perceived threat to these activities, and that hunting and fishing are recreational pastimes that don’t belong in the state Constitution.

Houston Matters’ Maggie Martin talks with Doug DuBois, Executive Director of the Texas State Rifle Association, who supports the resolution, and State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, who supports hunting and fishing but doesn’t think they require state constitutional protection. (For that reason, he voted “present, not voting” during last week’s debate in the House).

Also this hour, we talk with our rotating panel of “non-experts” about The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly in this week’s news. Charles Kuffner, Ty Mahany and Loris Simon discuss this week’s floods, developments in the Texas Legislature and the financial value of a business’s social media presence.

And we hear from the man behind a the MFAH’s new, interactive Shadow Monsters exhibit, which projects a shadow image of visitors on a wall, then creates computer-generated monsters that reflect their shape.

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