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  • Writer's pictureArizona House Democrats

Legislative Republicans Attack Arizona State University and Faculty Rights to Free Speech

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 18, 2023


PHOENIXLegislative Democrats condemned the outlandish political theater Legislative Republicans displayed today during the Joint Legislative Ad Hoc Committee on Freedom of Expression at Arizona’s Public Universities. The ongoing passion project of attacking our public education institutions has become an alarming regularity for the radical right-wing at the legislature that ironically brands themselves as “the Freedom Caucus.”


The Democratic Committee Members released the following joint statement:


“After the five-hour committee hearing today, it is clear that no one's freedom of speech was infringed in any way at Arizona State University. The T.W. Lewis Center event in question went on as planned, there was no effort to stop it, and the Center’s administrator's position was eliminated when T.W. Lewis withdrew his funding for the center.


We stand in support of the First Amendment and ASU's Barrett, the Honors College faculty who expressed concern about the T.W. Lewis Center’s platforming of divisive far-right provocateurs in the name of intellectual discourse. Their letter questioned the decision making and mission of the Center but did not attempt to stop the event or silence its speakers. Just as the speakers had a right to exercise of their First Amendment rights, these faculty members had an equal right to speak. The irony of hosting a legislative hearing to judge one person’s speech as appropriate over another’s speech is not lost on us. We fear that the real consequence of this hearing will be the chilling of future speech of faculty members who will fear being dragged before a legislative committee to defend their own constitutional right.


Since sending their letter, the authors (particularly those of color, Jewish or LGBTQ) have been added to a 'watch list' by right-wing bloggers and subsequently many have been doxed and endured targeted threats and harassment. Today's hearing was an extension and continuation of that harassment. The only First Amendment rights that have been impacted are those of Barrett faculty who spoke out about the College platforming and legitimizing extremists, conspiracy theorists and merchants of misinformation.”


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