Libertarian Student Sues USC Following ‘Free Speech Zone’ Demonstration

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Joshua Cook
Joshua Cook is a writer and reporter for Truth In Media. He has interviewed many politicians including Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Walter Jones, Bob Graham, Trey Gowdy and thought leaders who shape U.S. policy. Cook is also an associate producer of the mini documentary: CDC, Vaccines and Autism. If you have any tips please email him at joshua@truthinmedia.com. Find him on Twitter @RealJoshuaCook

As previously reported by Truth In Media’s Rachel Blevins, universities in the United States are designating “Free Speech Zonesthat restrict the 1st Amendment rights of students.

In 2014, Blevins described these “Free Speech Zones” as a “designated space on campus where students can set up booths, hand out pamphlets, and host speeches concerning the things they are passionate about.”

Universities across the nation are apparently continuing to infringe on students’ 1st Amendment rights.

According to the The State newspaper, libertarian activist and University of South Carolina (USC) student Ross Abbott sued the university, claiming that the college threatened to discipline him for displaying posters on campus.

Last fall, Abbott’s student organization held a campus event which reportedly highlighted examples of censorship at various campuses. The event displayed posters that exposed 1st Amendment restrictions occurring on campuses across the United States. Despite holding the event in a designated “free speech zone,” some people complained that the posters were “offensive” and “triggering,” according to TheFire.org.

The complaints triggered a response from USC and Abbott was served with a “Notice of Charge,” an investigation was launched, and he was allegedly threatened with expulsion.

Abbot filed the lawsuit on Tuesday to preserve the rights of students to engage in freedom of expression.

Abbott told Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook, “Last I checked, the entire United States was supposed to be a ‘free speech zone.’ Trying to limit student speech to a small area of campus, especially at a public school such as ours, is not only impractical but immoral.”

“The University of South Carolina is so intolerant of free speech that students can’t even talk about free speech,” said Catherine Sevcenko, FIRE’s litigation director. “Ironically, the university’s current marketing campaign features the slogan ‘No Limits.’ But as Ross and his fellow students learned, that does not extend to their free speech rights.”

Cook asked Abbott about the reaction he’s received since he filed the lawsuit. “So far I’ve heard nothing but positive things from my peers. Even some friends from High School who I haven’t heard from in years have reached out to express their support,” said Abbott.

Abbott joins many other students who are fighting to have their voices heard on university campuses. For more information please visit the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education here to see other cases.

The lawsuit can be seen below:

Follow Joshua Cook on Facebook and Twitter.
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