Via The Daily Caller:
Opinion from Peter Bonilla
Assistant Director, FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program
When someone complained about a student’s Ron Paul poster in his dorm room window this fall, Auburn University in Alabama had the opportunity to take a principled stand for free speech. Of course, since we’re dealing with a university, you can probably guess that it instead chose to double down on an unwise, needlessly restrictive, and unfairly enforced policy at odds with the spirit of the First Amendment.
Auburn undergrad Eric Philips probably thought he wasn’t doing anything particularly noteworthy when he hung a banner supporting Representative Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy in his residence hall window. ’Tis the eve of election season, after all. On November 7, however, Philips’s hall director ordered Philips to remove the banner from his window — an order with which Philips complied. A housing administrator explained to Philips Auburn’s policy (new this year) on window postings, which states that “Hanging or displaying items such as flags, banners, decals, or signs out of or obstructing residence hall windows is prohibited.”
One might describe this policy as restrictive and unnecessary, but at least it’s fair. Everyone gets silenced equally, right? Yet FIRE has photos (provided by Philips) which convincingly show that Auburn generally made little effort to enforce this policy. And why would it? It’s a pointless policy that almost seems intended to annoy students. Hanging signs in dorm room windows is standard fare on college campuses across America.
But in this case it’s difficult not to come to the conclusion that Philips was discriminated against because someone who didn’t like Ron Paul complained about it. After all, why else would Philips’s banner be targeted while numerous others remained unmolested?