Student criticized Planned Parenthood event
A free speech group is asking a Texas community college to stop censoring a pro-life student who criticized an event with Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion vendor.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression gave McLennan Community College in Waco until Friday to respond to concerns that the school is censoring pro-life student Madison Evans.
An arm of the community college posted on its Instagram account for the Campus Resources Education Web about an upcoming event that included Planned Parenthood. Evans wrote, “the murder of innocent babies is not a great resource ever. as a student i am disappointed & disgusted that murder of innocent lives is being encouraged.” An administrator of the account deleted her comment, according to FIRE’s letter.
An administrator reaffirmed the university’s position that it can delete comments it does not like in a meeting the next day on Oct. 18. “MCC’s social media accounts are not appropriate platforms for expressing concerns about the values of another community organization,” Associate Director of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Norman told Evans, as reported by FIRE.
That is not correct, according to FIRE.
The civil liberties group stated:
But that view does not comport with the First Amendment, to which public colleges must adhere. When government officials including public college administrators create forums for open discussion, whether in-person or online, the First Amendment restrains the regulation of speech within the forum. Among other things, viewpoint discrimination is forbidden, as established in longstanding precedent.
The group noted a federal court has previously ruled a Facebook page for a county board constituted a public forum.
FIRE said Evan’s comment “was relevant engagement with the Instagram post that Planned Parenthood was coming to campus to connect with students, and CREW’s decision to delete the comment silenced that part of the discourse surrounding this contentious political and cultural debate.”
“CREW’s Instagram administrators’ selective removal of Evans’ critical yet relevant comment is textbook viewpoint discrimination,” the letter stated.
University officials “may not suppress disfavored views when moderating social media commentary on accounts open to public posts.”
“Nothing in the law requires public colleges to manage an Instagram account, but the law does impose obligations when they choose to do so.”
Editor’s note: The name of the specific college entity that posted about a Planned Parenthood event has been added into the story.