FIRE Blasts MSU Student Gov. for Attempted First Amendment Violations
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Contributor: Jack Carlson
After offensive and racist comments were made in a forum with MSU’s President, MSU’s student government sought legal action.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) condemned their attempt to work with MSU Police to launch an investigation.
Following the controversy at the “Ask President Stanley” Q&A session, MSU Police have announced they will not be investigating the IP addresses linked to the comments.
This announcement comes after FIRE sent a letter to MSU police and the student government, the Associated Students of Michigan State University, condemning the decision to investigate IP addresses, stating the comments were “protected by the First Amendment.”
FIRE is a non-profit organized around protecting First Amendment rights on college campuses.
The comments, which were sent over the platform “Slido,” were anonymous. FIRE argued, “efforts by government officials” to reveal the identities behind the racist comments, “must meet First Amendment scrutiny.” FIRE added, “none of the publicly-identified anonymous comments fall into any exception to the First Amendment.”
FIRE told The Morning Watch in a statement:
“FIRE is pleased that the MSU Police Department acted expeditiously to clarify that they had not sought, and will not seek, to uncover the identities of the anonymous commentators. The First Amendment protects both the right to speak anonymously as well as speech that others find deeply offensive.”
MSU Police pronounced they did not, in fact, intend to investigate the IP addresses.
In a response to FIRE, MSU police stated the person who had told ASMSU the police would investigate the controversy “does not represent our office,” adding “we quickly determined it was not criminal in nature.”
Like other anonymous and hateful comments, FIRE argued, those which were made at the Stanley event were indeed protected by the First Amendment.
Addressing these revelations, ASMSU's President, Mario Kakos, announced the investigation into the identity of the IP addresses will not be pursued 'based on free speech.'
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