Last week, Kansas University student Jaden McNeil came under fire for a crude tweet mocking convicted felon and known drug-user George Floyd, whose death has catalyzed extended riots across the nation.
Thanks in large part to the persistent efforts of free-speech advocate and America First grassroots veteran Michelle Malkin, the free speech organization FIRE has sent a strong letter to Kansas State University on behalf of student Jaden McNeil.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.
FIRE appreciates that Kansas State University is one of the few institutions in the country whose policies earn a “green light” rating from FIRE. We write today in response to the University’s statement that it is reviewing its “options” concerning KSU undergraduate Jaden McNeil’s statement on social media.
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Here is the University’s ominous response to Jaden’s tweet, suggesting possible intention to violate Jaden’s First Amendment rights:
We are launching an immediate review of the university’s options. Black Lives Matter at Kansas State University and we will continue to fight for social justice.
— K-State (@KState) June 26, 2020
And here is Jaden’s offending tweet (since deleted by Twitter)
Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!
— Jaden McNeil (@McNeilJaden)
FIRE’s letter continues, reminding Kansas State University, a public university, of its obligations under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution
While McNeil’s tweets may be deeply offensive to many, they do not fall into a category of speech unprotected by the First Amendment, which strictly limits public universities like KSU from punishing protected expression.
The letter goes on to reaffirm that there is no so-called “hate speech” exception to the free speech protections under the First Amendment. Indeed, even so-called “hate speech” that is, speech that the authorities don’t like, enjoys such protections. Read the entire statement on Michelle Malkin’s twitter feed
Exclusive: @TheFIREorg sends @KState letter reminding officials of their constitutional obligations in treatment of @JadenPMcNeil ==>"McNeil’s tweets are unquestionably protected by the First Amendment." pic.twitter.com/8dXOvwewGQ
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) June 30, 2020
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We hope that Michelle Malkin and free-speech advocates across the nation will continue to apply such pressure on Kansas State, and every public university across the nation.
This kind of advocacy works, and Kansas State must understand that it will be met with overwhelming legal ramifications if it decides to cave to the pressure of the mob and refuse Jaden, or any student, his First Amendment rights.
We will continue to cover this developing story with interest.
See our earlier coverage HERE
An earlier iteration of this report erroneously referred to Kansas State University as Kansas U.
We regret the error.