Texas "Cocks-Not-Glocks" Protest Raises Free Speech Issues

"Cocks-Not-Glocks" Protest on the Austin Campus of the University of Texas Threatens Academic Freedom, But Faculty Seems Strangely Silent
 
 
Cocks-Not-Glocks Protest Asks - Why OK Deadly Weapons But Ban Friendly Weapons
Cocks-Not-Glocks Protest Asks - Why OK Deadly Weapons But Ban Friendly Weapons
 
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WASHINGTON - Aug. 25, 2016 - PRLog -- "Cocks Not Glocks," which is billed as the largest anti-gun rally in Texas, has been erected on the Austin campus of the University of Texas with hundreds of students waiving dildos to protest a new gun campus-carry law.

        Although the protest concerns whether the right to bear arms should extend to colleges, it's not the Second Amendment that is at stake, but rather the First Amendment and academic freedom.

        To express their hostility towards the law, hundreds of students protesters are dramatizing their opposition by carrying large dildos. They raise the question: Would UT really expel a student for displaying a dildo while nevertheless permitting students to carry lethal weapons?

        The dildo displays are designed to illustrate the illogic of permitting deadly weapons on campus while prohibiting what some have called "friendly weapons." A Texas statute, and the UT regulation apparently based upon it, prohibits the display of "obscene devices."

        The protesters said they had feared arrests or university discipline.

        And indeed, a legal website reported that UT-Austin's vice chancellor said he faced a "dilemma," and wouldn't speculate on how he would handle the protest once it began. "We do try to tolerate a good deal of free speech on campus," he said.

        But if that's the case - if the campus tolerates a "good deal of free speech," or even accords students only the bare minimum required by the First Amendment - he should not face any "dilemma."

        Displaying dildos as part of a lawful campus protest is very clearly free speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

        Moreover, free speech is something to be revered, not just "tolerated," he says, especially at a university. Texans should be very concerned that professors at the school seem to be standing idly by.

        If law professors don't see a clear threat to free speech and academic freedom and speak out about it, it's no wonder that the chancellor is so confused, and that free speech is just "tolerated."

        Displaying dildos shouldn't create a "dilemma" for anyone familiar with First Amendment law.

        The Supreme Court has held that protesters have a constitutional right to make their point by displaying many upsetting things, including swastikas, burning American flags, and even flaming KKK crosses. Other courts have even upheld the right of women to bare their breasts as part of a protest.

        More importantly, a federal appeals court has struck down the Texas statute upon which the vice chancellor seemed to rely, making it once again legal to display dildos, even if not part of a First Amendment protected protest, unless they are "obscene": in other words, used to appeal to a "shameful or morbid" interest in sex and "patently offensive."

        Some protesters reportedly planned to carry Nerf guns, pointing out another "dilemma."

        The university's Residence Hall Handbook prohibits Nerf guns. So the learned vice chancellor may be in the odd position of having to expel a student for having a Nerf gun, which shoots harmless pieces of foam, while defending the rights of other students to carry Glocks capable of a mass murder.

        As Charles Dickens suggested, "If the law supposes that, the law is a ass - a idiot."

        Or, as one student summed up her feelings: "This is a rifle. This is a gun. Glocks are for fighting. Cocks are for fun."

        Finally, a campus sex protest which doesn't involved rape!

JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW, Wash, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418
http://banzhaf.net/  jbanzhaf@law.gwu.edu  @profbanzhaf

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