A free press survives at Virginia TechIt's important to emphasize the key point. As I mentioned the other day, despite Tech statements to the contrary, it was the content of some of the comments left on the Collegiate Times website that prompted the effort to ban the CT. And that's about as anti-American as any move could be.
Virginia Tech's Commission on Student Affairs last week drew a line in the snow on the Drillfield. It told the Collegiate Times, the school's student-run newspaper, to stop allowing anonymous comments on its Web site or lose funding, advertising and office space.
Fortunately, cooler heads in the administration overruled the CSA. No one would have won if the school had followed through on the threat.
The CSA was on shaky constitutional ground. It would have been one thing to cut funding based on budgetary considerations, but as soon as the commission -- and its disturbingly named "Subcommission on Ethical Media" -- started basing decisions on content, it treaded on First Amendment protections.
Administrators, if not the students on the CSA, understood that Tech is a government institution. It may not silence certain views simply because some people find them offensive. The First Amendment exists especially to protect the expression of ideas that offend and challenge sensibilities.
The courts have long recognized the right to anonymous speech because it allows people to share controversial views without fear of retribution. The seminal example, of course, was the Federalist Papers. [link]
So here's to the Roanoke Times for backing me up, and to Virginia Tech for coming to its senses.
America is a better place today.