This should never happen in America, let alone in the freedom-loving state of Texas.
A citation was issued to a preacher after students at the University of Texas in Austin complained they were being “verbally harassed.”
The preacher, Joshua, was an intern with Campus Ministry USA, an organization that spreads its message traveling to different college campuses, the Daily Caller reported.
After preaching his message just off campus, officers showed up and literally told Joshua that it was illegal to offend people.
Brother Jed Smock, the ministry’s head, told the Caller that Joshua was warning “against STD’s, warning against anal sex.” Specifically, the officers explained the words “penis” and “anus,” among others, constituted a disorderly conduct violation.
The citation was later voided after lawyer Ari Cohen from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found the officer’s response to Joshua “deeply disturbing” and contacted the police department.
The police chief explained that the free-speech stifling officer was in training, according to the Daily Caller.
That wasn’t a good enough excuse for Cohn who sees the bigger picture.
“Even worse is that while Brother Jed is not a campus community member, and was not even on campus property, the officer justified his decision with the fact that students on campus across the way were offended. The implications for campus expression are dire,” Cohn went on to say.
“If offending someone on campus is now grounds for criminal citations, students wishing to express themselves will much more likely censor themselves, or simply refrain from speaking at all. Such a result is unacceptable, legally and morally, at a state university bound by the First Amendment.”
Brother Jed has a history for incendiary preaching, and may indeed be annoying or offensive to even some of the most faithful passers-by. But it’s a slippery slope to stifle someone’s speech for temporary comfort. Because who will be muzzled next, you?
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