There is no Free Speech on College Campuses

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with a number of YAL students at Washington University in St. Louis.

To honor the lives of the tens of millions of human beings who were butchered at the hands of the socialist sickness, we constructed a Soviet Gulag in the center of the campus. To use Valerie Jarrett’s phrase, we were ‘speaking truth to power’ — the truth being Hayek’s dictum:  SOCIALISM LEADS TOTALITARIANISM. We did not turn this into a partisan debate; we merely stayed in character as Soviet socialist guards and gulag prisoners. Find pictures and video here.

Much can be said about this, and I intend to say much about this over the coming days. But one thing is clear: THERE IS NO FREE SPEECH ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES.

As a student you need to disillusion yourself from the notion that colleges are bastions of free speech and expression. They aren’t. As we discovered at Washington University-St. Louis, the administration can and will crush free speech when it doesn’t mesh with their own beliefs or political correctness.

In future posts I will fully document how we were shut down and why it was totally arbitrary. For now, I just want to reinforce my point.

If there is no free speech on colleges, then what does that mean for liberty activists like you?

It means a couple of things:

1) You must “steel” yourselves for inevitable confrontation with cops. As with everything else socialist, policies — even arbitrary ones — cannot be enforced peacefully. At some point, they will have to bring men with guns and night sticks and handcuffs who are authorized to do violence against you. You must prepare yourselves for this encounter.

2) YOU have the moral high ground on this issue. As long as you’re not committing violence or destroying property (trampled grass, by the way, is not destruction of property, though you should make serious attempts at preserving the lawn for a number of reasons — such as avoiding administration retaliation), then you aren’t doing anything wrong. You need to realize this fact and internalize it.

3) Just because you are in the moral right, doesn’t mean you’re not in the civil “wrong.”  If you violate their arbitrary and spur of the moment rules, you’re still going to be held to account by university authorities. It takes tremendous courage to commit acts of civil disobedience, but then again, isn’t freedom worth it? Ask yourself:  what would Martin Luther King, Jr. have done?

4) Do NOT be intimidated by cops. However, make sure you have more than 2 people filming your encounter. This ensures that you will have an accurate representation of the situation later should you encounter legal troubles.

5) Cops do not know the Constitution and they really don’t give a damn about free speech or your rights. They are agents of the administration. If a professor complains that students are causing trouble on the quad, the cops don’t ask questions; they do what they’re told.

6) DEMONSTRATE. You need to get some balls, folks. You need to publicly demonstrate and physically protest against specific policies on your campus and have a list of demands. So your campus has voted to only sell ‘fair trade’ coffee. Protest this crappy coffee and demand higher quality. Pickett INSIDE the coffee shop on campus. Lay down on the floor and refuse to move. The point is:  find your issue, turn it into a few sexy slogans, localize the issue to your campus, draw up a list of demands, and demonstrate like hell until the administration bows down to your agenda. Then, once you have won, determine your NEXT issue (we have an inexhaustible list), find some sexy slogans, localize the issue, draw up a list of demands, and fight like hell until the administration capitulates. The left does this all the time with great success.

Whenever you demonstrate for liberty and the cops come for you — and they will come for you sooner or later — as long as you have video cameras ready, and press realeases ready, chain yourself to anything you can and yell, “HELL NO, WE WON’T GO. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AND NOT YOU OR ANYBODY ELSE ON THIS EARTH IS GOING TO SHUT ME UP OR SHUT ME DOWN. I HAVE A RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH. I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN. THIS IS A PUBLIC UNIVERSITY.”

(If it is a private university, do not dispair. The university has a contractual obligation to allow your freedom of speech. Do your research in advance and don’t cave to invalid property rights arguments.  You have the moral high ground and should hold the university to any and all contracts it has made with students to allow speech on campus.  FIRE has free books available about free speech, due process, freedom of religion, and other legal issues as they pertain to college campuses, both public and private.)

7) Ask for assistance. Contact some friends, like me at, your buddies at Young Americans for Liberty, Campus Reform, the Alliance Defense Fund, or FIRE  to come fight for you and help you feed your story to the media.

Meanwhile, you should be sending out press releases to every media outlet within a 400 mile radius. Nobody can guarantee that you won’t come away from the battle unharmed. Many of us have been expelled, forced to leave college, or put on disciplinary probation. So, you should realize that there is considerable risk.


The answer then, is not to tuck your tail between your legs, but rather FIGHT. FIGHT. FIGHT.

Your parents will try and calm you down and scare you into inaction. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN. Do you believe in free speech? If so, there is no choice. You must act and damn the consequences. What future do ANY of us have if we lose our liberties? What would have happened to the dream of America if the founders — men and women like my ancestor Alexander Burns, a buck private in the Continental Army who had only recently immigrated to the colonies, but still was willing to fight for freedom — had said, “Oh, the cost is too large, the burden is too great. Our liberties aren’t worth the hassle or the risk. We shall simply submit”?

Submit? SUBMIT??? Like hell, we’ll submit.

There would have been NO America if our ancestors had backed down. Each generation has its crises and its heroes. You YAL students are the heroes of our present era. You’re fighting against the establishment, which will gleefully turn us all into serfs before an almighty state if it is given the chance. Are you really going to tell me that you’re not willing to fight these bastards because your parents think it’s a bad idea, or because you’re afraid of some puke bureaucrat at the university is threatening you?

YOU are a free born American. YOU are a bada**. YOU don’t take shi* from anybody.

8). The battle lines are drawn. Which side are you on? Are you ready to stand up with the long and noble line of your ancestors who had the guts to tell the British to suck on a banana?  Or are you just going to meekly take it like the rest of the student body, content to constantly get screwed?


If you are a freedom fighter, if you are ready to stand up for free speech, let’s stand up together!  There are resources available to help you put up a real fight for freefom on your campus.  If I can be of assistance, contact me here or here.

Happy Hunting.

John Burns

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