Many students keep blogs.
Often, they’re used to chronicle sports, music or simply everyday campus life – which is what a Butler University junior intended when he started his TrueBU Blog last year.
However, when a Butler department head was fired, and the anonymous blogger thought it was done so unjustly, he began to use his blog to express his opinions in a less pedestrian way.
In reaction to the blog, Butler filed a lawsuit against the student for libel.
However, what was in the blog was opinion.
Surely everyone knows the First Amendment protects freedoms of the speech and of the press.
The student’s opinions weren’t necessary. And, the way he presented them likely detracted from any likelihood they would be heard and acted upon by the administration.
The opinions may not have been right and they may have been nasty, but they weren’t threatening. They weren’t going to hurt anyone or anything – besides perhaps some reputations.
And it’s shocking that a university would file a lawsuit against one of its own students for critical, albeit juvenile, opinions about administrators.
In reality, students are often going to be critical of their school’s officials, and school officials have to deal with it.
Bradley officials have said the only time they would ever observe a student’s opinions is if a threat was perceived.
Bradley’s a private school and, to be fair, its administration has been very open to student free speech, including the Scout. And while we recognize stopping a student making threats is important, it makes us nervous that the school has the authority to read student e-mail and monitor other communications.
This is why students need to use free speech wisely. Because believe it or not, free speech doesn’t always mean you’re free to say whatever you want.