After the Berkeley Riots, Lawmakers in a ‘Groundhog Day’ Scenario

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

From ALEC:

Unfortunately, this sort of incident is all too common. An incident occurs, the public is outraged, legislators feel pressure to respond in some way, and then eventually life goes back to normal. A short time later the cycle repeats itself. This nightmare episode of “Groundhog Day” will continue until legislators figure out how to get to the root of the problem and stop campus riots before they start.

Legislators may be tempted to react to the specific incident introducing ill-advised legislation that attempts to punish the perceived culprits, but ultimately chills free speech. For example, it would not be a good idea to enact a law that required students and/or faculty who invited the speaker to bear the burden of additional security costs. Nor would it be a good idea to place this burden on the protestors who peacefully assembled outside. The rioters naturally should pay for the damage they cause, but the law already covers that matter.