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Tennessee Lawmaker Says Free Speech on College Campuses Is So Important It Should Even Apply to Islamic State Recruiters

"Free speech is one thing; being stupid is another."

Image source: WBIR-TV)

A Knoxville-based lawmaker believes that free speech at U.S. colleges includes the right of Islamic State representatives to freely recruit while on campuses, according to remarks made while the lawmaker presented a bill Wednesday.

Rep. Martin Daniel (R) fielded questions Wednesday while presenting a bill called the "Tennessee Student Free Speech Protection Act." During the session, Rep. John DeBerry (D) asked Daniel whether or not he believed the bill in question should apply to all people and organizations — including the Islamic State recruiters.

"Should someone be able to stand in the marketplace or in the town square at the University of Tennessee, the University of Memphis, Murfreesboro, Cookeville, Austin Peay, and recruit for ISIS?" DeBerry asked Daniel.

"Yes," Daniel replied, according to the Tennessean. "So long as it doesn’t disrupt the proceedings on that campus. Yes sir. They can recruit people for any other organization or any other cause. I think it’s just part of being exposed to differing viewpoints."

Daniel went on to point out that Tennessee State University already has a policy in place that prohibits disruption in any and all forms on its campus, the Tennessean reported. He also noted that Middle Tennessee State University forces its students to fill out an application and submit it five days in advance if they are interested in handing out literature on campus. Daniel and DeBerry proceeded to discuss Daniel's statements as DeBerry challenged the bill.

"There are young people who are not ready yet — they're half-baked, half-cooked — who are recruited to work against their own parents, their own nation, and I would be concerned as a parent and as a citizen," DeBerry said to Daniel, according to the Tennessean. "Free speech is one thing; being stupid is another."

"Our schools are tending towards shielding students away from objectionable speech," Daniel responded.

Following Daniel's statements concerning the Islamic State recruiters, the Home Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee Chairman Mark White (R) recommended that the bill be taken off notice, the Tennessean noted.

(H/T: WBIR-TV)

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

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