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Tennessee lawmakers introduce 'Milo bill' to protect freedom of speech on all state campuses

BERKELEY, CA - FEBRUARY 1: People protesting controversial Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos take to the streets on February 1, 2017 in Berkeley, California. A scheduled speech by Yiannopoulos was cancelled after protesters and police engaged in violent skirmishes. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Two Tennessee lawmakers introduced a bill in the Tennessee legislature this week that seeks to protect freedom of speech at Tennessee universities while preventing campuses from stifling students' First Amendment rights.

According to the Washington Times, Republican State Rep. Martin Daniel and Sen. Joey Hensley, both Republicans, introduced the "Tennessee Freedom of Speech on College Campus Bill" last Thursday which seeks to prevent state universities from adopting policies that "shield individuals from ideas and opinions considered unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive."

The bill would prevent campus groups and school administrators from "closing off the discussion of ideas no matter how offensive or disagreeable."

In addition, the bill would require every state school to "be open to any speaker whom students, student groups, or members of the faculty have invited."

The bill has been dubbed the "Milo bill," giving a nod to alt-right figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos whose presence on college campuses routinely causes riots, incited by Democratic protesters who want to prevent Yiannopoulos from speaking. Conservative figures Gavin McInnes and Ben Shapiro have also been blocked from giving speeches at universities.

"Campus free speech is being challenged by restrictive speech codes; speaker bans and disinvites; ... safe spaces and trigger warnings; and administrators who feel pressured to placate demonstrators," Daniel said at a press conference Thursday, according to the Huffington Post.

"Too many times we’ve seen classrooms where the professor doesn’t want to hear both sides of an issue," added Hensley. "We’ve heard stories from many students who are honestly on the conservative side, who have those issues stifled in the classroom."

"We just want to ensure that our public universities give all students the right to free expression," Hensley explained. "We don’t want this happening in Tennessee, what happened in California."

Earlier this month, thousands of protesters rioted on UC Berkeley's campus prior to Yiannopoulos speaking. The university eventually cancelled Yiannopoulos' speech and he was escorted by police from the school. According to reports, no rioters were arrested.

Daniel introduced similar legislation last year, according to WVLT-TV, but pulled it after critics said it would theoretically allow Islamic extremists to recruit for the Islamic State at Tennessee universities.

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