NASHVILLE, TN (WMC) - A discussion on Tennessee's capitol hill regarding free speech took an unexpected twist when a Knoxville-based state representative was asked by Representative John Deberry if the proposed bill should apply to ISIS recruiting. A push back from Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis may have just killed the bill in the legislature.
While presenting House Bill HB2063, now dubbed the Tennessee Student Free Speech Protection Act, Representative Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville) was asked by Representative John DeBerry Jr (D-Memphis) if Daniel believed ISIS should be able to stand in the middle of a college campus and "recruit for ISIS".
Daniel replied, "Yes", with the stipulation that the recruitment was not disrupting the proceedings on the college campus.
"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," said Daniel.
The remarks followed a debate over the Tennessee Student Free Speech Protection Act, which Daniel argues would require schools to observe freedom of speech. ISIS recruitment, according to his response to Rep. DeBerry's question, is part of allowing freedom of speech.
The bill requires the governing board of each state institute of higher education to adopt a policy on freedom of speech and expression for students that, among other things, confirms that freedom of speech is a fundamental right and that institutions are committed to free and open inquiry by students in all matters. It also would guarantee students the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn to discuss any issue that presents itself on that campus. In addition, the bill promises to not "shield individuals from ideas and opinions considered unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive; or discourage or prohibit any type of speech or expressive activity."
Deberry argued it is dangerous to allow that kind of freedom, based on the population that would be targeted.
"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," said DeBerry. "You have a lot of people who want to speak on our colleges and on our universities against our country and against everything we believe in. Free speech is one thing; being stupid is another."
House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee Chairman Mark White (R-Germantown) recommended the bill to be taken off notice following Daniel's argument that ISIS should be allowed to recruit on college campuses. Before that, Daniel said he hoped the committee would send the bill to summer study.