I am not so happy with my alma mater just now. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee proposes to charge the Conservative Union, a student organization, $ 2500.00 for security costs in connection with an appearance of Walid Shoebat, a reformed PLO terrorist who speaks against jihad.
I know little about Shoebat. I understand that certain groups accuse him of being an "Islamophobe" and an evangelical Christian "extremist." For all I know, he may be both. It is clear that he thinks that virulent forms of Islam are dangerous and widespread. But that's not the point.
You never know how accurate a news report is, but it seems that the amount of the fee may have been set based upon the anticipated reaction to Shoebat's views. As a general matter, this is unconstitutional. The government has the right to charge for the cost of policing an event, but, in general, it can't set that fee based upon an assessment of the speaker's views and the likely reaction to it.
The paper notes that other universities have banned or restricted Shoebat speeches, but they are private institutions. UWM is a public university and, while it may impose reasonable time, place and manner regulation, it does not get to engage in viewpoint discrimination. Basing the amount of a fee upon what a speaker will say and how others may react to it does that.
Apart from its constitutional obligations, there may be an educational opportunity here. Mohamed Elsayed, President of the Muslim Student Organization, wants to know "[w]here is the boundary between freedom of speech and hate speech?" I can tell him. With the exception of a few very narrow categories (e.g., speech that will incite imminent violence)that aren't remotely implicated here, there isn't one. I wish that my school would have stood up for that. Bad timing for end of the year fundraising.