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Coastal School Of Law Professor Wants Government To 'Shut Up' About Controversial Topics

Florida Coastal School of Law

A Florida Coastal School of Law professor will be making the case that government should stay silent on controversial issues at a First Coast Freethought Society forum Monday night.

The lecture, titled "When the Government Should Shut Up," will highlight how government contradicts itself about what qualifies as free speech.

Law professor Christopher Roederer generally believes government should stay out of the business of regulating speech.

“Whether it’s regarding abortion rights or choice vs life, when it comes to things like religion, that it’s better for government to be quiet,” Roederer says.

But what really grinds his gears is a government that can’t make up its mind about its role one way or the other.

“Usually when the government’s regulating it must be completely neutral,” Roederer says. “It can’t discriminate against ideas or regulate on the basis of its favoring or disfavoring any particular viewpoint.”

Roederer says governments voice opinions when it’s convenient, instead of being consistent on their position. Look at Texas’s banning Confederate license plates, he says, because they amounted to government speech. Yet, Texas allows pro-life plates, taking a position on abortion.

“You either let everybody express what they want on those license plates or you don’t let anybody,” Roederer says.

But Roederer also says false, hateful, or violent ideas should be regulated. To learn more about his position, stop by the Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church this evening at 6:30. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.