Two big free-speech matters are making headlines today. First, Phil Roberts of the show Duck Dynasty made some truly ugly comments in an interview with GQ, which prompted A&E to suspend him from the show. Predictably enough, the right-wing meme has become “the left is tolerant of everything as long as you agree with them.” Second, the Kansas board of regents adopted an exceedingly broad policy on social media use that could provide authority for employees (presumably including faculty) to be disciplined for comments that harm or insult the university.
One thing that strikes me about the comparative relief between the two cases is the odd relation to the State and legalistic reasoning. Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal, for example, defended Roberts on First Amendment grounds, even though A&E is a private concern obviously unconstrained by the First Amendment. Meanwhile, one person I read said that the Kansas decision is appropriate because, hey, universities are basically businesses and businesses need to protect their brands. But here (separate from the academic freedom issue) the University of Kansas is a state agency and hence more directly bound by the First Amendment than A&E would be!
Ironically, since the Kansas decision was presumably communicated at some point online, the Regents are the very first violators of their own policy: causing information damaging to the reputation of the University to be spread online!