Maryland Congressman Anthony Brown announced last week a bill he plans to introduce that, if enacted, would seek to curb hate speech in higher education.
At an event at the University of Maryland – College Park, the Democratic congressman — who recently stated that President Donald Trump is “unfit for office” and blamed the president for an increase in prejudicial behavior on college campuses nationwide — said the legislation would mandate universities to demonstrate they have the means to define “what is acceptable speech and what is not acceptable speech.”
The “Creating Accountability Measures Protecting University Students Historically Abused, Threatened and Exposed to Crimes” or CAMPUS HATE Crimes Act would withhold federal funding to a university unless it demonstrates to the Department of Education that it has “adopted and implemented a program to prevent and adequately respond to hate crimes within the jurisdiction of the institution or by students and employees.”
Although the measure would state that the college’s plan of action should prohibit and define violence, vandalism, or other crimes which targets someone based on their gender, gender identification, race, religion, and other standard background identifications, there is no limitation on what the school’s standards may be in targeting hate speech, even if the school “should spell the difference between hate crimes and constitutionally protected hate speech and what makes hate crimes unique compared to other violent crimes.”
Existing laws like the 1997 Campus Hate Crimes Right to Know Act that requires universities to publicize hate crime data, but Brown’s proposed legislation would instruct universities to report such crimes to local police. Brown suggests that many colleges underreport incidents of hate due to fear of bad publicity.
The freshman representative told the college crowd, “If you want to see things change, or at least change in government, you first have to know they’re happening.”
“That’s why we have the reporting requirement,” he added.
A draft of the bill has yet to be publicized. If passed and signed into law, the measure would add to the four federal and 45 state laws targeting hate crimes.