NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A state lawmaker from Knoxville said Wednesday that ISIS should be allowed to recruit at the University of Tennessee and other state universities during discussion about a bill protecting free speech on college campuses.
The bill, called the “Tennessee Student Free Speech Protection Act,” is sponsored by Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville) and would require the governing boards of Tennessee higher education institutions to adopt a policy on freedom of speech and expression. Martin said during a subcommittee meeting that he believed students’ free speech had been diminished due to unfair policies.
Martin’s response came after a question from Rep. John DeBerry Jr. (D-Memphis) challenging whether all speech should be considered free.
“Should someone be able to stand in the marketplace, or in the town square at the University of Tennessee, University of Memphis, Murfreesboro, Cookeville, Austin Peay, and recruit for ISIS?” asked DeBerry.
“Yes, 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.
DeBerry argued that the world has changed in recent years.
“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,” DeBerry said. “Free speech is one thing. Being stupid is another.”
The bill was taken off notice following the exchange. Martin had pushed for the bill to be sent to summer study.