Here’s a story showing a gross misunderstanding of the freedom of speech and a horrible college student body tort that the college administrators wrongfully endorsed. Employees of family-owned bakery local to Oberlin college caught three Negro Oberlin students trying to steal goods from the bakery store, and called the police. Antagonistic, race-baiting Oberlin and student activists engaged in public protests and boycott efforts that defamed the bakery as racists and dramatically reduced bakery income. College officials claim they only allowed students to exercise their right to freedom of speech, and had nothing to do with damaging the bakery’s business.
The bakers sued Oberlin college and won a ruling that Oberlin College committed libel and disrupted the bakery’s business, AND an award of $11 million in compensatory damages. A punitive damages trial might yield more money for the bakery’s owners.
While it remains possible that an appellate panel will overturn all or part of the trial court’s ruling and award, the college administrators could and should have put a stop to the damaging student protests. The US Constitution does not protect otherwise protected speech when the speakers intend to use it as an instrument of libel and business disruption. The right to free speech comes with commensurate responsibility, a fact that delusional, contemptible, vociferous demonstrators typically fail to consider.