Today, as part of a national ad campaign, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education placed a half-page ad in Michigan State University's student newspaper criticizing the university's absurdly overbroad spam policy:
People hate spam so much that they often get very irrational when discussing it. I hate spam too, but one thing you learn in First Amendment law is that censors, especially ones on college campuses, are remarkably good at bundling protected speech with speech that does not enjoy constitutional protection (e.g. true harassment, libel, etc.). Calling something spam doesn't make it so. Under MSU's policy, even sending one e-mail on an important topic might not be allowed. A student is not even protected if, as Kara did, he or she uses an outside e-mail address. Hopefully, our hatred of spam is not so blinding that it obscures the fact that the spamming rationale is just another approach to stifle debate on campus. I hope that MSU will reconsider its policy and get off our Red Alert list by this time next year.