University of New Mexico Erects ‘Free Speech Zone’ Signs to Alert Students of ‘Uncomfortable’ Speech, Including Gospel Preaching

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In a newly-devised policy, the University of New Mexico has enacted a practice of erecting signs to advise students that a “free speech zone” with potentially “uncomfortable” or “controversial” content is ahead, including this week when a gospel preacher visited the campus to talk about repentance and faith in Christ. The controversial development has some concerned that the signs could dissuade potential listeners from even hearing the messages.

“If we don’t put up the signs, we get many requests to remove [speakers] and ask speakers to leave,” Ryan Lindquist, the director of student activities at the university, told local television station KRQE.

The signs read, “Free speech zone ahead: Topics discussed may be uncomfortable or controversial. The topics and opinions discussed are those of private individuals and not the University of New Mexico.”

The practice was reportedly initiated following spring break. The signs are posted by the Student Activities Center whenever a non-university sponsored event is held on campus.

Several signs were erected near the area where Ryan Denton of Christ in the Wild Gospel Society was preaching the gospel on Monday. Others were set up by an environmental educational effort.

Denton, who has ministered to students numerous times on the campus, shared photos of the signs to social media.

“New gospel-preacher warning system put in by UNM,” he wrote.

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University attorney Katherine Miefert, the associate general counsel for the University of New Mexico, said that the entire campus is a free speech zone, but students often complain about various topics or events that they find controversial.

Lindquist outlined that he consequently decided to put up the signs as an “educational opportunity.” The signage had been utilized in the past, and made a comeback due to complaints from upset hearers.

“It’s just educating students, faculty, staff and visitors that they (the speakers) have the right to [communicate a message] on campus,” he said.

However, some believe that the signs can actually serve as detours away from free speech because they warn students that the activity could make them feel uncomfortable—including the public proclamation of the gospel.

“When you put up those signs, it really seems like you’re taking people away from going to those type of events because they might not be comfortable with it,” senior Mary Lopez told reporters.

“While groups should be free to put up their own warning signs, no school should impose on schools this extra tax on speech by influencing students to avoid certain displays. Thanks to the U.S. Constitution, the United States is a free speech zone, something that school administrators should remember and respect,” also remarked Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life.

While KRQE reports that “the university insists that [the signs] are not meant to be trigger warnings,” the student newspaper The Daily Lobo quotes Lindquist as stating, “Those signs were put there basically as a trigger warning for people who may be uncomfortable with the content that is being discussed … so that those signs give people an opportunity to avoid or find a detour … to get around those spaces if they don’t want to engage in that type of event.”

When Christian News Network attempted to obtain clarification on this contradiction, Linquist directed questions to university attorney Miefert, who has not returned a previous call. However, Christian News Network was able to confirm through an audio file provided by The Daily Lobo that the outlet’s “trigger warning” quote was accurate.

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  • A warning sign for free speech…
    The message must be that it’s something to be feared…

  • james blue

    Under free speech should there be no warnings about content on TV, at theaters, on books? I see no problem with these signs. They do not infringe on speech and warn the potential audience that it’s their choice to “enter”

    We have the right to speak, not the right to be heard. We can make an informed decision not to see a movie or a TV show because of rating signs. So why is this sign a problem?

    • Lexical Cannibal

      I often wish that the right to disengage from speakers got at much attention as the right to the speech itself. The potential for “Offensive” speech goes in all directions, so it behooves all comers to understand what they’re approaching. I see signs like this in a similar vein to Pedestrian Crossing signs: they’re not telling you *not* to proceed forward, just to do so with appropriate care.

  • Reason2012

    A very clever attack on free speech – act like there’s something dangerous and offensive about it.

    • james blue

      How is it an attack? The speaker is not being hindered one bit.

      • Reason2012

        Hello. Attacks come very slowly and very small. They don’t just start by utterly banning free speech or whatever it is you seek to eventually eradicate. They start by first leaving it be but instead demonizing it, implying that such topics are hateful and bigoted. Then some will start to even censor themselves because they’re being fed the lie that some speech (in this case the gospel of salvation) is hateful and bigoted.

        Here’s the biggest most recent example in America: Ask those who voted for Trump how often they didn’t let people know because the left made it look like you were a racist, sexist bigot if you voted for Trump – people then censored themselves out of fear of being labeled as such, and presto: making claims that some ideas – some speech – is hateful is really a very clever attack on free speech.

        Fortunately, many are catching on to the dangerous, anti-free speech deception.

        • Tangent002 ✓

          The sign doesn’t say the speech is hateful, just that it may be uncomfortable.

          As I understand it, that sign is present regardless of the nature of the speech, so the same would be true if there was, say, a Hindu or atheist speaker.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            if it is a man ….. they need to grow a pair …… if they are a woman …… they need to GROW A PAIR ……….. living in a free society is dangerous …. GROW A PAIR ……….

          • james blue

            So no warnings on the cover of magazines, no warnings on movies or TV shows?

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            warnings for what ………….

        • james blue

          If you seek victimhood you will always achieve it. Free speech means you are free to speak, it doesn’t mean you have the right to be heard, the right to be free from opposing views or the right to be free from criticism.

          The signs may be a sign of how easily offended some people get (yourself included), but they do not hinder your right to speak. all they do is help the easily offended decide to take a different route. The same as movie ratings do.

          • Reason2012

            It’s interesting that you just described to a T what liberals do, even in colleges. When a conservative speaker comes to college, the liberals act like they’re being victimized by these conservative views, like they have the “right” to be free from conservative views and that this speech should be forbidden from speaking. So before that day arrives they riot, break things and protest, demanding the speech be shut down – and often it is. If it’s not shut down they then show up and just scream and riot to stop the speech. They make a pretense at being offended by said speeches.

            So yes, tell liberals that Free Speech means conservatives are free to speak, as they do whatever they can to shut down religious views and conservative views, going as far as they’re able to get away with doing to do so. And as I said, it starts as small as their able to get away with, and pretending certain views are “offensive” or “uncomfortable” is one of the ways it begins again somewhere else.

          • james blue

            A generic sign is rioting and shutting down speech? Is the sign itself not protected under the first amendment?

        • Jon Wooten

          Look how uncomfortable it is for you when people discuss transgenders, or gay marriage, or other faiths. Controversial subject matter goes both ways.

          • Reason2012

            It’s “uncomfortable” to me? Not at all. After someone wants to make such claims promoting such things, I simply address their points. But those who hate such points I bring up are the ones that feign high offense, riot and demand opposing views be shut down. Please cite your posts where you rebuke them for actually shutting down conservative views even at colleges. Or are you claiming you have no idea such things go on?

          • Jon Wooten

            You’re going to have to be more specific than that. I abhor censorship of all kinds, but I take no issue with letting people know that they might be hearing something controversial.

        • TheKingOfRhye

          the left made it look like you were a racist, sexist bigot if you voted for Trump

          No, the racists and sexists among Trump’s supporters (who he didn’t seem to make great efforts to distance himself from) made it look that way. Blame them, not the left. Blame the “alt-right.”

          (And, just so someone doesn’t accuse me of this, please notice I’m not saying all, or even most, Trump voters are “racist, sexist bigots.”)

      • Hadassah Weinstein

        Its an attack on Free Speech to say it can be restricted to special “zones”.
        Entire USA is a Free Speech Zone. Its called The First Amendment.

        • james blue

          That’s not what this sign does.

  • Eric L

    College in the Dark Ages where the Inquisition stifles speech.

    We ought to pray often for kids who can think for themselves. It can’t be easy for them.

  • LCSO1992

    The state of New Mexico is a leaning to the left and wants to be like California. The city government of Las Cruces, population over 100K, is very shameless in their hatred of President Trump. Dona Ana County’s, County Commission is just as bad.

  • Hadassah Weinstein

    Entire USA is a Free Speech Zone – it’s called the First Amendment.
    And many are offended by the Marxist Indoctrination by the Professors and Textbooks but
    there is no warning that Leftist Speech is offensive to many (and it is!)

    • Bob Johnson

      No the entire USA is not a Free Speech Zone. If I walked into your church on Sunday morning and started preaching FSM doctrine. I would and should be told to leave.

      • Hadassah Weinstein

        A Church is private property. In 200+ years there never were any “free speech zones”.
        This is something new and it is chilling.

        • Tangent002 ✓

          Churches do not pay taxes and are therefore subsidized by the American taxpayer.

          • Hadassah Weinstein

            Still Private Property

          • Then they should pay property taxes like all other private property owners.

          • Hadassah Weinstein

            Political Organizations and Charities are also private property and tax exempt.

          • True, but political organizations, in my opinion, should pay property tax because they engage in political partisanship.

            Charities do not take political positions as do many fundamentalist/evangelical churches. Any organization involved in politicking should at least pay property tax.

          • Hadassah Weinstein

            Regardless of whether Charities, Churches and Political Organizations should pay taxes, they are all Private Property and have the right to restrict free speech. However, All Colleges receive Billions in Federal Aid – some are even owned by States and therefore Free Speech should not be restricted on Colleges. One of the purposes of Higher Education USED TO BE encouraging students to debate and expose themselves to different point of view. Not anymore. The Democrat Tyrants having a MONOPOLY in indoctrinating THEIR Agenda, don’t allow opposing views to be voiced on campus. Communists are FOR Free Speech – until they get into power.

          • And ANY 501c/d organizations (and there are many) whether having private property or not, and RECEIVES taxpayer support directly or indirectly, AND engages in partisan politics, should lose their 501c/d status and appropriate pay taxes. Some always slip by.

            And churches, in particular, should not be allowed to dictate to their members which party or which candidate for whom to vote and add the coercive tactic of threatening Hell for those who vote for the other candidate.

            Do you really want your church to be a political pack, being paid off to support a particular candidate or party? Enough money from special interest groups will likely sway most preachers to steer their flock toward the green(back) pastures (especially in primaries).

            And besides that, if a church in your community was sponsoring a liberal (horrors!) candidate, would you want a portion of your property taxes going to support that church?

          • One of the purposes of Higher Education USED TO BE encouraging students to debate and expose themselves to different point of view. Not anymore. The Democrat Tyrants having a MONOPOLY in indoctrinating THEIR Agenda, don’t allow opposing views to be voiced on campus. Communists are FOR Free Speech – until they get into power.

            So, you’re equating Democrats with communists? I do wish conservatives/republicans would educate themselves with objective knowledge. Why don’t you get off your propaganda inspired liberal hate wagon and have a civil conversation?

            Point in fact: I am a progressive–a Bernie Sanders style Democratic Socialist (which most conservatives completely misunderstand and don’t want to understand) and I am all for free speech in colleges. In fact, I’m for free speech in any public place that allows political or social advocacy, subject to laws and rules of civil conduct (e.g., disruptive loudness, threatening speech, inciting violence).

            Democratic socialists are NOT communists. Communism (radical socialism) is a political system where the state (supposedly the people) own and govern the production and distribution of goods and services–including the news outlets.

            A true communist system (which has never existed) would require complete devotion by everyone to the Golden Rule as their primary motivating force. However, self-interest and greed are more powerful motives, and they are genetic in origin–impulses inherited from our evolutionary past when they were instincts we could not control.

            Democratic socialism means controlling (not owning) the market and the means of production and distribution such that the workers get a fair share of the value (wealth) that they create. Business owners can still become wealthy, just not as absurdly wealthy as they’ve become today. The ideal role of the tax system is to create an economy where the least among us are given the means and assistance to improve their own lives through education and self-reliance.

            Bottom line is that Democratic Socialism advocates for equal OPPORTUNITY for every citizen to political and social structures in our nation and recognizes that not everyone has the same abilities but should not live in poverty because of it. It advocates that every citizen has the right to live and seek happiness according to the dictates of their conscience without anyone restricting that right.

          • Hadassah Weinstein

            Are you for Socialized Healthcare? It results in out of control spending and bankruptcy and third rate healthcare. It results in tyranny of Death Panels and not allowing people to flee the country and get healthcare with their own funds. Too generous Welfare results in large segments of public not working – generation after generation. And results in Bankruptcy. Its just not sustainable. Free College? Democrats control the Universities and use it to indoctrinate students into Marxism and SHUT DOWN any other point of view – using Thugs to BEAT UP speakers and supporters of opposing views.
            Bernie Sanders wants to confiscate guns to impose even more tyranny.
            NO THANK YOU!

          • MCrow

            I live in a country with socialized healthcare. It allows preventative healthcare (i.e. when I have a cough, I go to a hospital and they can take measures to keep me healthier) and keeps the population healthier and more able to be part of a workforce. I also am able to deal with injuries without going heavily into debt. The quality of healthcare is the same or better than in the US, as is their economy. Statistics say you’re wrong.

            It takes a very special mindset to be against education. If you have opposing viewpoints in university, you share them. And then defend them. If you can’t, then you have two choices: accept that your viewpoint is flawed, or find evidence to support them. So yes, they ‘shut down’ opposing viewpoints by demanding you actually provide evidence.

            You said Obama would confiscate guns. You said Clinton would confiscate guns. I’m guessing you still own your guns. Please come up with a better argument that has weight.

          • Hadassah Weinstein

            I don’t know what country you live in, but many people with Socialized Medicine come to USA for treatment because they were denied or have to wait months. That’s a fact.
            In USA they shut down opposing viewpoints on College by not allowing you to express them, let alone debate. VIOLENCE is used against both Conservative speakers and their audience. I am FOR Education – I have a Masters Degree. But our Colleges are Indoctrination Centers and are
            Anti-Education, Free Speech, etc.
            The Democrats are out to confiscate guns. It won’t happen overnight. It happens in increments but so far the Democrats have gotten what they want like Homosexual Marriage (with Treasonous SCOTUS finding a “right to marry that’s not in the Constitution), Abortion (also not in the Constitution), Obamacare (step one to socialized medicine) which was sold to Americans with LIES: You can keep your doctor, you can keep your insurance plan, your premiums will go down. So I take this the threat
            to confiscate guns seriously. (I don’t own a gun but I am protected from
            more blatant tyranny by others who do).

          • MCrow

            Everyone I know from a country with socialized healthcare is perfectly content with it. If anything, most want more of it because it helps them not be sick. Certainly, the incredibly wealthy travel to the best places for care, but those aren’t necessarily America.

            Your gun arguments are nothing but doomsaying. Gun nuts have been crying that every Democrat leader will confiscate guns. If it actually happens, I’ll believe you. Until then, you don’t have any actual evidence.

          • Hadassah Weinstein

            a. There were mass protests in UK that socialized medicine is inadequate.
            b. America IS the mecca for best doctors & hospitals.
            c. Most new medicines and treatments are INVENTED in America because of Capitalism!
            You Lie! Democrats have openly called for gun confiscation and repeal
            of second amendment. Google “democrats confiscate guns” and you will see DIRECT QUOTES from numerous Democrat Leaders calling for gun confiscation and repeal of second amendment!

          • MCrow

            A) There are protests by Nazis in America. Does that mean that they are legitimate and should be taken as the average citizen?
            B) Switzerland, actually. Plus what good is the best healthcare if you can’t access it?
            C) Again, access
            D) Some people have. As an organization, absolutely not.

          • Hadassah Weinstein

            There IS access. Medicaid covers healthcare for the Poor. Also, hospitals are required by law to treat all regardless of ability to pay.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            I have socialized healthcare and I hate it. Canadian politicians do go to the US for health care.

          • Thank you, MCrow. Well said.

            Conservatives in this country do indeed have a very special mindset. It is the fundamentalist mindset (political and religious). It leaves them wide open for deception by the emotional rhetoric of self-serving politicians (as relayed and applied by Fox “News,” et al) and preachers.

            Note how the preachers of Prosperity Gospel rack up multi-million$ while their followers continue struggle but continue to believe. It’s a total scam, of course. But they will never learn. It’s emotional.

            Oh, and btw, I just checked my mail today. I received an offer to loan me $1,000. I couldn’t believe what the interest was (Republicans have been hard at work deregulating Wall Street and industry in general). While encouraged to make small payments over time, the offer, in small print, says the the annual interest rate of 299%.

            That’s the sort of corporate scam conservatives vote FOR!

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            The quality of healthcare is far lower in Canada than in the US. You have little experience outside your little bubble.

            Obama and Clinton have tried to confiscate guns. They just weren’t successful. The Dems are still trying though.

          • MCrow

            I’ve lived in two countries and know people from at least 10 that I interact with on a regular basis. I never said Canada. Don’t project

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            You mentioned the type of healthcare system, which is the same one we have here in Canada. You were wrong. Admit it.

          • Am I for socialized healthcare? YES! But actually, single payer is not socialized medicine (although I’d rather have it) as conservatives have been propagandized by corporate America to believe (any more than Medicare is socialized medicine). In fact, single payer would be virtually the same as medicare for all.

            Most of the medical industry’s, and all of Big pharma’s, sole interest–as is any corporation–is PROFIT, and as much as they can get. A single payer system would be considerably cheaper because the government (we the people) would only be interested in healthcare (no profit). As well, the government would be able to negotiate for lower drug prices, which they cannot do now (thanks to money in politics), thus drugs cost far more.

            For total and pure socialization of healthcare, it would be like the VA; the government would own the entire healthcare system–pay the doctors, funds the research, own the hospitals and clinics, and pay for patients’ needs. But it is basic healthcare (and preventive). For anything over the basic healthcare, insurance companies can still provide the more expansive and expensive insurance policies.

            Will you conservatives EVER learn from being wrong? Do you hate equal rights, social and economic justice and individual freedom (other than to have and carry guns) that much?

            You were wrong about liberals coming after your guns and Bibles and you were wrong about supply side economics (trickle-down Reaganomics and deregulation) the very thing that caused the Republican Great Recession of 2007-2009 and your party is back doing it again).

          • Hadassah Weinstein

            Socialized medicine murders “euthanizes” the sick – especially babies and old people. Socialized medicine = tyranny – parents of Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans and Aysha King NOT ALLOWED to leave the country with their children.
            If Socialized Medicine is so great, why do so many run away to USA for treatment their government denied or with long waiting lists?
            VA Hospital is a Scandal and disgrace with many veterans dying from
            lousy care or being put on waiting lists.
            Its Liberals who don’t learn from being wrong. Every government that tried Socialism ended in bankruptcy and/or tyranny. There is no freedom or equality in Socialist Societies – the rulers and billionaire have all the
            $$$ and power and everyone else has crap.
            Democrats ARE going after guns, Democrats ARE persecuting christans.
            Best Economies were under Reagan and Trump. Worst economies under
            Carter and Obama.

          • Good point. You are correct in the sense that they do not pay property tax, and therefore all taxpayers in the area in which they are located have to make up the loss in local government revenue. And rightfully, they can lose their tax exemption if they engage in political partisanship, which many do, especially the more strident evangelical churches.

          • Chet

            Wrong, dude, churches are financed by those who give to its local work. Now, let’s talk about the major abortion provider in the US and how taxpayer monies fund this wicked barbaric entity against the will of the people…

      • Chet

        True as the preaching job is the responsibility of the preacher. Try hopping into the cab of a tractor trailer and tell the driver you’re gonna take the wheel and see what happens next. Your analogy is less than base…

  • TheKingOfRhye

    The controversial development has some concerned that the signs could
    dissuade potential listeners from even hearing the messages.

    I think they might very well have the opposite effect. Maybe it’s not quite the same thing, but I remember those “Parental Advisory” stickers they’d put on CDs and stuff, didn’t the ones with them usually outsell other music? I know there are times when some artists will put out their album with both an “uncensored” version and a “clean” version; I bet the “uncensored versions” sell a lot more. Look at the rap group 2 Live Crew, controversy about their explicit lyrics basically made them stars. The point is, often controversy can create or increase interest in something.

    Also, I think people might be missing something from this story:

    “If we don’t put up the signs, we get many requests to remove [speakers] and ask speakers to leave,” Ryan Lindquist, the director of student activities at the university, told local television station KRQE…The signage had been utilized in the past, and made a comeback due to complaints from upset hearers. “It’s just educating students, faculty, staff and visitors that they (the speakers) have the right to [communicate a message] on campus,” he said.

    He said it right there: They aren’t putting up the signs to dissuade people from hearing the speakers, they’re putting them up to try to stop people from asking them to leave!

  • Any public property, especially colleges, should be recognized as free speech zones, subject to certain regulations such as volume levels (loudness), unsolicited speech in official legislative/government chambers and activities, coercing passersby to stop an listen, shouting down speakers, etc. If a group is allowed to erect a Christian monument or icon in a public area, then a Muslim or Satanist group may do the same. That’s free speech under the First Amendment.

  • TheKingOfRhye

    Restating my comment here because it got deleted….

    First, saying something is controversial can often increase interest in it. Also, the article specifically says the university is putting up these signs to discourage people from asking the university to remove the speakers.

  • Chet

    Wow, if the simplistic God loving man preaching of the Christ of Calvary makes them “uncomfortable” imagine their reaction upon learning of each and every man’s impending personal judgment and where he will spend eternity should he die in his SIN. Better to hear it now and make the right choice then to hear of it then and it be eternally too late…

  • MCrow

    So here’s what free speech zones actually are: they’re areas that the University sets aside so that people can share their viewpoints with others willing to listen. It’s to allow students to otherwise go about their lives unmolested should they so choose. Other topics that get restricted to that area include political topics (conservative or liberal), religious stances of all stripes, activist recruiting (PETA, etc) and campaigning.

    The intent, again, is that some students would prefer to just go to class without having someone asking them to convert, sign a form, or shout at them for not recycling.