Ben Carson Wants To Use The Department of Education To Violate Your First Amendment Rights

The more I hear from Ben Carson, the more terrified I become of the harm he would cause as our President. I try to give everyone a fair chance, but when you say things like Muslims should not be President, or that the Holocaust would not have happened if there had been more guns, I have a very hard time taking you seriously.

Now, Carson goes and tops himself with another outrageous statement. In an interview with Glenn Beck Wednesday, Carson said that he would use the Department of Education “to monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding if it exists.” [emphasis my own]

First of all, the implications on free speech rights of using the government to monitor speech and deny funding is mind-boggling. The last time I checked, the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment states that the government is forbidden from “abridging the freedom of speech.” This has been interpreted through our Supreme Court to mean that even if the speech is vile (see: Westboro Baptist Church), the individuals still have a right to avoid retribution from the government for it. The Republicans are the ones that are constantly going back to the Constitution when it comes to things like Second Amendment rights. If we are going to go all Founding Fathers on this country, how can we not uphold one of the most basic tenets of freedom that we were founded upon?

Second, if the Republican party is to be the party of small government, how in the world would creating a program that would require tens of thousands of people to monitor the speech on campuses around the country be considered small? There are close to 10,000 post-secondary institutions. It would take at least a couple of people at each to accurately monitor the speech. I do not understand how increasing the Department of Education by 30,000 people is standing by the belief of “small government.”

Additionally, the Republican party has railed against infringing on free speech rights when it comes to their own messages. Just because there is an (unfounded) fear that some professors may be liberally biased is no reason to turn all 1984 on our colleges and universities.

Lastly, at a very basic level, I would love to know if Carson could even name all of the programs that the Department of Education runs. How about putting more funding and support into their work such as their Improving Literacy through School Libraries program or their early childhood education initiatives? I agree that supporting the Department of Education with more funding and staff is a great idea, just not in the way Carson would have us do so.


Featured image a combination of Pixabay and Flickr User Gage Skidmore, both available under Creative Common licensing.