Free speech:a traditionin Minnesota

arlier this year, The Minnesota Daily agreed to co-sponsor a week of events that would focus the University’s attention on the First Amendment.
University students, after all, have inherited a tradition of free expression honed by past generations committed to open speech and political dissent.
The campus has been the center of protest against many foes — wars, religious intolerance and administrative snafus, to name a few. The University has contributed to the Twin Cities’ reputation as a haven for vibrant expression.
The Minnesota Daily has also fought First Amendment battles, most notably in the late 1970s when it weathered protests over a parody of religion printed in the newspaper. Today its news and opinion pages often stimulate lively campus discussion.
Although seldom recognized beyond legal and media circles, the state of Minnesota has also played a significant role in the evolution of the First Amendment.
In the landmark 1931 U.S. Supreme Court case Near v. Minnesota, prior restraint — governmental attempts to prevent the publication of controversial matter — was finally ruled unconstitutional. A synopsis of that case, written by University journalism professor Donald Gillmor, is included in this issue.
To complement the week’s events — which include a display of banned books and a forum on press freedom — this edition of the Daily also explores several contemporary First Amendment issues.
One article tells the story of University student Lili Pan, a Chinese exile who was forced to flee his country after participating in the 1989 student democracy movement. In another, University physics professor Erwin Marquit shares his experience battling disgruntled administrators because of his Marxist convictions.
American Civil Liberties President Nadine Strossen, herself a Minnesotan, once said that Americans “must reaffirm the central importance of freedom of expression — our right to read, think, speak, sing, write, paint, dance, dream, photograph, film and fantasize as we wish.”
The Daily hopes this issue and the week’s events will encourage that reaffirmation.