Georgia College Accuses Evangelical Student Preaching Gospel Of Using 'Fighting Words"

A Georgia college, intent on having a lawsuit against it dismissed, is claiming the student plaintiff used “fighting words” on campus when he quoted the gospel in a free speech zone on campus.

According to the lawsuit filed by the student, Chike Uzuegbunam, he had sought to distribute religious literature in an open, generally accessible area of the campus which was not one of the two tiny free speech zones on the Georgia Gwinnett College campus, which occupy less than 0.0015% of the campus area.

The university informed him he had to stop because he was outside of the two tiny speech zones and he had not first obtained a permit.

Uzuegbunam then reserved one of the free-speech zones, and tried to share his religious views. The university then stopped him because his speech had generated complaints, and informed him that his speech constituted “disorderly conduct.”

Uzuegbunam is challenging the provisions of the University’s Speech Zone Policy, including these restrictions: that free speech zones are restricted to two tiny areas of campus; that student expression in those areas should be restricted to two to four hours per day during the week and closed on weekends; that students are required to get a permit to engage in expression in any other outdoor location on campus; that the university can decide on a case-by-case basis which students and student organizations may engage in expression outside the speech zones or during times the speech zones are closed; that students must get permission to utilize the speech zones three days in advance; and that students can be prohibited from utilizing the speech zones again for thirty days after utilizing them once.

Campus Reform reported that The Alliance Defending Freedom, (ADF) said the defendants in the lawsuit filed a motion stating Uzuegbunam’s “open-air speaking” rose “to the level of ‘fighting words … Plaintiff exclaimed a divisive message directly to a group of ‘many’ individuals while standing on top of a stool, and, in doing so, actually caused a disturbance … Plaintiff used contentious religious language that, when directed to a crowd, has a tendency to incite hostility.”

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