Protecting Free Speech is an “Extreme Agenda” According to NC Representative

A group that fights to protect free speech on college campuses has an “extreme agenda” according to NC Democrat’s Whip, Representative Verla Insko (D-56).

This week, Rep. Insko told the News and Observer that the Goldwater Institute couldn’t be trusted.

Rep. Verla Insko, a Democrat from Orange County, voted against the bill in committee. “My main objection is it’s regulating free speech,” she said. “We don’t really have any ongoing problems at the university. Problems come up and they get solved.”

The idea that a university committee would monitor and manage guidelines on free speech is worrisome, Insko said, especially given the bill’s connection to a conservative think tank. “It does not come from a neutral research institution,” she said. “It comes from a group that has an extreme agenda.”

Insko was commenting on House Bill 527/Senate Bill 507, a joint set of bills aimed at protecting the First Amendment on college campuses in North Carolina.

Insko’s comments from the floor were apparently similar to that given to the News and Observer, however, the floor comments apparently included a dig at the data supporting the bill from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).  Whether referring to Goldwater or FIRE, Insko’s comments deserve scrutiny.

Insko Ignores Facts of Campus Free Speech Bill

As American Lens reported earlier this week, the combined bills seek to require North Carolina campuses to adopt free speech policies.

The bill seeks to make sure that these speech policies are covered in freshman orientations and instructs colleges to create a “Committee on Free Expression and appoint 11 individuals from among its membership to the Committee.”

The joint bills also include a specific list of criteria that must be met before a campus can restrict free speech activities.

Those whose free speech rights have been violated can even seek legal remedy.

Yet, Insko claims this is ‘restricting free speech’.

Insko Ignores Free Speech Data on NC Campuses

Insko seems hesitant to protect First Amendment rights on North Carolina campuses, ignoring that the majority of them use policies restricting the free speech.

19 out of 26 universities in North Carolina have been rated on the issue. Of the University of North Carolina system, only one has been given a ‘green light’, indicating it has policies supporting free expression on campus.



Of all the colleges in North Carolina, only two hold that ‘green light’ status. The rest are yellow or red – indicating these schools are using unconstitutional policies that violate free expression.

Insko seems to be willing ignore data she doesn’t like and wait for a Berkeley style riot to occur instead.

Rep. Insko’s comments in the News and Observer, as well as this week in the House about FIRE are also off the mark.

FIRE is run by a liberal who is a registered Democrat named Greg Lukianoff.

Insko Responds

Just prior to the publishing of this article, Rep. Insko answered my tweet.

Insko ignored what I said about who runs FIRE and responded with a shortened version of what she told the News and Observer.

I responded and asked her to articulate how the bill is ‘regulating free speech’.
Check back for updates.

The Restore/Preserve Campus Free Speech act passed the House yesterday, 83-22.

13 House Democrats joined the Republicans and voted Yes to the bill, while 32, including Rep. Insko voted No on Restore/Preserve Campus Free Speech.

The bill was sent to the Senate where it passed it’s first reading and now resides with the Committee On Rules and Operations.

* Editorial note: This article has been updated to clarify the different complaints about the model and data behind House Bill 527/Senate Bill 507.Insko inferred the Goldwater Institute’s funding was suspect, yet their 2015 Annual Report states 74% of their funding came from individual donors.

This article originally appeared on American Lens News on April 28, 2017.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
This entry was posted in Am Lens, Democrats, NCGA, POLITICS NC and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.