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John Stossel came to North Carolina recently and learned a couple things about the state of free speech in the Old North State. Unfortunately, they aren’t good things.

Stossel discusses his Tar Heel speech discoveries in a column published in the New Hampshire Union Leader under the title "You can speak freely if the state says it’s OK."

What did Stossel learn? For one, that where he was, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, free speech is constantly being abridged. Such a revelation should be no surprise; after all, the university’s forays against free speech are innumerable, a fact which makes UNC-CH decidedly unremarkable in speech-averse academe. It remains one of the sorriest features of the American scholastic environment that the institutions habitually making such a fuss about diversity work doubly hard to ensure that this cherished virtue applies only to such checkbox elements as race, gender, and sexual preference.

Stossel writes,

Many colleges now impose "civility codes." Civility is nice, but enforcing a "civility rule" against offensive speech would put an end to lots of useful provocative speech. As a University of North Carolina student put it, "A picture of Mitt Romney would offend 70 percent of residence hall students."

Taping my Fox Business Network show at UNC, I also learned that the college, to "protect" women, had dropped the word "freshman." The PC term is now "first year." UNC also decreed that no student may "implicitly" or "explicitly" ask for sex. (Then how do students get it?)

Stossel then discovers a more concerning assault on free speech here: the case of the "Paleo-diet blogger," Steve Cooksey, which Carolina Journal and this newsletter have discussed. He takes on the main justification for occupational licensing and how his opinion on the subject has changed:

I supported occupational licensing when I was a young consumer reporter. But now I’ve wised up. Now I see that it doesn’t protect consumers. Competition and reputation are better protection. When you move to a new community, do you choose new dentists or mechanics by checking their licenses? No. You ask neighbors or colleagues for recommendations, or check Consumer Reports and Angie’s List. You check because you know that even with licensing laws, there is quackery.

Licensing creates a false sense of security, raises costs, stifles innovation, takes away consumer choice and interferes with the right to earn a living.

"And now I see another reason to object to it," Stossel continued. "It collides with freedom of speech."

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