Timing and a civility project at North Carolina State

Posted on September 27, 2012 by


Our post two days ago about a college civility project (click on link) raises an interesting 


question. The effort to require civility on the North Carolina State University campus had to be cut back because someone disturbed by the project cited a Supreme Court ruling in March of 1973


prohibiting restrictions on the dissemination of ideas even if they are indecent.

The ruling is based on the First Amendment’s right of free speech. Does this case compare in any way to rulings on obscenity based on community standards? Coincidentally, the high court’s decision in Miller v. California related to judging obscenity by community standards came just three months later, in June of 1973.

So the case we cite did not include consideration of community standards. Enforcement of obscenity laws is often cited as determining community standards in many cases. 

If our case had come up following the Miller v. California ruling, perhaps the decision would have been based on community standards in the Raleigh area, where the college is located. Thus the possibility that the Court’s judgment might not have been to allow the distribution of flyers on campus.

They say timing is everything.