No need for a link, everyone is aware I think of the controversies surrounding what is broadly described as issues of freedom of speech in higher education. This is something I think about a lot and in fact I have some personal responsibility for the discussion in our department.
First a few important conceptual distinctions. The First Amendment right to freedom of speech pertains only to government. In fact as written it literally constrains only the congress; however the courts have construed it to apply to the executive (which carries out the laws) and to apply to the states, by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment. And of course it does not mean that government cannot limit speech at all. Speech which is libelous, which furthers criminal conspiracy or perpetrates fraud, discloses classified information, incites to violence, or breaches contract (e.g. non-disclosure agreements) may be subject to civil or criminal repercussions.
State universities are public agencies and therefore do have some First Amendment constraints. I'll put that in the parking lot for now and talk about private universities and colleges. The First Amendment has nothing to do with any private agent
. The editors of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones and Breitbart News can decide what to publish or not to publish. Freedom of the press, in other words, pertains to people who own presses. This has always been true. In fact it is the essence of the First Amendment that you are free to promote whatever ideology or point of view you like provided it does not run afoul of the limitations specified in the previous paragraph.
The same is true private colleges and universities. I don't see the people who complain about restriction of free speech at Ivy League universities complaining about Liberty University, Oral Roberts, or Bob Jones. They very clearly and explicitly promote particular versions of Christianity and political conservatism, and don't generally invite atheists or leftists to speak, or allow their students and professors to denounce Christianity. In fact as far as I know right now there aren't any accredited institutions of higher education in the U.S. that are the leftist counterparts of those institutions. The only reason controversy arises at all is because people have different expectations of secular institutions of higher education.
So what are the policies here at a very old Ivy League university in an old New England city? Well, in the first place, there is a high value placed on scientific rigor. You won't find a creationists in the biology department or a climate change denier in the Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences department not because those positions are politically incorrect, but because they are scientifically invalid. Nobody who holds those positions is going to get hired, and if they sneak through they won't get tenure. Academic freedom rests on truth. (That's the motto of Harvard, by the way, only in Latin.)
Okay, facts can sometimes be in dispute. That's a lot of what we do here, try to sort out those disputed facts and get to the truth. That requires that we be able to speak freely to more powerful or prominent people, that we interact constructively, and also that we have fairly thick skins. Getting criticism of your work, even pretty painful criticism, is a major occupational hazard. But . . .
It needs to be substantive. Gratuitous insults and ad hominem attacks are not okay. The Department Chair, or in some circumstances a dean, might talk to you about that. And that leads us to . . .
Valuing diversity of opinion, background, personality, values and yes, ideology requires the imposition of certain constraints. If your freedom to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose, your freedom of speech stops at intimidation, devaluing or demeaning people, gratuitous insults -- and that includes racism, sexism, sexual harassment, discrimination, and lots of other stuff that some people seem to think is okay. These are contrary to freedom of speech
. If we want to have a free exchange of [truthful] ideas, we need to respect each other. Now, exactly what is okay and not okay is often arguable. You can't write rigid rules. People have different reactions to humor and irony, to invidious characterization that somebody might think is justified. All of this needs to be continually discussed and processed and disputed and learned.
But no, Steve Bannon is not welcome to speak here. Not as far as I'm concerned.