In September of last year, a graduate student at Montclair State University in New Jersey made a derogatory comment about a fellow student on YouTube, declaring that her legs resembled "a pair of bleached hams." The comment came to the attention of university officials, who disciplined the student, Joseph Aziz, for violating the school's Student Code of Conduct, which complies with the tough New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act. Aziz was ordered to avoid all contact with the student, and forbidden to post anything on "any social media regarding" the student in question.

But Aziz, who belongs to the Rand Paul affiliated group Young Americans for Liberty, got caught complaining about the gag order on a private Facebook group called "Oceanian Troll Order," where he joked about escaping the student's "tyrannical ham lock." One of the members of the group then copied his comments and sent it to administrators, who suspended Aziz for a semester and made a permanent note on his college transcript. In a letter to Aziz, a university official asked, "Are you so focused on non-productive activities such as Facebook and ‘trolling’ that you have misplaced your priorities?"

Now the non-profit civil liberties group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education [FIRE] is advocating on Aziz's behalf. "As an agency of the government, Montclair State has no power to order students not to discuss any topic or person on independent social media sites like Facebook," argues FIRE's senior vice president Robert Shibley. "If President Nixon couldn't use prior restraint to stop publication of the Pentagon Papers, why in the world does Montclair State University think it can use prior restraint to stop students from joking around on Facebook?" (Indeed, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint.)

The comment that started all this trouble was made in response to this video, in which a heckler interrupts a campus speech by Republican gubenitorial candidate Steve Lonegan. The Star-Ledger reports that Aziz had attended the speech with other members of Young Americans for Liberty, and that after the video appeared on YouTube, Aziz called the heckler and his female friend fat. "The initial comments were in poor taste and I regret making them," Aziz has since said. "I was frustrated with what I perceived as an attack on the speaker whose appearance my group sponsored."

Aziz, who is studying in the science degree program in molecular biology, worries that "the ability to advance in my career is severely hindered without a graduate degree. Transferring to another school is also difficult since a disciplinary suspension is noted on my transcript." He's hoping to pressure Montclair officials to remove the disciplinary note from his transcript, but so far the administration shows no sign of budging.

"The university acted in accordance with its Student Code of Conduct which complies with the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act," the school said in a statement. The disciplinary action came roughly one year after the state's Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights went into effect. Considered the toughest legislation against bullying in the nation, rules were implemented after the suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi. But critics say the legislation goes overboard. “Now we have to police the community 24 hours a day," one New Jersey school administrator told the Times in 2011. "Where are the people and the resources to do this?”