Free Speech and Tender Feelings

The Arizona Daily Independent recently published an article about certain students at Northern Arizona University who feel put upon by the powers that be. According to the article these students feel that the university administration has failed “to provide security and the proper resources for its most vulnerable students, has encouraged the racial tokenization of students and faculty, has encouraged the NAU Police Department to interfere with student activism, has allowed those involved in student activism to be harassed by University employees, and has allowed these students’ reputation to be slandered by other students and faculty members.” Read more

I don’t know if the students have a legitimate gripe or not, but the article brings to mind three recent editorials on free speech:

Useful idiots gone wild” by Robert Weissberg:

Race-related protests on American college campuses are spreading faster than head lice at a daycare center. Though each disturbance has its own idiosyncrasies, all include demands that the university recruit more black faculty and students, forcefully “re-educate” all students and faculty to expel lingering anti-black racism and then do whatever is necessary to make the campus a warm, caring and, most of all, a safe space for communities of color.

Far more is involved here than howling for school president’s head or cancelling a mid-term exam to permit traumatized students time to heal. The ruckus is entirely about pushing the university leftward, and these immature campus social justice warriors are what Lenin called useful idiots. All the nattering about diversity and dialogue is a subterfuge; these hypersensitive snowflakes and fellow traveler thugs are just the ground troops in a much larger ideological war. Read full post

The Death of Free Speech” by Ben Shapiro:

Four in 10 young Americans have no idea what America is. That’s the takeaway from a new Pew Research poll showing that 40 percent of Americans aged 18-34 say that the government should be able to prevent people from making “statements that are offensive to minority groups.” This same group of young people has granted broad awareness to the culture of “microaggression” — unintended slights taken as grave insults by their victims; they’ve also called for “trigger warnings,” alerts that certain communications may dredge up unpleasant past memories or ideas. With such ghoulish cruelties haunting the most privileged generation in human history, naturally we’d want to toss out the bedrock of Western civilization: The right to debate, to express unpopular opinions. We wouldn’t want to offend. Unless, of course, we do. Read full post.

Free Speech” by Walter Williams:
Recent events at the University of Missouri, Yale University and some other colleges demonstrate an ongoing ignorance and/or contempt for the principles of free speech. So let’s examine some of those principles by asking: What is the true test of one’s commitment to free speech?

Contrary to the widespread belief of tyrants among college students, professors and administrators, the true test of one’s commitment to free speech does not come when one permits people to be free to express those ideas that he finds acceptable. The true test of one’s commitment to free speech comes when he permits others to say those things that he finds deeply offensive. In a word, free speech is absolute, or nearly so.

Liberty requires bravery. To truly support free speech, one has to accept that some people will say and publish things he finds deeply offensive. Similarly, to be for freedom of association, one has to accept that some people will associate in ways that he finds deeply offensive, such as associating or not associating on the basis of race, sex or religion.

I am all too afraid that most of my fellow Americans are hostile to the principle of liberty in general. Most people want liberty for themselves. I want more than that. I want liberty for me and liberty for my fellow man. Read full post

There are times when real discrimination requires action, and there are times when freedom requires that you develop a thick skin. The trick is learning the difference.

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