Colleges ‘honored’ with Muzzle awards for stifling campus speech

Anthony Gockowski
Contributing Editor/Investigative Reporter

  • The awards are normally given to oppressive government agencies.
  • America’s colleges and universities swept this year’s “Jefferson Muzzle” awards, with over 50 institutions demonstrating “excellence” in the categories of censorship and intolerance.

    The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression (TJC) announced the winners earlier this week, saying, “First Amendment principles have given way to identity politics, trigger warnings, and so called ‘safe spaces,’ and the Free Speech Movement has, at many colleges, become the Anti-Speech movement.”

    "Never in our 25 years of awarding the Jefferson Muzzles have we observed such an alarming concentration of anti-speech activity..."   

    Traditionally, the TJC awards the Jefferson Muzzles to oppressive government agencies, but this year it was compelled to take a different approach.

    “Never in our 25 years of awarding the Jefferson Muzzles have we observed such an alarming concentration of anti-speech activity as we saw last year on college campuses across the country,” the TJC wrote when announcing the winners.

    The awards were broken down into five categories this year, including both “censorship of students” and “censorship by students.” Yale University took first in the latter category for its Halloween costume incident, during which a respected professor was chased off campus by her students for suggesting in an email that they may be capable of selecting a costume on their own.

    [RELATED: Yale students agree their campus restricts free speech]

    “The student response to Christakis’ email was swift and severe. Students’ called the email ‘disrespectful’ and ‘dangerous.’ Angry students surrounded Nicholas Christakis, cursing at him and calling him ‘disgusting,’ while several students told reporters that they could no longer bear to live in the college,” the TJC commented.

    In the category of “Efforts to Limit Press Access on Campus,” former University of Missouri (Mizzou) professor Melissa Click took home the grand prize in what was perhaps the most memorable campus moment of 2015.

    [RELATED: Mizzou short on cash and desperate for students after semester of protests]

    Click, an assistant professor of mass media studies, was captured on video attempting to prevent coverage of a public protest on campus.

    “Click was fired in February 2016,” the TJC duly noted.

    Several universities tied for first in the category of “Censorship of Outside Speakers.” In many cases, the “outside speaker” was either Ben Shapiro or Milo Yiannopoulos, both conservative pundits on speaking tours.

    [RELATED: Rutgers students smear themselves with fake blood to protest Milo]

    “Students at numerous universities attempted to exclude certain viewpoints from being heard on their campuses in 2015,” the TJC observed, saying, “such efforts do all members of the community a disservice by stifling open debate and the ability of others to hear and challenge controversial ideas.”

    [RELATED: Anti-Shapiro protesters say ‘hate speech’ should not be allowed on campus]

    Dozens of other universities were awarded muzzles for their anti-free speech efforts, including Louisiana State University, Northwestern, and Butler, all of which fired tenured professors for saying or writing something inconsistent with the administration’s orthodoxy.

    “Today ... the focus seems to be on limiting rather than promoting the open exchange of ideas,” the TJC wrote in its announcement. “Students who once protested to have their voices heard now seek to silence those they disagree with or find threatening. Meanwhile, university administrators appear locked in a competition to determine which school will take the toughest stand against offensive, unpopular, and hurtful speech.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski





    Anthony Gockowski

    Anthony Gockowski

    Contributing Editor/Investigative Reporter

    Anthony Gockowski is the Contributing Editor and an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. He previously worked for The Daily Caller, Intercollegiate Review, The Catholic Spirit, and The College Fix.

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