College: A 'safe space' for censorship

  • The assault on free speech continues to escalate on America's college campuses, as liberal students have begun to eschew rowdy, disruptive protests for actual violence in order to preserve their "safe spaces."
  • The first Millennials are now getting into Congress, and in a few decades’ time, even the Supreme Court will be filled with Justices educated in an environment that is hostile to the First Amendment.

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of our site that students in American higher education do not have the foggiest understanding of their First Amendment rights.

Campus Reform is replete with examples of left-wing students calling for censorship of contrary viewpoints. Even mere affirmations of commitment to free speech get shot down on the grounds that they could create “an unsafe space.”

"There’s a dark future for our freedom that we ought to be fighting like hell to avoid."   

Say something they dislike and they might try to disrupt your meetingdisinvite your speaker, or get you expelled.

And if they’re feeling particularly rowdy, they might just skip straight to punching you in the face.

At the University of California, Berkeley, socialist and “anti-fascist” student groups demanded the university cancel a planned appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos. When the university went ahead and hosted Yiannopoulos, rioters shut down the event and forced Yiannopoulos to evacuate for his own safety before damaging a Starbucks and a bank.

Were students and faculty embarrassed by the childish outburst? On the contrary, a series of op-eds in The Daily Californian defended the rioting as “violence as self-defense.”

Campus leftists love to use this kind of language when building their narrative. They cast themselves as plucky, victimized underdogs by defining any speech they dislike as “violence,” thereby justifying their use of actual physical violence. They say they’re “punching up.” The problem with that, of course, is that it’s still punching.

With this kind of ignorance (or at least I hope it’s merely ignorance), better education about free speech and First Amendment rights are absolutely necessary. Thankfully, there are some efforts out there to defend free-speech.

Multiple state legislatures are considering bills that would guarantee First Amendment rights on campus. The University of Chicago, which has an institutional commitment to free speech, has even proposed hiring “free-speech deans” to serve as pseudo-bouncers at events to remove disruptive students.

It’s not enough, but it’s a start. Ideally, more universities should be working to educate their students on free speech, not slashing enrollment like UCLA’s doing to a popular course on free speech in the workplace, where students are so eager to take the course that they are literally sitting in the aisles.

Maybe if the University did so, they wouldn’t have students blocking access to books or disrupting speakers.

While all of these incidents may seem minor, today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. The first Millennials are now getting into Congress, and in a few decades’ time, the Supreme Court—which makes the rulings involving freedom of speech—will be made up of Justices who were educated in this kind of environment.

That’s a dark future for our freedom and one we ought to be fighting like hell to avoid.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SterlingCBeard

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Sterling Beard
Sterling Beard | Director of Journalism Training

Sterling Beard is Campus Reform's Director of Journalism Training. Prior to joining Campus Reform, he spent time as an editorial associate for National Review Online and as a staff writer at The Hill, where he served as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's Lyn Nofziger Fellow and regularly appeared across the country on Fox News Radio to provide analysis of current events. In 2017, Sterling was named to The Chronicle of Higher Education's Influence List, one of nine people who "affected federal policy, campus culture, and the national conversation about education in 2017 — and who are likely to remain influential in the year ahead."

20 Articles by Sterling Beard